The Age of Resilience
A New Story for Humanity
A sweeping new interpretation of the history of civilization and a transformative vision of how our species will thrive on a rewilding Earth
In The Age of Resilience, the renowned economic and social theorist asks where do we go from here knowing that we are careening into the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth. If there is a change to reckon with argues Rifkin, it’s that we are realizing that the human race never had dominion over the earth and that the agencies of nature are far more formidable than we thought, while our species seems much smaller and less significant in the bigger picture of our evolving planet, undermining our long-cherished world view. The Age of Progress, once considered sacrosanct, is unraveling while a powerful new narrative, The Age of Resilience, is taking hold.
Rifkin takes us on a path-breaking journey exploring new ways of stewarding life on the planet. Re-conceptualizing time and the navigation of space sets the context for the paradigm shift. During The Age of Progress, efficiency was the gold standard for organizing time, locking our species into the unrelenting quest to optimize the expropriation, commodification, and consumption of the Earth’s bounty, at ever greater speeds and in ever shrinking time intervals, with the objective of increasing the opulence of human society but at the expense of the depletion of nature. Space, observes Rifkin, became synonymous with passive natural resources, while a principal role of government and the economy was to manage nature as property. This long adhered to temporal/spatial orientation, writes Rifkin, has taken humanity to the commanding heights as the dominant species on Earth and to the ruin of the natural world. In the emerging era, says Rifkin, efficiency is giving way to adaptivity as the all-encompassing temporal value, while space is perceived as animated, self-organizing, and fluid. A younger generation is already pivoting from growth to flourishing, finance capital to ecological capital, productivity to regeneratively, hyper-consumption to eco-stewardship, gross domestic product (GDP) to quality of life indicators (QLI), intellectual property rights to open-source sharing of knowledge, globalization to glocalization, geopolitics to biosphere politics, nation-state sovereignty to bio-regional governance, and representative democracy to citizen assemblies and distributed peerocracy.
Future generations, suggests Rifkin, will likely experience existence less as objects and structures and more as patterns and processes and come to understand that each of us is literally an ecosystem made up of the microorganisms and elements that comprise the hydrosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. The autonomous self of the Age of Progress is giving way to the ecological self of the Age of Resilience. The now worn Scientific Method that underwrote The Age of Progress is also falling by the wayside, making room for a new approach to science called Complex Adaptive Social/Ecological Systems modeling. Likewise, detached reason is weakening while empathy and biophilia are mainstreaming. With human anguish mounting, Rifkin offers up a bold new blueprint for rethinking our way of life and how the human race and our fellow creatures might flourish in the coming Age of Resilience.
– Tim Bartlett, Executive Editor, St. Martin’s Press
Jeremy Rifkin is the bestselling author of 22 books translated into 35 languages. He is a principal architect of the European Union’s and China’s economic plans for transitioning into a Third Industrial Revolution to address climate change and has also served as an advisor to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer on the U.S. Build Back Better infrastructure plan. He is listed among the top ten most influential economic thinkers in the Huffington Post global survey of “The World’s Most Influential Voices”. Mr. Rifkin taught in the Wharton School’s Advanced Management Program from 1995 to 2010.
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Reviews of The Age of Resilience
“By worshipping efficiency, we’ve managed to build an economic system that melted the Arctic. [In his new book The Age of Resilience] Jeremy Rifkin argues that it’s time to prioritize resilience instead…I defy anyone not to be fascinated and provoked by the vision he unfolds!”
– Bill McKibben, Pioneer Climate Activist and Author
“In The Age of Resilience, Jeremy Rifkin has challenged us to think differently about the world around us. He asks us – demands of us – to look at the consequences of progress, along with the accomplishments, and to imagine a new way of forging ahead…. to create systems that are more aligned with the natural world…. Every policy maker, politician, educator, civic and religious leader should heed his advice. Change at the magnitude needed to save the planet requires a global realignment in how we think. Fortunately, Rifkin has provided us with a detailed roadmap.”
– Ken Burns, Documentary Filmmaker
“In his new book The Age of Resilience, economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin breaks ranks with the conventional economic wisdom that encourages unlimited economic development on a planet with finite natural resources. He suggests that we need to think of ‘nature as our classroom’ and reimagine every aspect of our existence – our concepts of time and space, economic life, governance, and even our notions of selfhood – so that life might flourish once again on Earth. This book invites us to engage in a radically new conversation about our species’ future. It’s long overdue.”
– Jane Goodall, Primatologist
“The Age of Resilience calls for the great turnaround from adapting nature to our species to adapting our species back to nature. This requires, as Jeremy Rifkin suggests,” a wholesale rethinking of our worldview.” Among the most significant challenges will be our educational system that will need to be reimagined and reinvented to proffer new pedagogical approaches to learning, if we are to make the transformation from the Age of Progress to the Age of Resilience.
Given Rifkin’s amazing track record of envisioning the future, no one can ignore the message of this new book. The Age of Resilience is truly an awe-inspiring treatise that must be read, comprehended, and most importantly acted upon.”
– Jerry Wind, Professor Emeritus, The Wharton School; Founder of Wharton Executive MBA Program
PAST PRAISE FOR JEREMY RIFKIN
“Perhaps no other author or thinker has had more influence on the EU’s ambitious climate and energy policy than the famous American ‘visionary’ Jeremy Rifkin.” —The European Energy Review
“Jeremy Rifkin is an American economist and author whose best-selling Third Industrial Revolution arguably provided the blueprint for Germany’s transition to a low-carbon economy, and China’s strategic acceptance of climate policy.” – EurActiv
“Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has not only read Jeremy Rifkin’s book, The Third Industrial Revolution, and taken it to heart. He and his colleagues have also made it the core of the country’s thirteenth Five-Year Plan… this blueprint for China’s future signals the most momentous shift in direction since the death of Mao and the advent of Deng Xiaoping’s reform and opening up in 1978.” —The Huffington Post (Beijing)
“A thought provoking read… [in The Zero Marginal Cost Society,] Rifkin brings home the extent of the technologically induced upheaval that may lie ahead. How we deal with the consequences is up to us. A grand unifying theory of Rifkin’s thinking over four decades.” —The Financial Times
“Admirable in its scope…what makes The Zero Marginal Cost Society worth reading is its audacity, its willingness to weave a vast string of developments into a heartening narrative of what our economic future may hold for the generations to come.” – Fortune
“[In The Third Industrial Revolution] Jeremy Rifkin argues that green energy and the Internet will revolutionize society and the environment… with the European Union already on board, this is a big idea with backbone.” —Nature