Peak Oil? Urban Farms? Cuba's Been There, Done It

By David Tracey, Yesterday, TheTyee.ca

Last year all of us were afforded a frightening glimpse of how expensive fuel can trigger a global food crisis. And then, when zooming oil prices tumbled again (for now), causing food commodity prices to drop (for now), our news media moved on.

But I didn't. I became interested in Cuba as an example of how to adapt when the next, similar crisis comes -- and stays.

Peak oil hit the island with a crash when the Soviet Union imploded in 1989. A food system built on false economic pretenses -- subsidized oil and fertilizers from Russia which also paid inflated prices for Cuban sugar -- suddenly disappeared. So the country with the most industrialized agricultural system in Latin America, and a farming strategy built on monocrop exports, was left to fend for itself. It didn't help when the U.S. government tightened its trade embargo in 1992.

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The English Encourage Urban Beekeeping

NY Times - Aug 10, 2009

A new and improved design of beehive could be used by city dwellers to harvest up to 20 kilograms of their own honey each year, according to Natural England, a British government conservation agency. The hives could also help stem the decline of bee populations.

Natural England will erect the so-called Beehaus on its roof in Victoria, central London, on Friday. The agency said the device should make it easy for anyone — from amateurs to seasoned apiarists — to help bees find a home in urban gardens.

“With the help of urban gardeners, bees can have access to a wonderfully diverse source of plants, resulting in fantastic flavorsome honey,” said James Tuthill, a co-founder of Omlet, the company that made the Beehaus, in a statement. The risk of city dwellers receiving bee stings would not be increased by the practice, officials said.

Urban beekeeping is already more than just a hobby just for gardening enthusiasts or dedicated apiarists.

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Warning: Oil supplies are running out fast

The Independant (UK) Aug 3, 2009

The world is heading for a catastrophic energy crunch that could cripple a global economic recovery because most of the major oil fields in the world have passed their peak production, a leading energy economist has warned.

Higher oil prices brought on by a rapid increase in demand and a stagnation, or even decline, in supply could blow any recovery off course, said Dr Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the respected International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris, which is charged with the task of assessing future energy supplies by OECD countries.

In an interview with The Independent, Dr Birol said that the public and many governments appeared to be oblivious to the fact that the oil on which modern civilisation depends is running out far faster than previously predicted and that global production is likely to peak in about 10 years – at least a decade earlier than most governments had estimated.

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