Mapping the Sustainable City

Today I went to a great forum on Leadership, Innovation and Sustainability at the Brickworks in Toronto.

Jeremy Rifkin kicked off the day with a brilliant, visionary speech about the Third Industrial Revolution (the title of his yet-to-be-released book).

He argued that every time we now try to restart the engine of the economy the engine shuts down within 3-4 year intervals because we have hit peak oil production and peak globalization. When oil hits $147 a barrel as it did in July 2008, all the costs across the supply chain went through the roof, from construction to chemicals to heat, light, waste, etc. He says the collapse of the financial markets was the aftershock. (Not to let Wall St off the hook). We are at a dangerous end game of regrowth followed by collapse.

We need a new eco vision that is compelling, practical and delivered in less than 40 years that gets us off carbon.

He then went on to talk about a 5 pillar plan he’s working on in Europe which includes; committing to renewables, collecting and connecting energy distribution, storage, building a distributed nervous system of infrastructure and finally electric and plug in transportation.

It’s all laid out in The Third Industrial Revolution: How lateral power is transforming energy, the economy and the world.

Some of the choice quotes and interesting items from the day included;
– walmart announcing their student challenge with over $100K in prizes
– George Hazel talking about maximizing exchange space while minimizing movement space
– Tom Rand talking about Planet Traveller, his uber-cool green hostel in Toronto. He shared that by unlocking 5% of his capital in the building he saw a 75% reduction in the energy load at a profit
– every 10 days the world is building another city the size of Toronto
– a reference to Dan Kahan’s (Yale) study saying we are more likely to form our decisions based on what those around us think than on the actual data

The event was a who’s who of the green innovation and green cities and sustainability movement. Geoff Cape hosted the event and brought together the stellar group of people for the third year in a row. If you haven’t checked out Evergreen’s leadership in the space have a look. They are at the forefront of a crucial new space.

2 thoughts on “Mapping the Sustainable City

  1. Interesting post. I’m curious to learn more about his theory that we are actually hitting peak oil every time our economy really heats up and that we are now stuck in 3-4 year cycles of growth and then contraction. If so, the need for alternative sources of fuel is much more urgent than most of us thought.
    Also, love the quote “every 10 days the world is building a city the size of Toronto”. You don’t believe it until you take a trip to China and see cities as big as and more modern than NYC that you’ve never heard of.

    1. Hi Kelly, He says the need to end our fossil fuel age is critical. We hit peak oil per capita in 1979 and peaked global oil production at 70M barrels a day in Dec 2010. We only have 40 years to come up with a totally new approach. I would recommend getting a copy of his new book. I think it comes out imminently.

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About vickisaunders

Vicki is a serial entrepreneur, passionate mentor and advisor to the next generation of change makers and leading advocate for entrepreneurship as a way of creating positive transformation in the world. Vicki is founder of SheEO. SheEO supports women who create businesses that build new models, new mindsets and new solutions for a better world. SheEO is building out a global platform to accelerate, finance and celebrate women-led ventures on their own terms. Vicki has co-founded and run 4 ventures in Europe, Toronto and Silicon Valley including The NRG Group (which went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2000. Vicki was selected as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum.