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The Global Environmental Crisis

The Path to Sustainable Development

Lecture Synopsis:

In his lecture, "The Global Environmental Crisis: The Path to Sustainable Development", Mr. Rifkin provides a big-picture analysis of the major ecological challenges of the 21st century and the economic and political initiatives that will need to be put in place to address them.

Mr. Rifkin's talk begins with a broad overview of the far-reaching ecological and economic impacts that “real-time global warming” and the rising price of energy on world markets are having on the earth's biosphere. The presentation examines how climate change, population growth, consumer lifestyles, and economic development are resulting in loss of biodiversity, shrinking habitats, water shortages and spreading deforestation and desertification.

Mr. Rifkin helps his audience better understand concepts like “caring capacity” and “sustainable development” by exploring the principles of ecology and the laws of thermodynamics (the energy laws). This part of the discussion is designed to be both educational and ‘audience friendly' providing a strong theoretical context for understanding ecology and the environmental challenges we face.

Mr. Rifkin devotes a considerable amount of his lecture to exploring solutions. He introduces trailblazing new economic models that are fundamentally changing the way companies do business. Sustainable development has moved from the periphery to the center of economic planning in corporate boardrooms as industries and firms adjust their business activities to accommodate the environmental challenges ahead. Mr. Rifkin describes the many new business opportunities emerging and gives examples of best practices around the world. He discusses cutting-edge high-technologies being readied or introduced into the marketplace to address environmental concerns, with particular emphasis on renewable energy technologies and distributed power generation using intelligent electricity grids. Mr. Rifkin analyzes the many new investment opportunities opening up with the “greening” of the global economy.

Mr. Rifkin also explores lifestyle changes, and changes in education that are preparing the current generation to think and act in a more environmentally sensitive manner in daily life.

The presentation goes onto examine the changing political landscape as countries make the historic transition from the geopolitics of the 20th century to the biosphere politics of the 21st century. The global environmental crisis is forcing a profound shift in human consciousness. For the first time in the long history of our species, we are beginning to think as a human race, with responsibilities to each other, future generations, our fellow creatures, and the planet we jointly inhabit. Mr. Rifkin will explore the changing political consciousness and end by calling upon the business community to lead, by example, into a sustainable environmental future.

Mr. Rifkin lectures on global environmental issues and sustainable economic development in the Advanced Management Program and Executive Education program at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania,. He is an advisor to heads of state and Fortune 500 companies around the world on global environmental issues and sustainable development. Mr. Rifkin is currently advising the President of the European Union, Prime Minister Jose Socrates of Portugal, as well as the European Parliament.

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