Cuba's energy successes
In my opinion, Cuba will be a bad example of anything for the foreseeable future, and perhaps as long as I live. It has been exploited by dictators and superpowers for decades, and, and the resulting distortions are all the more intense because it is an island, and a small island at that.
I also wouldn't look to Cuba for honesty, either from the Castro government or its people — the overwhelming impression that a weeklong visit there left on me was the weariness of the black market. (Please: I'm not saying all Cubans are liars. I'm saying that Cuban life has been grossly distorted, and good people and bad have adapted to their conditions the best they could.)
For these reasons — and because one should expect reports of Cuban political decisions and their effects to have political bents of their own — I hesitate to put too much credence into this story from Renewable Energy World, which I learned about via alternet via climate ark.
Still, my caveats aren't stopping me from passing on data from the island's energy efforts. The story says the nation embarked on an "energy revolution" in 2006, in part because of chronic energy issues that I can attest to: electricity was reliable only in its unreliability, and one of our drivers paused mid-trip one day to gas up from a tank in a fellow's trunk.
According to the latest UN figures, Cuban electrical consumption per capita is less than a tenth of Americans', and CO2 figures show a similar story.
Alternet's story about the story says:
Cuba’s electricity utility has wasted no time in exploiting the "oil deposit" of conservation. it mobilized consumers to replace more than 9 million incandescent light bulbs – almost 100% of the bulbs used in the country -- with compact fluorescents within six months. Under the utility’s program, more than 2 million energy-efficient refrigerators, 1 million fans, 182,000 air conditioners and 260,000 water pumps were sold.
The Ministry of Education has run a creative educational campaign on energy conservation since 1997. The state-run media cover renewable energy and energy conservation in a weekly television show, tv ads and news articles. The country’s 13,000 social workers contributed to the revolution by visiting homes, exchanging light bulbs, and educating consumers about energy conservation.
That's a perverse advantage Cubans have over Americans in living with few resources — they are used to having less. I'm not saying they have had it better in that way, but I do suggest that their deficits have better prepared them for a different energy future than our excesses have prepared us.