March 10th, 2014: Jeremy Rifkin

About Jeremy Rifkin

Jeremy Rifkin is the bestselling author of nineteen books on the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, the workforce, society, and the environment. His books have been translated into more than thirty five languages and are used in hundreds of universities, corporations and government agencies around the world.

The Third Industrial Revolution

In 2011, Jeremy Rifkin published the New York Times bestseller The Third Industrial Revolution, which captured the attention of the world. Mr. Rifkin’s vision of a sustainable, post carbon economic era has been endorsed by the European Union and the United Nations and embraced by world leaders including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President François Hollande of France, and Premier Li Keqiang of China. Mr. Rifkin’s other recent titles include, The Empathic Civilization, The Age of Access, The End of Work, The European Dream, The Biotech Century and The Hydrogen Economy. Jeremy Rifkin has been an advisor to the European Union for the past decade. Mr. Rifkin also served as an adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Jose Socrates of Portugal, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain, and Prime Minister Janez Janša of Slovenia, during their respective European Council Presidencies, on issues related to the economy, climate change, and energy security. He currently advises the European Commission, the European Parliament, and several EU and Asian heads of state. Mr. Rifkin is the principle architect of the European Union's Third Industrial Revolution long-term economic sustainability plan to address the triple challenge of the global economic crisis, energy security, and climate change. The Third Industrial Revolution was formally endorsed by the European Parliament in 2007 and is now being implemented by various agencies within the European Commission as well as in the 27 member-states. Jeremy Rifkin is the President of the TIR Consulting Group LLC, comprised of many of the leading renewable energy companies, electricity transmission companies, construction companies, architectural firms, IT and electronics companies, and transport and logistics companies. His global economic development team is working with cities, regions, and national governments to develop the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure for a Collaborative Commons and a Third Industrial Revolution.

Recognized Worldwide

Mr. Rifkin is a senior lecturer at the Wharton School's Executive Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania where he instructs CEOs and senior management on transitioning their business operations into sustainable Third Industrial Revolution economies. From 1995-2010, Mr. Rifkin taught in the Advanced Management Program at Wharton. Mr. Rifkin's monthly column on global issues has appeared over the years in many of the world's leading newspapers and magazines, including The Los Angeles Times in the United States, The Guardian in the U.K., Die Süddeutsche Zeitung and Handelsblatt in Germany, Le Soir and Knack in Belgium, L'Espresso in Italy, El Mundo and El País in Spain, Kathimerini in Greece, Informatíon in Denmark, De Volkskrant in the Netherlands, Hospodárské Noviny in the Czech

Republic, Wort in Luxembourg, Clarín in Argentina, and Al-Ittihad in the U.A.E. Mr. Rifkin holds a degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a degree in international affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Rifkin speaks frequently before government, business, labor and civic forums. He has lectured at hundreds of the world's leading corporations as well as more than 300 universities in some thirty countries in the past four decades. Mr. Rifkin is the founder and president of The Foundation on Economic Trends ( in Bethesda, MD. The Foundation examines the economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts of new technologies introduced into the global economy.

Relevant Articles

The Third Industrial Revolution: How the Internet, Green Electricity, and 3-D Printing at Ushering in a Sustainable Era of Distributed Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin, Published in The World Financial Review

Forbes Interview: Jeremy Rifkin's Third Industrial Revolution by Terry Waghorn, Published December 12, 2011

Beyond Austerity: A Sustainable Third Industrial Revolution Economic Growth Plan For the European Union (An Executive Summary of Jeremy Rifkin's Keynote Speech for the Mission Growth Summit: Europe at the Lead of the New Industrial Revolution, hosted by The European Commission, May 29th, 2012)


Footage of Guest Speakers


Jeremy Rifkin’s seminar at the Cintas depicts the sense of urgency with which we must accost both the “sunset” of the 2nd industrial revolution and the subsequent degradation of the environment.  Rifkin focuses largely on lateral integration, the collaborative commons (a system for sharing everything free of charge), energy at zero marginal cost, and examples of multitudinous revolutions occurring across the globe.  He continues by highlighting the three aspects of economic and energetic revolution: communication, transportation, and a source of power.  Although we are a long way from a comprehensive zero marginal cost society, Rifkin chooses to view the impending energy/economic crisis as a tremendous opportunity for communication, collaboration, and cooperation, precipitated by the development of the internet.


Dr. Amory Lovins opens with a lengthy elucidation of transportation reform, as well as the salutary effects of undertaking such an arduous reformation of policy and manufacturing.  His proposal for smarter car manufacturing completely removes our dependence on foreign oil, reduces costs of production and environmental costs, and reduces traffic.  The sum total saving of all of his changes (hidden and unhidden) would sum to $12 trillion.  Lovins surmises that both oil and electricity use will fall as technology allows for drastically increased efficiency.  His prophecies are exemplified by his own practice of integrative design and retrofitting.  Lovins also debunks myths regarding the so-called inefficiency associated with using renewable energies, pointing out myriad inefficiencies rampant in the current system. 


Joan Fitzgerald’s delivery focalizes on urban planning and realized sustainable city policy.  Although she acknowledges that discussion regarding issues of sustainability is a touchstone of American governmental discourse, she highlights our lack of action based on said discussions.  Citing examples of experimental communities and various other countries, Fitzgerald convinces us that through good policy and comprehensive urban planning, we can fabricate idyllic cities through government and social incentive.  In fact, the leaders and innovators in solar and wind power are not in the places with the most energy available, but where incentives, research, and emphasis on new energy technology.  In essence, Joan Fitzgerald urges us to “just do it.”


Founder of Recology in San Francisco, Robert Besso spearheads the effort to manage and utilize waste in new and innovative ways.   He recounts the history of recycling, starting with the implicit assumption that recyclables would be reused in the early 1900s, then the downturn of recycling up until the 1970s, with the advent of the environmental movement.  In San Francisco, the government has incentivized responsible waste management by cajoling the public via policy to pay for the trash they produce that ends up in landfills.  Such simple measures encourage composting and recycling, resulting in increased sustainability.  Besso points out that waste diversion (i.e. recycling, composting) decreases CO2 burden on the atmosphere, and decrease the carbon debt by enriching and enlivening the soil, and consequently, surrounding plants.  Subsequently, Besso describes the specific aspects of his company that effectively reduce and remove waste.

William McDonough, professor at Stanford, environmental pioneer (cradle to cradle business structure), and erudite leader in the environmental movement discusses the importance of sustainable business practices, our current pitfalls, and opportunities for greater success.  McDonough emphasizes the importance of new business models being “more good” and not “less bad.”  He also proceeds to highlight the ideological alteration necessary for enacting real change – supporting nature instead of attempting to domineer it (i.e. nature is NOT capital.  Nature is nature).  In addition, McDonough elucidates the energy crisis, depicting it as an issue of allocation and not of availability.  He spends a good amount of time etymologically deconstructing “sustainable” language, and rewriting the proverbial book on how we interpret sustainability.  McDonough advocates using the laws of nature to aggregate revenue in terms of human capital.