Economist and trend-spotter Jeremy Rifkin predicts that the evolution of energy production and distribution — from fossil fuels to more decentralized renewable energy — will transform the global economy. He joins us to discuss his latest book, “The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World.”

Jeremy Rifkin 3 October,2011forum

Jeremy Rifkin, founder and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends and author of books including "The Third Industrial Revolution," "The Hydrogen Economy" and "The End of Work"

  • Mitchell Oster

    What can an individual do to enact the kind of political will necessary to create a plan or roadmap on a national level?

  • Jeffreyszilagyi

    Is this a revolution in public health?

  • Tracy

    I’m fascinated to hear how comprehensive your thoughts and plans regarding both energy and global warming are.  You’ve addressed both economic problems, climate problems and energy issues.

    Fantastic program, and I’ll be purchasing your book.  Thank you.



  • During the brutal manipulation of California’s energy supply by Enron, I installed PV solar panels on my roof.  If I could have shaped them in an obscene gesture toward Enron HQ, I would have.

    I’ve long since reached break-even and now get my electricity for nearly nothing.  I wish more had done the same.

  • 1PeterDuMont2STARALLIANCE8

    What a mind!  Many thanks to Jeremy Rifkin for being a beacon of coherent intelligence and analysis.  He really has the big picture and a penetrating vision of its vital, interlocking components.  He also has the courage to speak out on what’s what, and provide leadership on where “We, the People” and our governments and industries worldwide need to go with energy policy.  One hopes the legal, political, and communications control regimes will allow for the pace of change required.  We may have to improve these systems rather dramatically in order to save our global economies and environment.  Let’s all realize we’re on this Spaceship Earth together before it’s too late.

    • utera

      No he sounds more like the half truth rosy picture guy.  Countries he mentioned like germany think the risk of tsunami is worse than global warming apparently and have decommissioned their nuclear program. Countless amounts spent by europe in eco generation whether solar or whatever have not born fruit, whether jobs or technology, he talks of china but yes, china is more than happy to build ineffecient solar panels subsidized by european tax payers all the while they know what they really have to do…and so they build two new coal power plants each and every week.

  • Able2b

    Has anyone did a comparison about the level of subsidies paid to industry for nuclear and coal based energy versus the costs of putting solar onto houses?

  • Natalie Batalha

    You mentioned he’d be at the Commonwealth Club today and one other venue which I missed.  Can somebody please post the information about that second venue?  

    • LMR

      He’ll be at : THE BOOKSMITH1644 Haight Street  7:30 PM

  • youdar

    We are a very new startup working on developing a new smart energy server. 
    We are looking for people with expertise in control theory, inverters and grid integration. If you want to help and maybe to take a part in this effort please email 

  • Grant Grundler

    First, I agree largely with what Mr. Rifkin offers here: distributed energy production from every part of our infrastructure. Will definitely produce the jobs, social and health benefits he’s envisioning.

    I disagree with his assertion we can store excess energy in hydrogen. That’s not technically feasible today and engineers/scientists don’t believe it will be feasible in the 30 or 40 years either. Google search it. For the next couple of decades, we will need to distribute energy storage the same was we distribute energy production: perhaps using batteries in electric cars, or recycled batteries from electric cars, pump water to higher elevation, compress air, whatever.

  • RA

    This was another painful program to listen to.  This guy came off as a snake oil salesman of the first order.  

    For one thing, the stuff he’s pushing w/ his smart grid etc. is trivial and obvious.  Yes, for the past 30 years or so we’ve been adding computers to everything so that we can make things more efficient than they were when we didn’t have the technology.   The “smart grid” is slowly going to happen whether this guy publishes his book and collects his consulting fees or not.

    Look at hybrid cars as a parallel case.   The first hybrid was built 110 years ago ( )… 20 years BEFORE the Model T.   It’s not that people didn’t KNOW about hybrids, but it hasn’t been a PRACTICAL solution until recent years.   That’s all.

    Like @fd86d840dcfab71bbd0cc682d4fa5ecd:disqus  said above … hydrogen is something that lots of people want to do, but it’s not there yet.   Do you want a hydrogen fuel cell car?  Honda can make them for ~$150k (   All we need to do is pass some legislation to make it mandatory for everyone to buy one… and problem solved!

    Here, can I be a futurist too?    In the future personalized medicine and nanomachines are going to allow us to target cancers and pathogens with such precision that today’s anti-biotics and highly toxic chemotherapy will look as quaint as medieval blood-letting.   Am i a genius now ?  

    I also like that he used Italy as an example of sound lending policy for green stuff.  The same  Italy that’s part of the euro debt crisis and whose debt was just downgraded two weeks ago.  ( )

    If this guy had some humility and said “here’s some neat things about the arc of history and where it might lead us…” instead of this “follow me to glorious future!!1!1”  i’d be a bit more receptive.   Of course there’s much fewer consulting dollars in that…

    • Jaan Carter

      It’s so brave of you to cynically dis everything Rifkin said but not even leave your first name, much less your last… are you a paid Troll?  Or just a Bot?  Or what IS your problem?  You’re an Oil guy?  I don’t think the smart grid is trivial or obvious, and your personal attack on Rifkin points to the weakness of your lame arguments.  Phooo.

    • guest

      Bitter much?

  • Warrack

    Default for Greece would be wonderful. It would provide the basis for their regaining their sovereignty. Without it, they are slaves to the international financiers, who have been the real power running the world for the last 500 years.

  • Jaan Carter

    I think Rifkin is right on, and it’s so exciting to hear that there is some hope for this planet!  Not only will these ideas help the climate, the planet, people and animals, but also the Earth’s Citizens will be empowered as control moves from the Elite corporatists to The People.  Yeah, let’s go!

  • Amazing interview.  Loved his insight that (paraphrased)–grid parity is not parity.  By that, I think he meant, for example, solar does not need to be as cheap as coal to be competitive because externalities aren’t in the price.  Locally produced solar is at least protection from cost escalation and a pillar of geopolitical stability, even if you lean republican on climate change.  I’d love to hear that sales pitch to promote “alternatives” as more than alternatives.  Thanks for the interview, MK.

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