Jeremy Rifkin spoke last week at the Behaviour Change for Sustainability Congress in Sydney. He took me from feeling that we are all going to crash and burn to feeling that we are about to evolve successfully into a new kind of civilisation, and all in 40 minutes! Along the way, just for fun, he shared research that shows that we, along with many mammals, have an ‘empathy neuron’ which means that if we are watching somebody struggle with something, like cracking open a walnut, (for example), our brains fire up exactly as if we were having the same struggle ourselves. What a rollercoaster.
I was really interested in Europe’s new economic gameplan, which he has helped to shape. It starts with the usual ‘surely you don’t mean me?’ goal (20% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020), but then gets specific. All new buildings will be energy neutral or positive, so can actually feed energy back into the grid – resulting in a boom for construction, design and green technologies. Energy needs to be stored – so there’s going to be an 8 Billion Euro rollout using various technologies like hydrogen conversion. 1 Trillion Euros will be spent developing communication systems so that they will be capable of sending energy peer to peer across cyberspace and continents. And, of course, transport will become much greener.
His point is that we have two key things almost in place to help us to evolve into our next phase, following the pattern of human development over the ages. We have a new, distributive (not top down) communication system through the web; and new sources of (also distributive) energy from sunshine, wind, water and other renewable sources.
But how do we make it happen in time? Or is it already too late?
Check out his book (by clicking the image below) for yourself and make up your own mind.
Lovin’ books that make a difference,