The intentions of the Leap Manifesto are admirable, but its thermodynamics are flawed.
Society does not subsidize fossil energy. Fossil energy subsidizes everything in modern society to the tune of over 50 energy slaves per person. These slaves have and will continue to demand more pay because the easy to extract oil is gone. What oil remains becomes more expensive to extract with each passing day.
Do not confuse oil price with cost. The oil price today is low because consumers have maxed out their credit cards and can no longer afford to pay their energy slaves. Oil companies are going broke because it costs more to extract oil than they can sell it for. Think about this. It’s a big problem.
The fact that our energy slaves have become more expensive than we can afford is the root cause of dangerous worldwide public debt growth, and a fragile economy that has required zero percent interest for 8 years. All of the idiot lights are flashing red on our dashboard if we care to look. The weaker countries are already starting to fail.
It takes fossil energy slaves to make renewable energy slaves. And the renewable energy slaves require even more pay than the fossil energy slaves because their muscles are weaker, and they need some fossil energy to stay fit. For example, think about the roads and trucks and tools and parts needed to maintain a windmill or solar panel.
We need renewable energy and we have no choice but to move in their direction. But we can’t run today’s society with them. Don’t take my word for this. Pay attention. Look for any example in the world that contradicts what I just said. But look honestly. You must include all of the energy that is consumed, including, for example, the coal it took to manufacture the goods, and the oil used to produce and transport the food, that was purchased from another country.
We need to understand our predicament before we can construct useful policies. And we need to reset our expectations. While we might enjoy 50 slaves today we may have to make do with 5 slaves in the future. That’s still a lot better than most people have enjoyed for the last 10,000 years.
It’s also important to understand that no one is at fault. The last few generations got lucky with a fossil energy windfall. Kind of like mice that had a party in an overturned grain truck.
A deep and honest understanding will lead to policies that emphasize conservation, austerity, population reduction, wealth gap reduction, re-localization, and lastly, renewable energy.
I do not see any mention by the Leap Manifesto of the first 3 and most important items in my list. Conservation, austerity, and population reduction. These are important because we are in severe overshoot and would be wise to voluntarily climb down from the cliff.
It’s doable and desirable. Most people in the developed world consume much more than they need to have happy and healthy lives. All of these policies will help to reduce many serious environmental threats like climate change.