The Third Industrial Revolution | Jeremy Rifkin

Summary of: The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World
By: Jeremy Rifkin


Embark on a journey through ‘The Third Industrial Revolution’ as Jeremy Rifkin explores the inevitable decline of the Carbon Era and the emergence of a new economic paradigm. Discover the intertwined relationship between energy resources and communication, and how their evolution shapes society, economies, and political structures. Gain insights into the five pivotal pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR), including renewable energy, decentralized power production, and energy-efficient transportation. Learn how this revolution will transform traditional capitalism, promote collaboration, and redefine the educational system as we know it.

The Third Industrial Revolution

The 20th century saw a Second Industrial Revolution fueled by centralized electricity, oil, automobiles, and suburban construction. However, the current industrial economy is facing crises as oil runs out, the climate changes, and debt levels increase. The Carbon Era is coming to an end, and the technologies dependent on fossil fuels are becoming obsolete. Economic progress has always relied on the relationship between energy resources and communications, and the Third Industrial Revolution is on the horizon with the rise of new energy alternatives and communication modernization. The Information and Communication Technology Revolution that began in the 1990s has not realized its full potential yet due to the reliance on a dying energy infrastructure. As the industrial civilization faces a crossroads, it’s time to embrace a new era of sustainable energy and communication technology.

Energy Revolution

The book highlights that the world needs to transform its energy infrastructure, as traditional energy sources are becoming scarce and expensive. Alternative sources, such as renewable energy, are advancing, and creating decentralized energy systems will produce jobs, reduce waste, and democratize power production. Moreover, improved energy storage and transportation, energy-sharing intergrids, electric plug-ins, and fuel cell vehicles must be created to improve energy distribution. The author argues that this energy revolution is crucial for society to create a sustainable future and reduce carbon emissions.

Energy’s Impact on Society

Energy plays a critical role in shaping a society’s political and economic landscapes, as well as people’s relationships with one another. Fossil fuels are considered “elite energies” because they are only found in specific places, requiring significant investment and centralized control. The democratization of energy has the potential to revolutionize how society functions by providing universal access to renewable energy sources, creating a decentralized and egalitarian organizational model, and developing new technologies like 3-D printing that allow for distributed manufacturing. This shift from top-down, hierarchical thinking to lateral, transparent, and open thinking could have profound implications for the future of industrialization and the way we interact with each other.

Third Industrial Revolution

The Third Industrial Revolution is happening around the globe, and early adopters are already transforming their urban identities to align with sustainability goals. Rome is adding gardens and bike paths and integrating clean manufacturing into residential neighborhoods. San Antonio and Monaco are increasing their usage of renewable energy sources. Utrecht is determined to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020 while seeing economic development and sustainability as complementary. The TIR also involves a shift towards continentalization, away from globalization, and an orientation towards specific “biospheres” rather than artificial political boundaries. The rise in oil prices is causing an increase in freight costs, driving regions that share land masses to make natural groupings for economic exchange and energy transfer, building common power grids and sharing currencies and markets. Ultimately, the Third Industrial Revolution changes humanity’s sense of responsibility to fellow humans, spurring a more natural inclination towards a more sustainable future.

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