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[Duurzaamlijst] Green Cuba

On 8 Apr 2001, at 2:47, Bill Howard wrote:

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Barry Stoller <bstoller@utopia2000.org>
To: <downwithcapitalism@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, April 07, 2001 8:37 PM
Subject: [downwithcapitalism] FW: Green Cuba

Cuba: Progress in Renewable Energy and Environmental Sustainabililty.
Excerpt from a work-in-progress by Annie Birdsong. Posted on usenet, 11
March 2001.

With the U.S. embargo against them, Cubans are lacking many things
Computers, money, medical equipment, basic medicine, leotards and shoes
for their ballet dancers and more but it appears there is no shortage of
international  respect, at least outside the USA.

Cuba has become a model for the world in various areas in spite of, and
sometimes because of, the incredible struggles caused by the U.S.

The shortages of fossil fuel, pesticides and fertilizer has brought
about innovation in renewable energy, organic agriculture and other
areas of environmental sustainability. Because of their achievements,
the United Nations environment program has chosen Cuba  to host the 2001
World Environment Day---a first-time honor for the Caribbean.

The government is using a variety of renewable sources to produce

In one city nestled in a mountain, called Magdalena, every home has its
own solar photovoltaic panel to supply electricity, thus they are not
connected to a grid supplying electricity. Also to make electricity, the
country has 6,500 windmills that pump water, 220 micro-hydro systems on
their small rivers---which are much more environmentally sustainable
than large dams would be. Biomass (bagasse and straw) from the sugar
mills is used to make electricity to run the sugar mills as well as to
supply electricity to the national grid supplying electricity to homes
and businesses.

They are converting the liquid waste from their sugar production into
biofuels for automobiles and domestic fuel,  just as Brazil is doing.
(A U.S. Department of Energy website says 90 percent of the cars in
Brazil run on ethanol made from sugarcane.  A Brazilian man in the
United States said people purchase a kit, which includes a new
carburator, to make adjustments to their cars so that they can run on
ethanol.) The sugar cane mud, rich in minerals and wax, is used in Cuba
to make animal feed and manufacturing medicaments as well as a source of
organic fertilizer.

In the absence of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and fossil fuel for
tractors, Cuba has used the best scientific knowledge available to
convert most of its agriculture to organic, which helps preserve the
soil and the quality of the food.  An added bonus is that organic sugar
brings double the price of regular sugar on the world market.

The United Nations Development Program and the Global Environmental Fund
is helping the country build a new thermoelectric plant with cutting
edge turbines that can efficiently extract substance from the biomass.
Researchers from 70 sugarcane producing countries will be meeting in
Havana May 22 through 24 to discuss uses of sugarcane biomass.

Renewable energy is also taught in the schools. All high schools teach
renewable energy in their curriculum, and some have renewable energy
equipment as well, says Laurie Stone with Solar Energy International.
She said in the Che Guevarra Technical High School in Havana, there are
solar water heaters, PV modules and wind turbines. Although the school
is not specifically geared towards renewable energy, every class
includes a renewable energy component, she says.  In biology class they
learn how to build a biogas plant, and in physics they learn how a solar
panel works. They also have an energy efficient wood burning stove which
cooks the meals for the students during the week. This is the same type
of stove that is implemented in over 250 schools throughout Cuba.

The Cuban government is taking a number of measures to preserve
biodiversity and the beauty of the environment.

For instance, the causeway is built with 44 bridges so that traffic
often passes over habitats without disturbing animals, plants and water.
Some buildings within the tourism industry are constructed from light
materials over bridges built on piles so as not to disturb the rich
profusion of fauna and flora. They have even built open areas under
causeways that allow wildlife to safely pass.

Cuba also has a reforestation program, a recycling program and a
wildlife refuge in Cayo Santa Maria to preserve 260 species of land

A businessman who visited Cuba, Alf Nucifora, hoping to do business
there when the embargo is lifted, said, "I fell in love with the place."
But he is concerned about the negative influences the global economy
will  have on the country when the sanctions are lifted. "Once you allow
the Western influence in, you are going to lose a lot of the natural
charm," he said. "You will McDonald-ize the environment."

Speaking at the Third International meeting of Economists on
Globalization and Problems of Development, Castro cautioned
representatives from 36 countries and ten international organizations to
be alert to problems globalization is having on the ecosystem. He said
large reserves of resources are being wasted. In the last century, a
considerable part of the hydro-carburant reserves has been thrown to the
air and sea. It took nature hundreds of years to create such reserves,
he said.



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