IT merges with renewable energy: Rifkin
By Do Je-hae
President Lee Myung-bak's "low carbon, green growth" campaign is one of his main legacies, regardless of how much the campaign has actually reduced the country's massive dependence on carbon-based fuel.
The Lee administration has embraced green growth, centered on the usage of natural resources in a sustainable manner, as a core national strategy model. New institutions and forums have been established, with the media stirring up hype about Korea's drive toward becoming an "Asian leader in green economy."
“This government has made a commitment for green growth. I do believe the president and cabinet ministers ― I’ve met some of them ― they are serious," said U.S. economist Jeremy Rifkin during a press conference in Seoul, Wednesday. "Now you’ve got to go from just wanting it and running little projects to actually creating an entire infrastructure across Korea."
Rifkin urged Korean policymakers to "move quickly to an economic plan" for a transition to what he calls a "third industrial revolution," a merge of Internet technology and renewable energy (wind, rain, sunlight, tides and geothermal).
He was in Korea this week to publicize his latest book and attend the Global Green Growth Summit 2012.
The Korean version of the book “The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World” was released here this week. The original version was released in 2011 has had been a New York Times best-seller.
This concept of a new industrial revolution stems from concerns that the current global economy, powered by oil and other fossil fuels, is spiraling into a dangerous endgame. The prices of gas and food are climbing, unemployment remains high, the housing market has tanked, consumer and government debt is soaring, and the economic recovery is slowing. At the same time, there are the daunting challenges of climate change.
In this book, Rifkin explores how Internet technology and renewable energy are merging to create a powerful “third industrial revolution.” Rifkin describes how this 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.
The five pillars of the revolution are: shifting to renewable energy; using buildings as natural power plants; the launching of hydrogen to store intermittent energy; creating energy by sharing a power grid through using the Internet; and introducing electrically powered cars.
“The first and second industrial revolutions scaled vertically because they needed centralized communications. So you had to have centralized factories, centralized logistics, and centralized supply chain. It favored national markets and national governments," Rifkin explained. "But the third industrial revolution scales laterally and it wants continental markets. It comes in like Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi doesn’t respect borders.”
Rifkin said that Korea has the resources to become a leader in the third industrial revolution, such as abundant renewable energy, world-class industries and IT infrastructure.
"Korea has much better solar radiance than Germany. It has a huge wind potential because it is a peninsula. You have a huge tidal and ocean energy. You have world-class industries, shipping and construction industries here. You have the world-class IT and electronics here. You have world-class transport companies here," he said.
Rifkin’s vision has been 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.
Rifkin is the best-selling author of "The European Dream," "The Hydrogen Economy," "The Age of Access," "The Biotech Century," and "The End of Work." A fellow at the Wharton School's Executive Education Program and an adviser to several European Union heads of state, he is the president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Bethesda, Md. Since 1994, he has been a senior lecturer at the Wharton School’s Executive Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
He also serves as chairman of the Global CEO Business Roundtable, which includes IBM, Cisco and Cushman and Wakefield, and has served as an adviser to various global leaders, including Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Angela Merkel of Germany.