Jeremy Rifkin Blog

The Third Industrial Revolution: What It Is and Why It’s Needed

The promotion of renewable energy is nothing new, but in order to achieve a future, that’s not only prosperous but also sustainable means that new technologies must be embraced sooner rather than later.

Despite some denying that climate change is even an issue, there is flooding occurring in every part of the world, and the more worrying aspect of this is that it has become the new normal.

What Are the Reasons for Climate Change?

Although there are greenhouse gases that occur naturally, human activity has meant that the gases are occurring on a more regular basis, with the following being released in the atmosphere in concentrated amounts.

  • Carbon Dioxide (co2)
  • Methane
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Fluorinated Gases

The reasons what the above gases are being released into the environment in plentiful quantities can be attributed to the following:

  • Burning of Coal and Gas
  • Deforestation
  • The Increase of Livestock Farming

Of course, much of this has been due to a reliance on the way things have worked in the past, but to be able to reduce the global average temperature, change is needed on a global scale. This is where the Third Industrial Revolution comes into play

What is the Third Industrial Revolution?

Industrial revolutions are based on new technologies and concepts that allow for a different way of working. The first Industrial Revolution involved the use of steams, which allow from the production of cheap textbooks, and was also aligned with the cheap price of coal to allow for steam-powered transportation.

The Second Industrial Revolution came in the form of centralised communications, cheap Texas oil and the creation of the internal combustion engine.

The Third Industrial Revolution will need to take the current dependency on fossil fuels and focus on renewable energy such as solar and wind.

Currently, there are over $100 trillion in stranded assets used with the fossil fuel industry. Moving towards self-sufficient communities that can create their own power using wind and solar can work in partnership with energy companies to ensure a more positive approach is taken when dealing with the distribution of energy.  

What Steps Are Currently Being Taken?

Iceland is one of the first countries to embrace renewable energy and can now boast that all its energy is 100% renewable. There are also steps being taken to ensure that buildings are being retrofitted to make them more energy-efficient moving forward.

However, for the real change to be recognised, it’s important the world adopts renewable energy. Not only is the use of renewable energy more suitable for the environment in its current state but allows for more affordable energy to be rolled out to Third World countries that currently can’t contend with the exorbitant price of fossil fuel.

The need for distributed energies has also been recognised by the 27 member states of the European Union, and a five-pillar infrastructure was endorsed by the European Parliament in 2007 and was set out as follows:

  • Pillar 1: A goal of 20% renewable energy by 2020.
  • Pillar 2: Determining how renewable energy will be collected.
  • Pillar 3: How renewable energy will be stored.
  • Pillar 4: Deciding how to distribute renewable energy.
  • Pillar 5: How transportation will be integrated into a renewable energy infrastructure.

These pillars will not only be used to generate a future where people can create their own power but also means that there are opportunities to create businesses and jobs in the thousands, as well as restructuring the world of commerce as a whole.

What About the Big Players in the Energy Sector?

It goes without saying that companies that are currently profiting from fossil fuels will be fearful of renewable energy which can be distributed freely, but it’s already a big part of daily life in many countries, and as more and more people start to generate their own power, the need for a middleman charging heavy premiums will no longer be required.

This isn’t to say the companies will fade in the distance, but they will need to accept the before long, people will be able to forward energy in the same way they forward information.

The Third Industrial Revolution will need a lot of changes, and not all of them are easy to deploy. However, the change needed isn’t impossible, and the sooner it’s implemented, the more sustainable the world can be moving forward.