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The Industrial Revolution, powered by oil and other fossil fuels, is spiraling into a dangerous endgame. The price of gas and food are climbing, unemployment remains high, the housing market has tanked, consumer and government debt is soaring, and the recovery is slowing. Facing the prospect of a second collapse of the global economy, humanity is desperate for a The Industrial Revolution, powered by oil and other fossil fuels, is spiraling into a dangerous endgame. The price of gas and food are climbing, unemployment remains high, the housing market has tanked, consumer and government debt is soaring, and the recovery is slowing. Facing the prospect of a second collapse of the global economy, humanity is desperate for a sustainable economic game plan to take us into the future. Here, Jeremy Rifkin explores how Internet technology and renewable energy are merging to create a powerful "Third Industrial Revolution." He asks us to imagine hundreds of millions of people producing their own green energy in their homes, offices, and factories, and sharing it with each other in an "energy internet," just like we now create and share information online. Rifkin describes how the five-pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution will create thousands of businesses, millions of jobs, and usher in a fundamental reordering of human relationships, from hierarchical to lateral power, that will impact the way we conduct commerce, govern society, educate our children, and engage in civic life. Rifkin's vision is already gaining traction in the international community. The European Union Parliament has issued a formal declaration calling for its implementation, and other nations in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, are quickly preparing their own initiatives for transitioning into the new economic paradigm. The Third Industrial Revolution is an insider's account of the next great economic era, including a look into the personalities and players -- heads of state, global CEOs, social entrepreneurs, and NGOs -- who are pioneering its implementation around the world.


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The Industrial Revolution, powered by oil and other fossil fuels, is spiraling into a dangerous endgame. The price of gas and food are climbing, unemployment remains high, the housing market has tanked, consumer and government debt is soaring, and the recovery is slowing. Facing the prospect of a second collapse of the global economy, humanity is desperate for a The Industrial Revolution, powered by oil and other fossil fuels, is spiraling into a dangerous endgame. The price of gas and food are climbing, unemployment remains high, the housing market has tanked, consumer and government debt is soaring, and the recovery is slowing. Facing the prospect of a second collapse of the global economy, humanity is desperate for a sustainable economic game plan to take us into the future. Here, Jeremy Rifkin explores how Internet technology and renewable energy are merging to create a powerful "Third Industrial Revolution." He asks us to imagine hundreds of millions of people producing their own green energy in their homes, offices, and factories, and sharing it with each other in an "energy internet," just like we now create and share information online. Rifkin describes how the five-pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution will create thousands of businesses, millions of jobs, and usher in a fundamental reordering of human relationships, from hierarchical to lateral power, that will impact the way we conduct commerce, govern society, educate our children, and engage in civic life. Rifkin's vision is already gaining traction in the international community. The European Union Parliament has issued a formal declaration calling for its implementation, and other nations in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, are quickly preparing their own initiatives for transitioning into the new economic paradigm. The Third Industrial Revolution is an insider's account of the next great economic era, including a look into the personalities and players -- heads of state, global CEOs, social entrepreneurs, and NGOs -- who are pioneering its implementation around the world.

30 review for The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Rifkin's primary thesis is that the previous industrial revolutions occurred when new energy and information technology emerged simultaneously. The 3rd revolution, whose early stages we're in the midst of, is occurring due to the internet and renewable energy, which is lateral, democratic, collaborative, and distributed in nature. The 5 pillars of this revolution are shifting to (1) renewable energy, (2) buildings that act as micro power plants, (3) hydrogen and other energy storage technologies Rifkin's primary thesis is that the previous industrial revolutions occurred when new energy and information technology emerged simultaneously. The 3rd revolution, whose early stages we're in the midst of, is occurring due to the internet and renewable energy, which is lateral, democratic, collaborative, and distributed in nature. The 5 pillars of this revolution are shifting to (1) renewable energy, (2) buildings that act as micro power plants, (3) hydrogen and other energy storage technologies that work in tandem with intermittent renewables, (4) smart grid technology made possibly by the Internet, and (5) electric plug in and fuel cell vehicles that can buy and sell electricity. While the book does not necessarily address these 5 pillars in as much detail as I would like, it's easy to understand where Rifkin is headed and the general principles and strategies for getting there. The middle of the book stalls a bit, as we learn about the details of meetings Rifkin had with important people, but picks up steam again at the end by connecting the 3rd Industrial Revolution to education, the importance of civil society, and the need for a biosphere consciousness. Below are some excerpts that attempt to capture the spirit of this book: "Communication technology is the nervous system that oversees, coordinates, and manages the economic organism, and energy is the blood that circulates through the body politic, providing the nourishment to convert nature's endowment into goods and services to keep the economy alive and growing." (p.35) "The 1st Industrial Revolution favored dense vertical cities that rose upward into the sky. The 2nd Industrial Revolution, by contrast, favored more decentralized suburban developments that stretched outward, in a linear fashion, to the horizon. The 3rd Industrial Revolution brings with it a completely different configuration... We envision thousands of biosphere regions, each node connected by 3rd Industrial Revolution energy, communications, and transport systems, in a network that spans continents." (p.79) "The real question to be asked is, 'Where does industry and government want to be 20 years from now: locked into the sunset energies, technologies, and infrastructures of a failing 2nd Industrial Revolution, or moving toward the sunrise energies, technologies, and infrastructure of an emerging 3rd Industrial Revolution?'" (p.127) "... sharing is to ownership what the iPod is to the eight track, what the solar panel is to the coal mine. Sharing is clean, crisp, urbane, postmodern: owning is dull, selfish, timid, backward." (from NYT, p. 219) "Whether it's rethinking GDP and how to measure the economic well-being of society, revising our ideas about productivity, understanding the notion of debt and how best to balance our production and consumption budgets with nature's own, reexamining our notions about property relations, reevaluating the importance of finance capital versus social capital, reassessing the economic value of markets versus networks, changing our conception of space and time, or reconsidering how the Earth's biosphere functions, standard economic theory comes up woefully short." (p.227) "In the new globally connected 3rd Industrial Revolution era, the primary mission of education is to prepare students to think and act as part of a shared biosphere." (p.235) "In just the short period between 1997 and 2003, there was a 50% drop in the proportion of children 9-12 who spent time outdoors engaged in hiking, walking, gardening, and beach play. Less than 8% of young people now spend time in these traditional outdoors activities." (p.249) "I find it interesting that one of the most often used words among American youth is awesome... Is it possible that its overuse might be a projection of a vast deficit brought on by growing up in a world devoid of the wonders of nature and where reality is technologically simulated...?" (p.251)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    Kind of what you'd expect from Jeremy Rifkin a kind of Ted talk visionary economy the future is gonna be great. This stuff probably gets a lot of play in Aspen-Davos circuit but it gets a little stale from crying wolf so often.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lulu

    Interesting premise, but good LORD what a boring book. All about the meetings the author had with European heads of state to get funding for new energy tech. Listen to an interview with Rifkin, and skip the book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kamil Salamah

    A book of such magnitude; covering the human condition from all aspects to paint the vision of the coming future: the next leap in mankind's evolution bringing it closer to its inherent design, long lost in the hustle of the myths of materialism. The author beautifully puts together what constitutes the essential 5 pillars to leapfrog to the already evolving 3rd phase of our evolution; the third industrial revolution. This is one giant leap bringing with it more freedoms long pursued. The 2nd A book of such magnitude; covering the human condition from all aspects to paint the vision of the coming future: the next leap in mankind's evolution bringing it closer to its inherent design, long lost in the hustle of the myths of materialism. The author beautifully puts together what constitutes the essential 5 pillars to leapfrog to the already evolving 3rd phase of our evolution; the third industrial revolution. This is one giant leap bringing with it more freedoms long pursued. The 2nd industrial revolution is in no doubt aging and must be replaced before its negative impacts harm the globe at large let alone the human condition. The many examples highlighted are proof of the coming future. Lucky are the nations that have accepted this reality and have committed to the change at the highest level. A highly recommended book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liz S

    Distributed generation is a fine idea. Almost entirely misses the concept of how big data servers work with his analogy to the internet, uses a lot of poorly-informed math to make his point, and name drops his meetings with EU officials ad nauseaum. The material would have been better suited for pamphlet, but probably was not worthy of a book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jani-Petri

    Terrible. This book is riddled with factual errors, misleading statements and incoherent thinking. The structure is as follows: buzzword, blaah blaah blaah, name dropping/rubbing shoulders with important people, blaah blaah, factual mistake, more name dropping, blaah blaah, new buzz word. Rifkin writes a lot of energy production and internet, but has no particular training on either as far as I know. Apparently he sees himself as an "ideas guy" and then actual expertise doesn't somehow matter. Terrible. This book is riddled with factual errors, misleading statements and incoherent thinking. The structure is as follows: buzzword, blaah blaah blaah, name dropping/rubbing shoulders with important people, blaah blaah, factual mistake, more name dropping, blaah blaah, new buzz word. Rifkin writes a lot of energy production and internet, but has no particular training on either as far as I know. Apparently he sees himself as an "ideas guy" and then actual expertise doesn't somehow matter. OK, you can write about things you don't have training for, but then I expect you to reference your writing with serious references. Rifkins references tend to be newspaper articles or material from industries he happens to like. He talks of smart grids for electricity as if they are just like internet. This seems quite absurd and Rifkin doesn't actually justify any of this with reasonable arguments. Maybe the main point for him is to be able to use hype around internet as a marketing tool elsewhere? Rifkin has a training in economics, but curiously he seems quite clueless about that as well. He doesn't (seriously!) understand why we would, for example, wish to install solar power in sunny locations since there is light also elsewhere. This stupidity is on the other hand needed since his narrative is about having "micro generators" in all buildings. Acknowledging that there might be reasons for doing things in certain way, would mess up his narrative so it is safer to go with ignorance.(Why not nano generators btw? Isn't that even more hot, distributed and smaller scale?). He claims energy sources such as wind and solar are perfectly adequate and "proves" this by telling how much energy there is in sunlight or wind. I am not aware of anyone claiming that the amount of energy would be insufficient, but still this is the strawman advocates constantly choose to attack. He also tells how there are more jobs in building solar and wind power, but fails to discuss what this implies...namely that the productivity of labor is then lower as are the standards of living. For him "job" is important, not what the work actually accomplishes. (Also, he tells proudly how some scheme could create so many jobs...with subsidies almost 60000$/job. I can promise to create a job for myself watching TV, for example, with 60000$.) In general the book is very light on substance and heavy on marketing. It is a kind of book you expect from some cheerleading consultant. For Rifkin rational arguments and factual accuracy seem unimportant. What is important is whether or not some buzzword he uses enters the "lexicon" of CEO:s or politicians. In a way he reminds a left wing version of Thomas Friedman.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

    I picked the book up because I caught the speech he gave on the same topic. The speech was inspiring, the book is disappointingly much less so. It felt long, tedious and was simply filled with name dropping. I was waiting for him to describe his vision for the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) in greater detail, but that never happened. The closest it got to that was when he alluded to the fact that the TIR will enable this or the TIR will change that without saying how. Watch the Vice speech I picked the book up because I caught the speech he gave on the same topic. The speech was inspiring, the book is disappointingly much less so. It felt long, tedious and was simply filled with name dropping. I was waiting for him to describe his vision for the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) in greater detail, but that never happened. The closest it got to that was when he alluded to the fact that the TIR will enable this or the TIR will change that without saying how. Watch the Vice speech for the overarching themes, but skip this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Greg Linster

    I had to put this one down after reading 50 pages. I was expecting the book to continue to build on the ideas set forth in his book The End of Work, but I was disappointed. It seems that Rifkin has totally abandoned the thesis he set forth in The End of Work. Instead, he has shifted his focus to the vogue issue of climate change and green energy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    Good topics but the book repeats, it repeats, it repeats, it repeats itself a lot. That and the book repeats itself. And just in case, yeah the book repeats itself. It also repeats itself.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Y Chen

    Self praise all over but still inspirational enough to change one's lifepath

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bekzod

    Truly eye-opening book that changes one`s perspective on how to view the world through the prism of upcoming industrial revolution Truly eye-opening book that changes one`s perspective on how to view the world through the prism of upcoming industrial revolution

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kuang Ting

    Mr. Rifkin is an influential futurist. He has the ability to meet national leaders worldwide. He is a consultant in EU bureaucrats as well. Therefore, EU becomes a good paradigm for the demonstration of his ideas. Honestly, I expect highly on this book, but it turns out a bit disappointing. The whole book is better described as marketing booklet, not an inspiring title. Indeed, he shows us great ideas, but the structure is just not coherent. He seems to write whatever occurred to him. He talks Mr. Rifkin is an influential futurist. He has the ability to meet national leaders worldwide. He is a consultant in EU bureaucrats as well. Therefore, EU becomes a good paradigm for the demonstration of his ideas. Honestly, I expect highly on this book, but it turns out a bit disappointing. The whole book is better described as marketing booklet, not an inspiring title. Indeed, he shows us great ideas, but the structure is just not coherent. He seems to write whatever occurred to him. He talks about his personal projects with prominent people. He applauded himself throughout the book. Giving miscellaneous data to support the arguments works okay. My biggest complain is the book doesn't entice you to read. It's fairly dry. You can skim through the whole book quickly and still get his points. He emphasizes the upcoming trend of distributed capitalism. A nice example is the smart grid. Traditionally, the energy or power is managed centrally. It is not very efficient. In the future, he advocates the distribution of power management to households. Households become the basic unit to generate electricity. The smart gird will connect everyone. By some careful coordination, it's said the efficiency will enhance greatly and improve the living quality. He centers on the energy mostly throughout the book. In addition, he talks about some mega trends that are actually making the world more connected. I like his grand ideas in fact. If you want to learn about how energy will reshape our future world, you will find the book inspiring. Others may find the arguments a bit vague, not knowing their meaning to us. Overall, it's an informative book, but less interesting.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Lubell

    Other people in the club liked it more than I did. I liked the first third (but even in that part I thought he could have explained the Third Industrial Revolution more. The middle seemed too much boasting about himself and who he met and who he convinced to adopt the TIR. The last section seemed to be random ideas with little to no connection to the TIR. Yes, Green Schools is a good idea but not sure it's really *industrial.*

  14. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    Highly aspiration book with some intriguing ideas -- and clear warnings -- about our ecological, economical and social predicament(s). Some of this stuff clicks for me, and some of the things I was studying and thinking about several years ago. I need to talk to others about some ideas that I find crucial and imperative and some that I find flawed. Takers?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Had some salient points. However, he was very grandiose in his thoughts on how the new energy market would change the world, and he didn't offer many details as to the current difficulties. Worth the read for someone new to the subject.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amber Hyun Jung Kim

    Pop economics. Nuff said. Clearly written but the ideas are way too grandiose. Also, i still find myself skeptical of anyone whose job title is "social thinker."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Craig Becker

    Fantastic book, I will be reading more of his books and watching more of his video's. Great insight into how we can transform society. Rather than complaining about how things are, he lays out a clear and comprehensive plan about how to move forward. His plan is to help us move to a distributive and collaborative society. He suggests, and I agree, this can be the next evolutionary economic model. He builds this distributive and collaborative world on 5 Pillars. 1. A Shift to Renewable Energy; 2. Fantastic book, I will be reading more of his books and watching more of his video's. Great insight into how we can transform society. Rather than complaining about how things are, he lays out a clear and comprehensive plan about how to move forward. His plan is to help us move to a distributive and collaborative society. He suggests, and I agree, this can be the next evolutionary economic model. He builds this distributive and collaborative world on 5 Pillars. 1. A Shift to Renewable Energy; 2. Buildings with micro power plants that Produce Energy, not just use it; 3. Hydrogen deployment and storage and other intermittent energies; 4. Intelligent Grid to collect and sell and therefore share clean energy; 5. Transition to plug in Fuel Cell Vehicles. He suggests, this Third Industrial Revolution TIR, will, like the last, take time to transition into. Also like the last 2, it will be a transformation. He suspects it will be slightly more than ½ of the 50 years it took in the first and second industrial revolution transitions. Throughout the book and his many presentations available on YouTube, he helps us change our relationship with earth. He encourages us to view nature from an engagement, replenishment, integration and holism perspective, rattan than from a detachment, expropriation, dissection and reductionist way.He helps us understand why the relationship is a partnership. He helps the reader understand that nature is not objects to use and discard. He also helps us understand why we must move from power and autonomy over nature to a partnership and participation with nature. It is really what all relationships should and can be. This book helped clarify for me how to practice paneugenesis and what we must do to develop pervasive, reciprocal selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. For that to happen, we must understand that everyone and everything is connected so for our benefit and more, we should develop better interdependent relationships with everyone and everything. He ends with this thoughtful quote, "Only when we begin to think as an extended global family that not only includes our species but all our fellow travelers, in the evolutionary sojourn or Earth, will we be able to save our biosphere community and RENEW the planet for future generations."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Yvo Hunink

    While we were setting up Energy Bazaar, a decentralised energy market protocol for the global South, we often felt alone in our vision for the energy democracy. I wish I had found the insights of Jeremy Rifkin sooner so that we would have been able to mingle around in the TIR community. Also, we might have been more successful in attracting capital for our distributed energy platform, where most 'second industrial revolution' investors saw nothing in our hard-to-sell product. Rifkin lays out a While we were setting up Energy Bazaar, a decentralised energy market protocol for the global South, we often felt alone in our vision for the energy democracy. I wish I had found the insights of Jeremy Rifkin sooner so that we would have been able to mingle around in the TIR community. Also, we might have been more successful in attracting capital for our distributed energy platform, where most 'second industrial revolution' investors saw nothing in our hard-to-sell product. Rifkin lays out a strong vision, with which I couldn't agree more and has actually been my focus for the past 3 years. But 5 stars would be too much. More than a vision, a sparse few insights and many anecdotes from Rifkin' meetings with 'important people', this book has not given that much more to work with. While the TIR masterplans were surely already being executed at the time of writing, the book largely fails to go deeper into these plans, how they are set up, and what you can do yourself to work on the Third Industrial Revolution. I guess these materials are available elsewhere and the book did not have this as a scope, I wish some more potential pathways towards becoming a contributor were presented.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    I respect what Rifkin has done in persuading world leaders to begin to work toward a renewable future. He has helped several government entities (including the EU) to make plans toward implementing an increase in renewable energy sources, creating continent wide smart grids, transitioning transportation to plug-in or fuel cell technologies, and using hydrogen as a source of power storage. These are praiseworthy accomplishments. However, this book suffers from too much philosophical meandering I respect what Rifkin has done in persuading world leaders to begin to work toward a renewable future. He has helped several government entities (including the EU) to make plans toward implementing an increase in renewable energy sources, creating continent wide smart grids, transitioning transportation to plug-in or fuel cell technologies, and using hydrogen as a source of power storage. These are praiseworthy accomplishments. However, this book suffers from too much philosophical meandering and insufficient concrete solutions. As a consequence, it sounds too much like wishful thinking. Rifkin mentions dire future issues such as diminishing food production, the eminent end of petrochemical manufacturing (plastics, medicines, and so forth), and the dismal state of our environment; yet, he mentions them only in a cursory manner. He does not address solutions to these beyond his hope that lateral power will somehow produce the miracle of abundance. While I am fully supportive of the energy solutions that he offers, his meanderings about "the economy and the world" are more philosophy than solutions. I agree fully with his philosophy, but I was hoping for something more concrete from a man who is at the forefront of government planning.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wilder Acuña

    Well, I was hoping more, and I just finished the book and I feel that I didn't like it so much. At the begining of the book, it appeared to be excellent but later the author started to talk about meetings with important people and I felt as he was bragging about the influential people he knows. Also, at the end he talks about the education and the schools and other things that don't seem to have a strong relation with the rest of the book or maybe the transitions between the last chapters was so Well, I was hoping more, and I just finished the book and I feel that I didn't like it so much. At the begining of the book, it appeared to be excellent but later the author started to talk about meetings with important people and I felt as he was bragging about the influential people he knows. Also, at the end he talks about the education and the schools and other things that don't seem to have a strong relation with the rest of the book or maybe the transitions between the last chapters was so abrupt that I thought I was reading a different book. One thing that I liked much was the five pillars of the third industrial revolution because I have thought in those since few years ago, well four of them. It would have been wonderful if the author would had depeened the information about them.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    Author outlines a future that is quickly coming true where energy generation will be distributed and the people will gain power (literally and figuratively). This will reduce reliance on large fossil fuel companies and increase independence and possibly redistribute wealth. People will move closer together (i.e. cities) and work more as an efficient community. Buildings will be more energy-efficient. The internet has helped to promoted this. He uses lots of buzz words. The book more outlines a Author outlines a future that is quickly coming true where energy generation will be distributed and the people will gain power (literally and figuratively). This will reduce reliance on large fossil fuel companies and increase independence and possibly redistribute wealth. People will move closer together (i.e. cities) and work more as an efficient community. Buildings will be more energy-efficient. The internet has helped to promoted this. He uses lots of buzz words. The book more outlines a future world as opposed to how to get there. Good read for anyone in the energy industry or just curious about how energy may influence our lives in the future. Only time will tell what will happen.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Consumers will have little difficulty adapting to the new age of better products, swiftly delivered. Governments, however, may find it harder. Their instinct is to protect industries and companies that already exist, not the upstarts that would destroy them.As the revolution rages, governments should stick to the basics: better schools for a skilled workforce, clear rules and a level playing field for enterprises of all kinds. Consumers will have little difficulty adapting to the new age of better products, swiftly delivered. Governments, however, may find it harder. Their instinct is to protect industries and companies that already exist, not the upstarts that would destroy them. As the revolution rages, governments should stick to the basics: better schools for a skilled workforce, clear rules and a level playing field for enterprises of all kinds.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The book concentrates on political problems and the proposed solution. The technical problems are not discussed and it appears the author isn't aware of them. The unadulterated optimism prevalent in the book is wholly unwarranted. Unrepresentative anecdotes and misunderstood analogies are used as arguments. It's a laudable goal but maybe it would be worthwhile to partner with someone who understands science for a book like this.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Oh man is this book boring! Just watch the TED Talk. Summary: we need to create a grid system like the internet that can help us wean off of oil and use solar/electric energy. Each chapter talks about how he talked to big shots in europe to do it and how he helped certain american cities do it, etc. Seriously, skip this book, but definitely let's get this guy to help us all spark the third industrial revolution.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joao Vargas

    Really good book that clearly explains what's the future of the planet if we keep on using hard energy and provides alternative ways based on green energy and IT. Well written, it never gets bored and it's understandable without specialized knowledge on the topic. Should be a mandatory reading if we want to avoid the destruction of planet Earth.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ip Sing

    This book is insightful and helps one to think through various issues and possibilities as we embrace a world where fossil fuel is running out. Implementing the ideas will require continuous discussions at various levels, from the governments to local residents everywhere. A must read for anyone interested to know the possibilities for a post fossil fuel world.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

    Finally gave up on this book. Some really interesting ideas in here but I found it a hard slog through endless name dropping and big noting about which mid level beaurocrat he spoke to at such and such summit. I don't know these people or their institutions for the most part. I would love a condensed version without the play by play characters.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jason Orthman

    Very good book on how to transition the world from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Some good insights and data. The so called Third Industrial Revolution would address climate change and provide a new source of jobs.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonas Brock

    Incredibly interesting and complex book that will take time and concentration to finish. Rifkin pinpoints the exact steps that we need to not only combat climate change, but also make sure that we do so by creating functioning economic systems as we go.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Shearer

    awsome read

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