Jeremy Rifkin's third industrial revolution and climate change moderation

Lately I have been watching Jeremy Rifkin's speeches on Youtube.
He is an important economic advisor to many governments. As we are in the aftermath of the second industrial revolution (oil based), he developed ideas for a five pillar infrastructure for the third industrial revolution. This really impressed me. His idea for this seems to have been adopted for implementation by the European Parliament in 2007.
The five pillars are, briefly:

  1. 20% renewal energy in 2020
  2. buildings become power plants
  3. hydrogen and other storage of energy
  4. distributed collaborative energy, where buildings and  appliances are hooked up to a smart grid, called the intergrid
  5. electric and/or fuel cells based transportation that can plug in everywhere to recharge or deliver energy to the grid

The above requires the cooperation of business, governments and civil society. A "biosphere consciousness" beyond narrow interests is required to effect this all. I like his ideas and they are compatible with the Transition Initiative dealt with elsewhere. This revolution is necessary because of peak oil and climate change.

Very recently, I discovered that climate change seems to have sped up as scientists have discovered, end of last year,  that the arctic see releases methane ever faster from beneath the Arctic seabed. Scientists now  estimate that the Arctic see-ice may disappear entirely in the summertime within a few years. With methane concentrations in the air speeding up at an alarming rate, temperatures on earth may rise much quicker than previously thought. This is a very serious condition indeed. We may wipe out ourselves in forty years and see mass extinction of species within twenty years. If only ten percent of this threat would be realized, it could already be devastating to much of life on earth.

The bottomline: we may have only ten years left to really do something about climate change and start transitioning to saner forms of economy now. Jeremy Rifkin said, about two years ago, that scientists (and we all) consistently have underestimated the speed of climate change. Now we know that it seems to happen ever faster. Time to act is now! We owe it to our children and to all life on this planet. 

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Comment by Capt. Anand Kumar on April 17, 2012 at 12:41am

Quite interesting Dan that you make the comparison with the internet. Howard Bloom in his 2001 publication, The Global Brain argues that the story of human evolution is the story of the continually developing capability of our gene's ability to network and exchange information. Based on that theory as we go on creating more and more networks, including the energy grids, our own evolution will be speeding up.

On the other hand, and as you rightly point out there is so little time left that destruction appears to be overtaking evolution. There are a still a large number of people who believe that Global Warming and Climate change is a hoax.

We are not able to move forward in halting the global warming because the politicians, the leaders including the spiritual leaders in the developed world are refusing to tell the people that they will need to cut consumption, accept lower standards of living and share their wealth with the people in underdeveloped countries. The media is not telling this either. Internet is the only hope.

Comment by Daniel Noga on April 17, 2012 at 12:09am

What a yin-yang of news to read! Rifkin's ideas are great. The intergrid is a wonderful idea--a power grid that handles energy the way the internet handles information. The two are very complementary and such a transition would render complete the paradigm shift from centrally-directed, tier-based society to a global system that functions a lot more like a global brain. We're already sharing ideas in ways more similar to the way neurons do, but our energy system does not yet conduct energy the way neurons do. Teilhard de Chardin's noosphere may yet become a reality...

But the news about how much time we have left is not so great. Unfortunately, it looks like things will get worse before they get better. It may be the case that the widespread chaos and disaster that would result from our delayed response to climate change will be the only catalyst strong enough to shake humanity sufficiently from its reigning paradigms. This is not such a surprise, the same is usually true on an individual level--it is times of trauma that are often the most transformative.

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