If indeed some experts are right and peak oil occurs in the next 10 years, society as a whole would have to dramatically change to cope.
Discussing and researching local, practical measures to respond to peak oil (when world oil production is no longer able to keep up with demand) is the objective of a new online forum called Post Carbon Northern Rivers.
Forum member Dr Leigh Davison from the Centre for Ecotechnology at Southern Cross University said the group was formed after local screenings of The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil. The film documents Cubas mass emergency transition to local, organic agriculture and renewable energy, following the Soviet collapse in 1990, when huge subsidies of imported oil and food to Cuba were halted.
The film visits urban gardens and organic farms, explains the relationship between food and fossil fuels, and shows how a society can change from having an industrialised global focus to a local, community-based one.
According to Dr Davidson, Cubas experience provides a living model for how the rest of the world can respond to peak oil and the irreversible decline some oil experts say will occur this decade.
Dr Davison said everyone concerned about peak oil should see the film.
Here on the Northern Rivers there has been a high degree of interest in economic localisation for some time and the emergence of the LETS (local energy transfer system) barter network, local currency (LETS dollars), weekend markets and local growers markets are all examples of this, he said. The Cuban film shows that peak oil, when it arrived in Cuba in the early nineties, brought with it many social and human health benefits. The Cubans were forced to go cold turkey on the petroleum drug and so the development of local organic food production and economic systems was their only option.
The Post Carbon Northern Rivers website is part of the Relocalisation Network, an international network launched in 2003 by the Post Carbon Institute based in Vancouver. There are currently 125 local Post Carbon groups in 11 countries accessible from the site, with new groups from around the world appearing every week.
While Dr Davison admits there is no easy solution to peak oil, he says the Relocalisation Network offers support to those who wish to explore a positive alternative.
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil DVD can be ordered by calling Kali Wendorf on 6684 4353.
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