Saturday, September 13, 2008

Why we can succeed in Hawaii--

This is an interesting case study. It may not take a great deal of imagination to draw parallels.

When the Soviet Union began its economic crash in the late 80's, the first to notice it was Cuba. As trade between the the Soviet Union and Cuba amounted to better than 85 percent of the island's economy--the impact was sudden and severe. Anything petroleum related was the hardest hit. Figures vary, but it's safe to assume Cuba lost three quarters of all fertilizer and gasoline supplies in but a few months. Pesticides, tractors, and other farm related goods also vanished. Cuba was plunged into a late 1800's style agrarian economy with 1800's style tools. Agricultural output over the next 5 years fell by half--and this meant one thing, hunger. The average dietary consumption in Cuba fell by half as well, measured in calories. There were few chubby Cubans.

But creativity saved the day. Faced with reality, Cuban agriculture transformed itself, and over the last decade Cuba has become one of the world leaders in self-reliant, sustainable permaculture syle farming. It's amazing to consider, and nearly hard to believe, that over half of the country's food output is grown in small personal gardens, and a large portion of these are gardens in urban environments, in fact in Havana itself.

It is possible, in fact a great deal easier, to do the same here in Hawaii.

What is to effect this change isn't blather about sustainability, or seminars, or "green" legislation. It requires the same motivation that motivated the Cuban people--self-interested survival. It takes clever minimalist use of materials and hands in the dirt, figuring out what works and what doesn't. Fortunately we can get started while the grocery store still exists, and dabble with these issues before we need to face hardship.

Remember, planting a fruit tree is a decade long project! Where is the world going to be in 2018?

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