Third Industrial Revolution

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= book by Jeremy Rifkin and concept about the convergence of communication and energy revolutions as well as project to carry these ideas out



"Energy is the material basis for human survival and development. . . .

  • The first industrial revolution, from 1770 to 1860, . . . . . . was built on Coal in England. . . .
  • The second industrial revolution, from 1910 to 2010, . . . . . . was built on Electricity in United States. . . .
  • The third industrial revolution, . . . . . . will be built on Renewable Energy and Energy Internet."


2. From the Wikipedia:

"The Third Industrial Revolution is a concept and vision outlined by Jeremy Rifkin and endorsed by the European Parliament, in a formal declaration passed in June 2007 [1]. Throughout history, economic transformations occur when new communication technology converges with new energy systems. The new forms of communication become the medium for organizing and managing the more complex civilizations made possible by the new sources of energy. The conjoining of internet communication technology and renewable energies in the 21st century, is giving rise to the Third Industrial Revolution." (


"The Third Industrial Revolution is based upon 5 Pillars:

  1. Shifting to Renewable Energy
  2. Converting Buildings into Power Plants
  3. Hydrogen and Other Energy Storage Technology
  4. Smart Grid Technology
  5. Plug in, Electric, Hybrid, and Fuel Cell based Transportation

Third Industrial Revolution infrastructure are:

Shifting to Renewable Energy: Renewable forms of energy— solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, ocean waves, and biomass— make up the first of the five pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution. While these energies still account for a small percentage of the global energy mix, they are growing rapidly as governments mandate targets and benchmarks for their widespread introduction into the market in spite of an almost total absense of cost-effectiveness or broad applicability, and their falling costs (due almost entirely to government tax-funding to hide costs) make them increasingly competitive in a political environment focused on believing in GREEN.

Buildings as Power Plants: New technological breakthroughs make it possible, for the first time, to design and construct buildings that create all of their own energy from locally available renewable energy sources, allowing us to reconceptualize the future of buildings as “power plants”. The commercial and economic implications are vast and far reaching for the real estate industry and, for that matter, Europe and the world. In 25 years from now, millions of buildings – homes, offices, shopping malls, industrial and technology parks – will be constructed to serve as both “power plants” and habitats. These buildings will collect and generate energy locally from the sun, wind, garbage, agricultural and forestry waste, ocean waves and tides, hydro and geothermal– enough energy to provide for their own power needs as well as surplus energy that can be shared.

Deploying Hydrogen and other storage technologies in every building and throughout the infrastructure to store intermittent energies. To maximize renewable energy and to minimize cost it will be necessary to develop storage methods that facilitate the conversion of intermittent supplies of these energy sources into reliable assets. Batteries, differentiated water pumping, and other media, can provide limited storage capacity. There is, however, one storage medium that is widely available and can be relatively efficient. Hydrogen is the universal medium that “stores” all forms of renewable energy to assure that a stable and reliable supply is available for power generation and, equally important, for transport.

Using Internet technology to transform the power grid of every continent into an energy sharing intergrid that acts just like the Internet. The reconfiguration of the world's power grid, along the lines of the internet, allowing businesses and homeowners to produce their own energy and share it with each other, is just now being tested by power companies in Europe. The new smart grids or intergrids will revolutionize the way electricity is produced and delivered. Millions of existing and new buildings—homes, offices, factories—will be converted or built to serve as “positive power plants” that can capture local renewable energy—solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydro, and ocean waves—to create electricity to power the buildings, while sharing the surplus power with others across smart intergrids, just like we now produce our own information and share it with each other across the Internet.

Transitioning the transport fleet to electric, plug in and fuel cell vehicles that can buy and sell electricity on a smart continental interactive power grid. The electricity we produce in our buildings from renewable energy will also be used to power electric plug-in cars or to create hydrogen to power fuel cell vehicles. The electric plug in vehicles, in turn, will also serve as portable power plants that can sell electricity back to the main grid.

If these five pillars were capable of delivering on the "promises", they would make up an indivisible technological platform—an emergent system whose properties and functions are qualitatively different from the sum of its parts. In other words, the synergies between the pillars create a new economic paradigm that can transform the world." (


From the Wikipedia:

"The introduction of steam-powered technology into printing transformed the medium into the primary communication tool to manage the First Industrial Revolution. The steam printing machine with rollers, and later the rotary press and linotype, greatly increased the speed of printing and significantly reduced the cost. Print material, in the form of newspapers, magazines, and books, proliferated in America and Europe, encouraging mass literacy for the first time in history. The advent of public schooling on both continents between the 1830s and 1890s created a print-literate workforce to organize the complex operations of a coal-powered, steam-driven rail and factory economy. In the 1900s (decade), electrical communication converged with the oil-powered internal combustion engine, giving rise to the Second Industrial Revolution. The electrification of factories ushered in the era of mass-produced manufactured goods, the most important being the automobile. Henry Ford began to mass-produce his gasoline-powered Model T car, altering the spatial and temporal dynamic of society. Virtually over night, millions of people began to trade in their horses and buggies for automobiles. To meet the increased demand for fuel, the nascent oil industry revved up exploration and drilling, making the United States the leading oil producer in the world. Within two decades, cement highways were laid out across vast stretches of the American landscape and American families began relocating in new suburban communities that only a few years earlier were isolated rural hamlets. Thousands of miles of telephone lines were installed, and later radio and television were introduced, recasting social life and creating a communication grid to manage and market the far-flung activities of the oil economy and auto age.

The theory argues that conjoining Internet communication technology and renewable energies is giving rise to a Third Industrial Revolution. The creation of a renewable energy regime, loaded by buildings, partially stored in the form of hydrogen, distributed via an energy internet—a smart intergrid—and connected to plug in zero emission transport, opens the door to a Third Industrial Revolution. The entire system is interactive, integrated and seamless. This interconnectedness is creating whole new opportunities for cross-industry relationships. The Third Industrial Revolution brings with it a new era of “distributed capitalism” in which millions of existing and new businesses and homeowners become energy players. In the process, it will create millions of green jobs, jump start a new technology revolution, and dramatically increase productivity, as well as mitigate climate change." (



Jeremy Rifkin:

"History's great economic revolutions occur when new communication technologies converge with new energy systems. Energy revolutions make possible more expansive and integrated trade. Accompanying communication revolutions manage the new complex commercial activities. In the 18th and 19th centuries, cheap print technology and the introduction of state schools gave rise to a print-literate workforce with the skills to manage the increased commercial activity made possible by coal and steam power, ushering in the First Industrial Revolution. In the 20th century, centralised electricity communication -- the telephone, radio and television -- became the medium to manage a more complex and dispersed oil, auto and suburban era, and the mass consumer culture of the Second Industrial Revolution.

Today, internet technology and renewable energies are about to merge to create a powerful infrastructure for a Third Industrial Revolution (TIR). In the coming era, hundreds of millions of people will produce their own green energy and share it in an "energy internet", just as we now ­generate and share information online. The ­creation of a renewable energy regime, loaded by buildings, partially stored in the form of hydrogen, distributed via an energy ­internet and connected to plug-in zero-emission transport, establishes a five-pillar infrastructure that will spawn thousands of businesses and millions of sustainable jobs. The democratisation of energy will also bring with it a reordering of human relationships, impacting the way we conduct business, govern society, educate our children and engage in civic life.

The TIR will lay the foundations for a collaborative age. Its completion will signal the end of a 200-year commercial saga characterised by industrious thinking, entrepreneurial markets and mass workforces, and the beginning of a new era marked by collaborative behaviour, social networks and boutique professional and technical workforces. In the coming half-century, conventional, centralised business operations will be increasingly subsumed by the distributed business practices of the TIR; and the traditional, hierarchical organisation of power will give way to lateral power organised nodally across society." (


Jeremy Rikin:

"Energy regimes shape the nature of civilizations... how they are organized, how the fruits of commerce and trade are distributed, how political power is exercised, and how social relations are conducted. The locus of control over energy production and distribution is beginning to tilt from giant fossil fuel based centralized energy companies to millions of small producers, who are generating their own renewable energies in their dwellings and trading surpluses in Info-Energy Commons." (

Distributed Capitalism

Jeremy Rifkin:

"The new era will bring with it a reorganization of power relationships across every level of society. While the fossil fuel-based First and Second Industrial Revolutions scaled vertically and favored centralized, top-down organizational structures operating in markets, the Third Industrial Revolution is organized nodally, scales laterally, and favors distributed and collaborative business practices that work most effectively in networks. The "democratization of energy" has profound implications for how we orchestrate the entirety of human life in the coming century. We are entering the era of "Distributed Capitalism."

The partial shift from markets to networks establishes a different business orientation. The adversarial relationship between sellers and buyers is replaced by a collaborative relationship between suppliers and users. Self-interest is subsumed by shared interest. Proprietary information is eclipsed by a new emphasis on openness and collective trust. The new focus on transparency over secrecy is based on the premise that adding value to the network doesn't depreciate ones own stock, but, rather, appreciates everyone's holdings as equal nodes in a common endeavor.

In industry after industry, cross-sector networks are competing with autonomous transaction-based business models, and peer-to-peer business practices conducted in commercial commons are challenging competitive business operations in siloed markets.

Distributed capitalism ushers in new business models, including 3D printing in the manufacturing of durable goods and performance contracting and shared savings ventures in the service and experiential sectors, which greatly reduces capital, energy and labor costs, and increases productivity. In the new lateral economy, the exchange of property in markets is increasingly subsumed by just-in-time access to goods and services in networks, purchased in the form of leases, rentals, timeshares, retainer agreements, and other kinds of time allotments.

When thousands of businesses -- large companies, SMES, and cooperatives -- connect with one another in vast networks, the distributed power often exceeds the power of standalone giant companies that characterized the First and Second Industrial Revolutions." (

Beyond Right and Left

"The emerging Third Industrial Revolution is not only changing the way we do business, but also the way we think about politics. The struggle between the older hierarchical power interests of the Second Industrial Revolution and the nascent lateral power interests of the Third Industrial Revolution is giving rise to a new political dichotomy, reflective of the competing forces vying for dominance in the commercial arena. A new political script is being written, recasting the very way people will view politics as we move deeper into the new era.

When was the last time you heard anyone under the age of twenty-five rant about his or her ideological beliefs? Something very strange is happening out there. Ideology is disappearing. Young people aren't much interested in debating the fine points of capitalist or socialist ideology or the nuances of geopolitical theory. Their political leanings are configured in an entirely different way.

Our global policy team began picking up on this phenomenon as we became more engaged in the political process in Europe, the United States and other countries. We have come to discover what we suspect is a new political mindset emerging among a younger generation of political leaders socialized on Internet communications. Their politics is less about right versus left and more about centralized and authoritarian versus distributed and collaborative. This makes sense.

The two generations whose sociability has been formed, in large part, by Internet communications, are far more likely to divide the world into people and institutions that use top-down, enclosed, and proprietary thinking, and those that use lateral, transparent, and open thinking. As they come of age, they are affecting a shift in political thinking--one that will fundamentally alter the political process in the twenty-first century." (


"While the First and Second Industrial Revolutions were accompanied by national economies and nation-state governance, The Third Industrial Revolution, because it is distributed and collaborative by nature, scales laterally along contiguous landmasses, and favors continental economies and continental governing unions. Continentalization is becoming the new path to globalization.

Sharing renewable energy laterally, in power, communications and transport networks that stretch across continents, like we now share information virtually in social networks across the internet, is going to radically transform the political world. The new energy relationships will require governing jurisdictions that are similarly lateral and networked and that encompass the outer limits of the TIR's geographical reach, which are the edges of continents. If not inevitable, it is at least highly likely that continental unions will become the new governing jurisdictions to regulate emerging continental markets around the world in the 21st Century.

The European Union is the first continental economy and political union to begin transitioning into a Third Industrial Revolution. Continental unions have recently been formed in Asia (The ASEAN Union), Africa (The African Union) and South America (The Union of South American Nations). In North America, the fledgling political associations forged between the northern states and Canadian provinces are a precursor to a potential continental union.

Although localities, regions, and national governments will not disappear in the coming century -- they will actually be strengthened -- continental unions provide an expansive political framework for overseeing integrated continental markets." (

From Geopolitics to Biosphere Politics

Jeremy Rifkin:

"The intercontinental era will slowly transform international relations from geopolitics to biosphere politics. A new approach to political life on the planet is just beginning to emerge, based on operating principles and assumptions that are more compatible with the dynamics of a Third Industrial Revolution economic model, and the ecological constraints imposed by the Earth's biosphere.

In the geopolitical world of the fossil fuel-based First and Second Industrial Revolutions, the Earth was conceived in a mechanical and utilitarian fashion. The planet was viewed as a container -- a storehouse -- full of useful resources ready to be appropriated for economic ends. Nation states were formed to compete with one another in the market and on the battlefield, to seize, secure, and control elite fossil fuel energies and rare earth resources.

The shift in energy regimes from elite fossil fuels to distributed renewable energies will redefine the very notion of international relations more along the lines of ecological thinking. If the earth functions more like a living organism made up of layer upon layer of interdependent ecological relationships, then our very survival depends on mutually safeguarding the well-being of the global ecosystems of which we are all a part. Because the renewable energies of the Third Industrial Revolution are ample, found everywhere, and easily shared, but require collective stewardship of the earth's ecosystems, there is less likelihood of hostility and war over access and a greater likelihood of global cooperation. In the new era, survival is less about competition than cooperation, and less about the search for autonomy than the quest for embeddedness.

The old geopolitics was accompanied by a scientific paradigm that viewed nature as objects; the new biosphere science, by contrast, views nature as relationships. The old science is characterized by detachment, expropriation, dissection, and reduction; the new science is characterized by engagement, replenishment, integration, and holism. The old science is committed to making nature productive; the new science is committed to making nature sustainable. The old science seeks power over nature; the new science seeks partnership with nature. The old science puts a premium on autonomy from nature; the new science, on re-participation with nature.

The new biosphere science takes us from a colonial vision of nature as an enemy to pillage and enslave, to a new vision of nature as a community to nurture. The right to exploit, harness, and own nature in the form of property is tempered by the obligation to steward nature and treat it with dignity and respect. The utility value of nature is slowly giving way to the intrinsic value of nature. This is the deep meaning of sustainable development, and the very essence of biosphere politics.

Biosphere politics facilitates a tectonic shift in the political landscape; we begin to enlarge our vision and think as global citizens in a shared biosphere. Global human rights networks, global health networks, global disaster relief networks, global germ plasm storage, global food banks, global information networks, global environmental networks, and global species protection networks, are a powerful sign of the historic shift from conventional geopolitics to fledgling biosphere politics." (

Retiring Adam Smith

"It's been nearly fifty years since I took my introductory class in classical economic theory at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. I have watched a transformation take place in the workings of the economy over the ensuing half century--most of which has never been integrated into the standard economics textbooks. The once-unquestioned value of unlimited economic growth has given way to the idea of sustainable economic development. The conventional, top-down, centralized approach to organizing economic activity that characterized the fossil fuel-based First and Second Industrial Revolutions, is being challenged by the new distributed and collaborative organizing models that go with a Third Industrial Revolution. The hallowed nature of property exchange in markets has been partially upended by shared access to commercial services in open-source social networks. National markets and nation-state governance, once the spatial milieu for all economic activity, are giving way to continental markets and continental governments. The result is that much of economics, as it is taught today, is increasingly irrelevant in explaining the past, understanding the present, and forecasting the future.

Although the term paradigm shift has been grossly overused in recent years, I think it's safe to say that when it comes to economic theory, the term is apt. Our children's understanding of economic theory and the governing assumptions of economic practice will be as radically different from ours as the market theorists' ideas are from the "just price" philosophy that governed late medieval commerce and trade.

Whether it's rethinking GDP and how to measure the economic well-being of society, revising our ideas about productivity, understanding the notion of debt and how best to balance our production and consumption budgets with nature's own, reexamining our notions about property relations, reevaluating the importance of finance capital versus social capital, reassessing the economic value of markets versus networks, or reconsidering how the Earth's biosphere functions, standard economic theory comes up woefully short.

On these and other accounts, the changes taking place in the way we understand human nature and the meaning of the human journey are so profoundly disruptive to the way we have thought over the past two hundred years that spawned the first two industrial revolutions, that it is likely that much of classical and neoclassical economic theory that accompanied and legitimized these two earlier industrial eras will not survive the newly emerging economic paradigm.

What is likely to happen is that the still-valuable insights and content of standard economic theory will be rethought and reworked within the context of the thermodynamic laws that govern the flow of energy and ecosystem dynamics. Using the laws of energy as a common language will allow economists to enter into a deep conversation with engineers, chemists, ecologists, biologists, architects, and urban planners, among others, whose disciplines are grounded in the laws of energy. Since these other fields are the ones that actually produce economic activity, a serious interdisciplinary discussion over time could potentially lead to a new synthesis between economic theory and commercial practice and the emergence of a new, explanatory economic model to accompany the Third Industrial Revolution paradigm." (

A Classroom Makeover

"Preparing the workforce and citizenry for the new society will require rethinking the traditional educational model, with its emphasis on rigid instruction, memorization of facts, reductionist thinking and autonomous learning.

In the new globally connected Third Industrial Revolution era, the primary mission of education is to prepare students to think and act as part of a shared biosphere.

In schools all over the world, teachers are instructing students, from the earliest ages, that they are an intimate part of the workings of the biosphere and that every activity they engage in --the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the car their family drives, the electricity they use -- leaves an ecological footprint that affects the well-being of other human beings and other creatures on earth.

A new generation of educators is beginning to deconstruct the classroom learning processes that accompanied the First and Second Industrial Revolutions and reconstitute the educational experience along lines designed to encourage an extended ecological self, imbued with biosphere consciousness. The dominant top-down approach to teaching, the aim of which is to create a competitive, autonomous being, is beginning to give away to a "distributed and collaborative" educational experience with an eye to instilling a sense of the shared nature of knowledge. Intelligence, in the new way of thinking, is not something one inherits or a resource one accumulates but, rather, a shared experience distributed among people.

New lateral learning environments, including virtual global classrooms and service learning in the community, break through the conventional classroom walls, making education a more expansive and inclusive experience. Peer-to-peer learning compliments the traditional, authoritarian model of teaching, by emphasizing students' responsibility to also learn from and teach each other in structured cohort groups.

Interdisciplinary learning, multicultural studies, empathic scientific experimentation, and a systems approach to integrating knowledge, are among the cutting-edge teaching practices that are forcing a fundamental change in the educational process and preparing students to live in a complex, multidimensional, global society.

The new distributed and collaborative approach to learning mirrors the way a younger generation learns and shares information, ideas, and experiences on the Internet in "open source" learning spaces and social media sites. Distributed and collaborative learning also prepares the workforce of the 21st Century for a Third Industrial Revolution economy that operates on the same set of principles." (

The Dream of Quality of Life

The Third Industrial Revolution changes our sense of relationship to and responsibility for our fellow human beings. We come to see our common lot. Sharing the renewable energies of the earth in collaborative commons that span entire continents can't help but create a new sense of species identity. This dawning awareness of interconnectivity and biosphere embeddedness is already giving birth to a new dream of "quality of life," especially among the youth of the world.

The American dream, long held as the gold standard for aspiring people everywhere, is squarely in the Enlightenment tradition, with its emphasis on the pursuit of material self-interest, autonomy and independence. Quality of life, however, speaks to a new vision of the future -- one based on collaborative interest, connectivity and interdependence. We come to realize that true freedom is not found in being unbeholden to others and an island to oneself but, rather, in deep participation with others. If freedom is the optimization of one's life, it is measured in the richness and diversity of one's experiences and the strength of one's social bonds. A life less lived is an impoverished existence.

The dream of quality of life can only be experienced collectively. It is impossible to enjoy a quality of life in isolation by excluding others. Achieving a quality of life requires active participation by everyone in the life of the community and a deep sense of responsibility by every member to ensure that no one is left behind.

While Enlightenment economists were convinced that happiness and "the good life" was tautological with the accumulation of personal wealth, a younger generation, at the cusp of the Third Industrial Revolution, is just as likely to believe that, while economic comfort is essential, it is not sufficient to ensure a full life, and that one's happiness is equally proportional to the accumulation of social capital.

The change in thinking about the meaning of happiness is beginning to affect one of the key indices for measuring economic prosperity. The Gross Domestic product (GDP) was created in the 1930s to measure the value of the sum total of economic goods and services generated over a single year. The problem with the index is that it counts negative as well as positive economic activity. If a country invests large sums of money in armaments, builds prisons, expands police security and has to clean up polluted environments and the like, it's included in the GDP.

In recent years, economists have begun to create alternative indexes for measuring economic prosperity based on quality of life indicators, rather than mere gross economic output. These new indices measure the general improvement in the well-being of society and include such things as: infant mortality and longevity of life, the availability of health coverage, the level of educational attainment, average weekly earnings, the eradication of poverty and income equality, affordability of housing, the cleanliness of the environment, biodiversity, the decrease in crime, the amount of leisure time, etc. The governments of France, the UK, and the European Union, as well as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations are each creating formal quality of life indexes with the expectation of relying increasingly on these new measurements to judge the overall performance of the economy.

If quality of life requires a shared notion of our collective responsibility for the larger community in which we dwell, the question becomes "Where does that community end?" In the new era, our spatial and temporal orientation gravitates beyond political boundaries to encompass the larger community we all inhabit -- the biosphere itself." (

Project Status Update

1. Anna Harris, June 8, 2013:

"Update on Third Industrial revolution, Jeremy Rifkin's long-term economic sustainability plan formally endorsed in June 2007 by the European Parliament, with the aim of making Europe the flagship for a green economic recovery for the world.

In 2009 Jeremy Rifkin set up The Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) Global CEO Business Roundtable in response to an invitation from San Antonio to plan the first post-carbon city in North America. 'There were 25 high level experts from some of the leading TIR companies in the world - IBM, Philips, Schneider, GE, CH2M Hill, Siemens, Q-Cells, Hydrogenics, KEMA, and others.'

During the next year the Roundtable drew up a master plan for the city of Rome for Mayor Gianni Alemanno, announced 2010. The project was selected for presentation at the Shanghai Expo (2011?), progress report from IBM which is supplying the energy grids. Plans were also prepared for the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands."

2. Shawn Moorhead:

"Xinhua News Agency reported that Premier Li Keqiang had read The Third Industrial Revolution book with great interest and had instructed the National Development and Reform Commission and the Development Research Center of the State Council to read the book and follow up with a thorough study of the ideas and themes it puts forth. [1] Mr. Rifkin's book, The Third Industrial Revolution was published in China in June of 2012 and was the number one bestselling business book, currently with over 400,000 copies in print.

Lastly, there has been a recent development with far reaching implications for China and the world. The Chairman of the State Grid Corporation of China, Liu Zhenya, published an article (attached) entitled “Smart Grid Hosting and Promoting the Third Industrial Revolution.” In the essay, Liu Zhenya lays out China’s ambitious plan to lead the world into the Third Industrial Revolution and a new sustainable post carbon energy era. The government is dedicating an initial $82 billion to establish a Third Industrial Revolution distributed “energy Internet” that will serve as a technology platform and infrastructure for ushering in a new economic paradigm. Under the plan, millions of people in neighborhoods and communities across the country as well as hundreds of thousands of businesses will be able to produce their own green electricity locally and share it on a national energy Internet, just like they now create and share information online." (email, January 2014)

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