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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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An Inconvenient Truth: Clean Coal Will Save Us From Ecological Ruin

May 20, 2014, 12:54 PM

What's the Latest?

Coal is not just a backward energy source that will go the way of chimney sweeps. Coal is essential for creating steel, cement, and agricultural fertilizer, i.e. the pillars of modern society. And most countries rely on it more, not less, each year: "Germany...not only gets more than half its power from coal but opened more coal-fired power plants in 2013 than in any year in the past two decades. In neighboring Poland, 86 percent of the electricity is generated from coal. South Africa, Israel, Australia, Indonesia—all are ever more dependent on coal." The exception is the US, where natural gas has proven an economically competitive alternative.

What's the Big Idea?

In China, coal is essential to creating the modern society its citizenry demands. Coal also poisons its skies and releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Enter carbon capture and storage, or CCS, representing the world's best chance to survive this century while maintaining consistent energy availability (to run schools, government offices, hospitals, and the like). Most energy experts agree that it will be another 100 years before the Earth can live off renewable energy. In the mean time, if all world's coal were used, temperatures could rise by 44 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read more at Wired


An Inconvenient Truth: Clea...

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