Jeremy Rifkin, President, Foundation on Economic Trends (10/3/11)

Jeremy Rifkin President, Foundation on Economic Trends; Author, The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy and Changing the World The world is doomed to repeat four-year cycles of booms followed by crashes if we don’t get off oil, Jeremy Rifkin warns in this Climate One talk. The solution, what he calls the Third Industrial Revolution, is the “Energy Internet,” a nervous system linking millions of small renewable energy producers. For Rifkin, author of the new The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy and Changing the World, a seminal event occurred in July 2008, when the price of oil hit $147 a barrel. “Prices for everything on the supply chain went through the roof, from food to petrochemicals. Purchasing power plummeted all over the world that month. An entire economic engine of the Industrial Revolution shut down,” he says. “That was the great economic earthquake,” he goes on. “The collapse of the financial markets 60 days later was the aftershock. Our world leaders are still dealing with the aftershock, and have not gone to the nub of the crisis.” The reason this is happening now, Rifkin says, is that the “world is made out of and moved by fossil fuels.” “Every time we try to re-grow the economy at the same growth rate we were growing before July 2008, the price of oil goes up, all of the other prices goes up, purchasing power goes down, and it collapses.” This is a wall we can’t go beyond under the current energy regime, he says. “We’re in this wild gyration of four-year cycles, where we’re going to try to re-grow, collapse, re-grow, collapse.” The solution is a plan based on five pillars, which is being implemented in the European Union: 1) Renewable energy targets: such as the EU’s 20% by 2020 mandate 2) Green buildings: over the next 40 years, Europe plans to convert its 191 million buildings into energy-efficient, micro power plants 3) Energy storage: batteries, flywheels, and hydrogen used to smooth the intermittency of renewables 4) “Energy Internet”: create a central nervous system so that buildings can talk to the grid and sell or store power depending on prices 5) Plug-in electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. “This is power to the people,” he says. “This is the democratization of energy.” This program was recorded in front of a live audience at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on October 3, 2011 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

by Climate One