On 20 October 2011, the Rafael del Pino Foundation, as part of its Master Lecture programme, welcomed Jeremy Rifkin, who gave a lecture on "The Third Industrial Revolution", the title of his latest work, published by Editorial Paidós.
On the turbulence facing the European Union, Jeremy Rifkin argued that we cannot afford to dismantle the euro: "That would severely damage the European Union project. We need austerity, but it must be reasonable; it must protect the European dream and not discriminate against anyone. There will be cuts, but they must be accompanied by a solid plan for growth based on the concept of the Third Industrial Revolution [...] Europe is a market of 500 million people, to which we can add the same number in its main trading partners. If we create the technological, energy and communications infrastructures to link them, we will be talking about the largest internal market in the world. It will be a sustainable market, not dependent on fossil fuels, mitigating the effects of climate change and creating a prosperous future for our children.
Jeremy Rifkin's concept of the Third Industrial Revolution is, in his view, the only way forward: "There is no Plan B out of the crisis; it's about common sense. We must eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels, which are becoming increasingly expensive and scarce, as they are running out. They are also responsible for climate change; their use endangers our survival as a species [...]. The only possible plan is to use renewable energies, in conjunction with communication technologies and the Internet. In the future, millions of people will produce green energy by 'harvesting', in their homes and workplaces, the sun on their roofs, the wind in their walls and the heat from the ground. They will have the possibility, thanks to the Internet, to share this energy through an integrated, smart energy grid covering the entire European continent, creating an efficient market for trading the energy produced. Storage through hydrogen technology will avoid wasting the electrical power generated, which will ultimately power means of transport using electricity or hydrogen cells as a source of energy. We will thus achieve a society that will be able to have 'green mobility'. These five pillars will support a huge technological platform and develop the Third Industrial Revolution. It will leave the fossil fuel era behind and create millions of jobs, thousands of businesses and a new economy with a much lower impact on the environment. I am not saying that fossil fuels have been bad; they have allowed us to develop our economy and improve our standard of living compared to previous generations. But we must leave them behind if we want to secure the existence of our civilisation and our species.