Jeremy Rifkin (born January 26, 1945) is an American economic and social theorist, writer, public speaker, political advisor, and activist. Rifkin is the author of 20 books about the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, the workforce, society, and the environment.
- The human journey is, at its core, about the extension of empathy to broader and more inclusive domains. At first, the empathy extended only to kin and tribe. Eventually it was extended to people of like-minded values – a common religion, nationality or ideology. In the 19th century, the first humane societies were established, extending the empathy to include our fellow creatures. Today, millions of people, under the banner of the animal rights movement, are continuing to deepen and to expand human concern for, and empathy toward, our fellow creatures.
- For years, governments, corporations, and researchers have argued that the testing of animals to assess the risk of chemicals to human health is essential to ensure the well-being of our own species. But now, new breakthroughs in the field of genomics, bioinformatics, epigenetics, and computational toxicology are providing new research tools for studying the impact of toxic chemicals on human health that are far more accurate in assessing the risk of these chemicals to human beings. Antivivisection societies and animal rights organizations have made this argument for many, many years—only to be scorned by scientific bodies, medical associations, and industry lobbies who accuse them of being “anti-progress” in caring more about animals than people. Now it is the scientific establishment, interestingly enough, that has come to the very same conclusions.
Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture (1992)
- The ever-increasing cattle population is wreaking havoc on the earth's ecosystems, destroying habitats on six continents. Cattle raising is a primary factor in the destruction of the world's remaining tropical rain forests. … Cattle are also a major cause of global warming. … The devastating environmental, economic, and human toll of maintaining a worldwide cattle complex is little discussed in public policy circles. … Yet, cattle production and beef consumption now rank among the gravest threats to the future well-being of the earth and its human population.
- pp. 1-2
- The real story of how the west was won bears little resemblance to the storybook accounts handed down to generations of young Americans. Behind the facade of frontier heroism and cowboy bravado, of civilizing forces and homespun values, lies a quite different tale: a saga of ecocide and genocide, of forced enclosures of land and people, and the expropriation of an entire subcontinent for the exclusive benefit of a privileged few.
- p. 107
- It seems disingenuous for the intellectual elite of the first world to dwell on the subject of too many babies being born in the second- and third-world nations while virtually ignoring the overpopulation of cattle and the realities of a food chain that robs the poor of sustenance to feed the rich a steady diet of grain-fed meat. The transition of world agriculture from food grain to feed grains represents a new form of human evil, whose consequences may be far greater and longer-lasting than any past examples of violence inflicted by men against their fellow human beings.
- pp. 159-160
- The societal decision to reduce beef will profoundly affect the economics of human survival in the coming century. In the new world that is coming, millions of human beings will voluntarily choose to eat lower on the food chain so that millions of others may obtain the minimum food calories they need to sustain their lives. This grand redistribution of the earth's bounty, the most far-reaching in history, will unite the human race in a new fraternal bond. A new species awareness will begin where the rich meet the poor on the descending rungs of the world's protein ladder. The decision to eat further down on the planet's food chain will force a wholesale reassessment of the entire grain-fed meat complex ranging from factory farm chickens to hogs. The collapse of the global cattle complex will likely precipitate a chain reaction, resulting in the elimination of other grain-fed meats from the human diet. The dissolution of the commercial cattle complex will spare the rich and might help save the poor. Eliminating grain-fed beef and eating lower on the food chain will dramatically reduce the incidence of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
- p. 290
The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism (2014)
- Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-1-137-27846-3
- The capitalist era is passing . . . not quickly, but inevitably. A new economic paradigm—the Collaborative Commons—is rising in its wake that will transform our way of life. We are already witnessing the emergence of a hybrid economy, part capitalist market and part Collaborative Commons. The two economic systems often work in tandem and sometimes compete. They are finding synergies along each other’s perimeters, where they can add value to one another, while benefiting themselves. At other times, they are deeply adversarial, each attempting to absorb or replace the other.
- On a second front, a powerful new technology platform is developing out of the bowels of the Second Industrial Revolution, speeding the central contradiction of capitalist ideology to the end game mentioned above. The coming together of the Communications Internet with the fledgling Energy Internet and Logistics Internet in a seamless twenty-first-century intelligent infrastructure—the Internet of Things (IoT)—is giving rise to a Third Industrial Revolution. The Internet of Things is already boosting productivity to the point where the marginal cost of producing many goods and services is nearly zero, making them practically free. The result is corporate profits are beginning to dry up, property rights are weakening, and an economy based on scarcity is slowly giving way to an economy of abundance.
- The social Commons is where we generate the good will that allows a society to cohere as a cultural entity. Markets and governments are an extension of a people’s social identity. Without the continuous replenishment of social capital, there would be insufficient trust to enable markets and governments to function, yet we pejoratively categorize the social Commons as “the third sector” as if it were less important than markets or governments.
- That’s why paradigm shifts are so disruptive and painful: they bring into question the operating assumptions that underlie the existing economic and social models as well as the belief system that accompanies them and the worldview that legitimizes them.
- Like it or not, giant, vertically integrated corporate enterprises were the most efficient means of organizing the production and distribution of mass produced goods and services. Bringing together supply chains, production processes, and distribution channels in vertically integrated companies under centralized management dramatically reduced transaction costs, increased efficiencies and productivity, lowered the marginal cost of production and distribution, and, for the most part, lowered the price of goods and services to consumers, allowing the economy to flourish. While those at the top of the corporate pyramid disproportionately benefited from the increasing returns on investment, it’s only fair to acknowledge that the lives of millions of consumers also improved appreciably in industrialized nations.
- The Protestant theologian replaced the church’s feudal cosmology with a worldview centered on the personal relationship of each believer with Christ. The democratization of worship fit well with the new communication/energy matrix that was empowering the new burgher class.
- Getting to near zero marginal cost and nearly free goods and services is a function of advances in productivity. Productivity is “a measure of productive efficiency calculated as the ratio of what is produced to what is required to produce it.” If the cost of producing an additional good or service is nearly zero, that would be the optimum level of productivity.
- (...) Gandhi also distanced himself from classical economic theory. Adam Smith’s assertion that it is in the nature of each individual to pursue his or her own self-interest in the marketplace and that “it is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of the society, which he has in view,” was anathema to Gandhi.54 He believed in a virtuous economy in which the community’s interest superseded individual self-interest and argued that anything less depreciates the happiness of the human race.
- WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF AN EPIC CHANGE in the nature of work. The First Industrial Revolution ended slave and serf labor. The Second Industrial Revolution dramatically shrank agricultural and craft labor. The Third Industrial Revolution is sunsetting mass wage labor in the manufacturing and service industries and salaried professional labor in large parts of the knowledge sector.
- For starters, the emerging zero marginal cost economy radically changes our notion of the economic process. The old paradigm of owners and workers, and of sellers and consumers, is beginning to break down. Consumers are becoming their own producers, eliminating the distinction. prosumers will increasingly be able to produce, consume, and share their own goods and services with one another on the Collaborative Commons at diminishing marginal costs approaching zero, bringing to the fore new ways of organizing economic life beyond the traditional capitalist market model.
- Should we worry about social media sites sharing everything they know about us with third-party commercial interests? Of course, no one wants to be pestered by targeted advertising. More sinister, however, is the prospect of health insurance companies learning whether you had been Googling research on specific illnesses or prospective employers prying into your personal social history by analyzing your data trail on the Web to spot potential quirks, idiosyncrasies, or even possible antisocial behavior.
- The proliferation of microgrids in the poorest regions of the developing world, powered by locally generated renewable energy, provides the essential electricity to run 3D printers, which can produce the tools and machinery needed to establish self-sufficient and sustainable twenty-first-century communities.