The Industrial Revolution, powered by oil and other fossil fuels, is spiraling into a dangerous endgame. The price of gas and food are climbing, unemployment remains high, the housing market has tanked, consumer and government debt is soaring, and the recovery is slowing. Facing the prospect of a second collapse of the global economy, humanity is desperate for a sustainable economic game plan to take us into the future.
Here, Jeremy Rifkin explores how Internet technology and renewable energy are merging to create a powerful "Third Industrial Revolution." He asks us to imagine hundreds of millions of people producing their own green energy in their homes, offices, and factories, and sharing it with each other in an "energy internet," just like we now create and share information online.
Rifkin describes how the five-pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution will create thousands of businesses, millions of jobs, and usher in a fundamental reordering of human relationships, from hierarchical to lateral power, that will impact the way we conduct commerce, govern society, educate our children, and engage in civic life.
Rifkin's vision is already gaining traction in the international community. The European Union Parliament has issued a formal declaration calling for its implementation, and other nations in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, are quickly preparing their own initiatives for transitioning into the new economic paradigm.
The Third Industrial Revolution is an insider's account of the next great economic era, including a look into the personalities and players — heads of state, global CEOs, social entrepreneurs, and NGOs — who are pioneering its implementation around the world.
Rifkin, who has long studied how Europe is reducing its dependence on fossil fuel energies (and how the U.S. is failing to keep up), makes an important, impeccably argued call for wide-scale societal collaboration to forestall devastating climate change. Industrial civilization, he says, is at a crossroads; our reliance on carbon-based energy has created debt, destruction, and a plummeting living standard, and we need a new paradigm a third Industrial Revolution. He proposes steps that would help us avert catastrophic climate change: a shift to renewable energy, the worldwide creation of micro power plants, updating energy storage technologies, creating an energy-sharing intergrid, and transitioning to electric plug-in and fuel-cell vehicles. In his dense, thoughtful style, Rifkin discusses the benefits of actions big and small from vegetarianism to microlending for local green energy generation and how, given the U.S.'s worrying refusal to acknowledge the gravity of the situation, a true fix will require a powerful renewable energy lobby, big business, government, and civil society to come together on this issue. Though the average reader may find some of the science slow going at times, this is a compelling and cogent argument to overhaul our society and economy in favor of a distributed and collaborative model to "begin to think of ourselves as a global family."