討論逐字稿 How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

We discussed how Cuba survived a kind of peak oil. Here's the transcript of most of the discussion:

Okay, what's the main thing you understood from the first 10 minutes of this video?
The production of oil goes down year to year, but on the contrary, the consumption of oil continues to increase.
We have a certain amount of oil, but the population is growing, even big countries like China, they need to consume more oil, much more than before, and that's a problem, how to survive.
Oil is limited. And we need to find other alternatives.

What does 'peak oil' mean?
The oil that we have found now is it, there's no more that can be found.
In the beginning, the whole production of oil can be consumed maybe over twenty or thirty years, but in the time of peak oil, we just can only use oil in a short time period. In the beginning it's a kind of bell curve, but now it's more like a spike than a curve.
Basically, no more oil can be found than is already found, and we're already halfway through it.

What do we know about Cuba?
It's a communist country.
They're poor.
Property is owned by the government.
Full of drugs.
Really?
That's my impression.
My impression is that drugs are from Columbia, and it's somehow the US government's fault, but that's my impression.
I think they have great music, kind of passionate, and they're happy people, I guess. And is it true that the fastest runner is from there?
I think it's Kenya.
Banana is also famous in Cuba.
And sugar cane, right?
They have a similar climate to Taiwan, I think? I'm not 100% sure.

I read the quotes that you wrote. I found that at the beginning, that the economic model in Cuba is very similar to Taiwan’s model. It depends largely on importing resources.
I didn't think about that that's what Taiwan does, but that's totally true.

Food rations
Hoarding creates more waste than rationing, but the human instinct is to hoard.
Most of the basic necessities were imported from other countries.
Basic stuff, like rice.

What does dignify mean?
Respect and honor.
So why is he talking about respecting and honoring farmers?
If a kid said they wanted to be a farmer when they grew up, what would happen?
People think that being a farmer is a hard-working occupation. And they often are poor. It's hard to earn a lot of money.
So in a money economy, you need money. But if money doesn't buy anything, what's valuable to have.
Food.
Bingo! So if you have food, then you have what people want.
Just imagine if the US fights with china, and the US said, everyone cannot use US dollars, all the US money in your bank account cannot buy anything.
I actually have no US dollars. All my money is in Taiwan.

Usufruct = legally you can use the land, and pay no taxes or rent. If you don't use the land to plant, the government can take it away and give it to people who will plant things. If the land is needed for something else, the government can take the land back.

So what were some of the results of the oil shortage in Cuba?
They were forced to go back to original life. I mean, like our Asian people. They rode horses, oxen, and ride bicycles, and grow food by themselves.
Start to rethink our way of living, like, not waste food.
At one point they said that levels of diseases like diabetes dropped.
I think diabetes is a modern disease. Because we eat too much.
Ah! I know why they can lose weight during this time, they ate less and moved more.
Yes, they walked and biked everywhere.


How do Cuba's base values influence the decisions they made when confronted with a crisis of this magnitude.
Recently my neighborhood started to build a new building. So the electricity will be cut off maybe twice a week. And my father and mother are interesting, because every time they know the electricity will be cut off tomorrow, they start to plan where they can travel to. They don't show that they're scared or nervous. They just think, how can they kill time during that period of no electricity. I think it's funny.
Do you remember the rolling water shortages?
The government limited business use, but it didn't really affect the ordinary person. But the mothers played a key role, they would tell people not to waste too much water.
So, what do you think would happen, if the US or China put an embargo on Taiwan, and suddenly we had no oil.
It's really hard to imagine.
Would people freak out, or would they calmly line up at 7-11? Do you know what I mean?
But every time there's a taiphoon, a crowd of people line up in front of 7-11 or Darenfa. But it's still not that like important. But if this thing happened, I'm not sure Taiwanese can still keep so rational.
Do you think a black market would start up.
Definitely.
Do you think people would cooperate with the government?
No! Well…
Yeah, I would cooperate with the government, because I want a solution.

How do Cuba's base values influence the decisions they made when confronted with a crisis of this magnitude.
I agree that lots of people are like you, they would cooperate because they want a solution. What I need to know is, like, when push comes to shove, when the shit hits the fan, when the situation becomes something where people have to make a choice about what to do, how many people have to decide to work together, to make the solution happen..
It depends on the culture.
Can you be more specific?

What I'm thinking is, in Taiwan, civil servants, teachers, are a special group of people. The government actually gives these people good benefits. Because, when the crisis comes, this group of people stands for the power of stability. And these people are easy to control. They will follow whatever the government says. And this actually prevents serious damage from happening.
I never thought about that before. Because we always think of civil servants as spineless, they don't take courageous action.
And they don't protest.
I never thought about that as a plus before.
Yeah, that could happen. I'm a teacher too. I'm used by my government.
I think because Taiwanese people, they believe in the Chinese gods, I mean, it s a kind of huge power in our society. So, if there is a big person in this field, like Tsu Ji or something like that, maybe those crisis or chaos will not happen.
So where were you in 9/21?
I was in Nantou.
You were in the epicenter.
So what was your experience of the government's response.
Actually, I have no memory of the government's help. I remember I got a lot of help from Tsu JI. And we also got tanks of water, and a lot of steady supplies. Those could be from government. I remember a lot of social workers come by and gave each household certain things. Tanks of water and cooked food. Also someone set up a toilet.
Were you in the city?
More like a village.
And how did people in Nantou react to this thing? Were they nervous or angry or?
I think most people were shocked, it happened overnight and destroyed everything. I think people even think it was the end of the world?
But no one went to steal things.
So what did people mostly do?
Think how to survive?
At that time I was a student, so I had nothing to do, so I walked a lot around the neighborhood, and everything was destroyed. And it was a nightmare to me.
So your house was collapsed?
It was seriously damaged.
So you had to move your things out?
There were a lot of aftershocks, you needed to watch out. The house was seriously damaged, so it was not stable, but we still take a lot of things out.
How long did it take that you started classes again?
More than two weeks, but not more than one month.
That's really quick.
Yeah, I'm thinking about turkey's earthquake, you know?
I really don't know how my classmates could cope with that, because some students lived in the dormitory, which was destroyed. So I really don't know how they survived, because they lived further up in the mountain or somewhere.
One of my classmates in senior high school, at that time, she studied in a college in Nantou. And she told us that a big wall in their college collapsed in front of her eyes, in that moment. And she said she can't imagine how terrible it could be, that it was destroyed in a moment.

So, how do people cope when change is forced on you?
People just accept it, the change, because they don't have other choice.
What does accept it mean in this case?
They don't complain about it,
Did people in Nantou complain about the circumstances of the earthquake?
Maybe at that time, people just felt helpless. And they really didn't know what to do. And but we got the help from others, also from the no-interest loan.
Really! For rebuilding.
The government didn't provide loan to people in Nantou. It's more like, we need to pay money for the house, and some years later, with no interest. Maybe as for my father, I think, I don't know how did he cope with that. Yeah, because everything was gone.
So your father lost the house?
Yes, we needed to build a new house.
So all your stuff from childhood is gone.
Yes.

I think attitude is very important. My grandmother, she just complain about our generation. She said when she just married to my grandfather, she needed to raise eight children, and at that time, every time when a taiphoon comes, our house just collapsed and taken away by the flood. But my grandmother said that they have no time to cry or complain, they just had to think about how to survive, so how to build a new house, how to grow new food. So I think in our generation, we're used to blaming others and then think how to solve the problem.
Maybe it's because our problems aren’t' that serious. If our problems were really bad, we wouldn't waste our breath on blaming people, we'd just be like your grandmother, and figure out how to fix it.

I just know that, in a disaster, I'd rather have a group of Taiwanese around me than Americans. Because in my experience, Taiwanese people know how to come together and work as a group, way better than my experience of Americans.
So, what's wrong with your education over there??
Hahaha.
No, I'm actually curious, what kind of education nurtures this personality.
Competition!
But we compete here.
No, you have no idea. Competition in the US is really fucking intense. No one trusts anyone else. You might be getting an edge on me! I won't share information. Competition really breaks trust between people.

Maybe just, stay calm, don't feel panic, everything will be fine.
Everything will work out!

The thing about the Nantou situation, you know things will go back to normal in like a year or two.
But in Cuba, they don't know how long it would take. And it's a permanent change.
But I think it's a good change.
How?
Go back to be farmers.
Why?
I think being a farmer is a solid thing to do.
But it's really hard work.
I know. But who doesn't think their job is hard?
But it's much harder
It's labor, I know but.
[qiu que. And that's for just me, so, like, it's so much that has to be done]
So we need more people to be farmers!
You know, the price of vegetables is rising, so my father and my neighbors are starting to raise vegetables. It's a change in our lives, because we start to eat my fathers vegetables, and they start to change what they grow. But it's a little boring, because you can only just eat those vegetables. It's healthy, but not so delicious.
Ha, like a friend of mine with a garden, one vacation his wife declared they were only going to eat the food in the garden and not buy any. So for a week and a half they had chuanchi at like evelry meal. And now he hates chuanchi, really doesn't want to eat it again. So that's a huge problem, actually, you get really bored with eating only what you can grow.
Yes, we had to eat kugua every meal, and our father forced us to finish it.

You know the truth is, in our lifetimes, we will experience this change!
But no one talks about it.
Well, who do you know wants to talk about it?
But we have to start preparing for it!
We can store food, but it's hard to store oil. And we can store seed, but it's hard to store oil.
Actually, it's hard to store seeds. It's better to use them and get new ones all the time.
Because someone said that in one or two decades, we will have no food, because the weather is changing. So some countries start to store seeds.
Storing seeds is good as a backup, but that's not what individuals can do. We just have to adapt with the weather.

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