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restructures human relationships, from top to bottom to side to side, with profound consequences for the future of society. The music companies did not understand distributed power until millions of young people began sharing music online, and corporate revenues tumbled in less than a decade. Encyclopedia Britannica did not appreciate the distributed and collaborative power that made Wikipedia the leading reference source in the world. Nor did the newspapers take seriously the distributed power of the blogosphere; now many publications are either going out of business or transferring much of their activities online. The implications of people sharing distributed energy in an open commons are even more far-reaching.To appreciate how disruptive the Third Industrial Revolution is to the existing way we organise economic life, consider the far-reaching changes that have taken place in just the past twenty years with the introduction of the Internet revolution. The democratisation of information and communication has altered the very nature of global commerce and social relations as significantly as the print revolution in the early modern era. Now, imagine the impact that the democratisation of energy across all of society is likely to have when managed by Internet technology. The Third Industrial Revolution build-out is particularly relevant for the poorer countries in the developing world. We need to keep in mind that 40 per cent of the human race stills lives on two dollars a day or less, in dire poverty, and the vast majority have no electricity. Without access to electricity they remain "powerless," literally and figuratively. The single most important factor in raising hundreds of millions of people out of poverty is having reliable and affordable green electricity. All other economic development is impossible in its absence. Universal access to electricity is the indispensible starting point for improving the lives of the poorest populations of the world.Because renewable energy - solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and biomas - is widely distributed, a Third Industrial Revolution is likely to take off quickly in the developing world. Although a lack of infrastructure is often viewed as an impediment to development, what we are finding is that because many developing nations are not saddled with an aging electricity grid, they can potentially "leapfrog" into a Third Industrial Revolution. In other words, by building a new, distributed electricity system from scratch, rather than continuing to patch up an old and outworn grid, developing countries significantly reduce the time and expense in transitioning into a new energy era. Moreover, because of the distributed nature of the Third Industrial Revolution infrastructure, risk can be more widely diffused, with localities and regions pooling resources to establish local grid networks, and then connecting with other nodes across regions. This is the very essence of lateral power.When communities around the world take responsibility for stewarding their part of the biosphere and sharing the green electricity they generate with millions of others across continental energy internets, we begin to extend the notion of family to all of the human race and our fellow creatures on Earth. We come to understand that we are as deeply connected with one another in the ecosystems that make up the biosphere as we are in the social networks of the blogosphere. We create biosphere consciousness. The Third Industrial Revolution offers the hope that we can arrive at a sustainable post-carbon era by mid-century. We have the science, the technology, and the game plan to make it happen. Now it is a question of whether we will recognise the economic possibilities that lie ahead and muster the will to get there in time. nAbout the AuthorJeremy Rifkin is the author of The New York Times best selling book, The Third Industrial Revolution, How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World. Mr Rifkin is an adviser to the European Union and to heads of state around the world. He is a senior lecturer at the Wharton School's Executive Education Programme at the University of Pennsylvania and the President of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, D.C. RENEWABLE ENERGY 055

Why to invest in Wind EnergySteve Sawyer, Secretary-General, Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC)056 renewable energy