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In a recent post on Transition Culture, Rob Hopkins linked to a Jeremy Rifkin video. The first half is one of the strongest cases for TEOTWAWKI* that I've seen so far - so pleased be warned, but in the second half he talks about his theory of a Third Industrial Revolution. He suggests that the same kinds of peer to peer networks that have changed the music industry so drastically, might also be the key to more sustainable world economies. The example he talks about is developing decentralised energy production using smart grids and millions of home based power generation sources. So rather than a few massive, centralised power companies, there would be a distributed network of suppliers (something I actually remember John Seymour talking about in his 70's classic - The Complete Guide to Self-Sufficiency). If Napster could put a serious dent in the profits of major record labels, could a Napster inspired energy sharing project have a similar effect on ExxonMobil and Shell? For that matter, what kinds of effects could a peer-to-peer banking system such as Funding Circle have on the out-of-control investment banks? There are, of course, questions of developing new infrastructure, particularly in the case of peer-to-peer energy sharing, and of scaling up, but it's an exciting idea. As Buckminster Fuller argued: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

What do you think?

*The End of the World as We Know it