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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.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

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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Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

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Black Carbon

December 15, 2009, 5:43 AM
“Black carbon, the soot emitted when fuels like diesel, wood and coal are burned, may have a bigger impact on climate in some areas than greenhouse gases. New research presented here at the American Geophysical Union meeting shows that the 20 percent decrease in the extent of Himalayan glaciers since the 1960s may be partly due to an influx of black carbon from Asian cities. Using satellite data and computer models, NASA atmospheric scientist William Lau and colleagues put together this animation of Earth’s atmospheric concentration of black carbon from August to November. The time of fastest glacial melting on the western Tibetan Plateau coincides with the highest concentration of black carbon in the area, Lau reported. ‘Over areas of the Himalayas, the rate of warming is more than five times faster than warming globally,’ Lau said in a press release. ‘Based on the differences it’s not difficult to conclude that greenhouse gases are not the sole agents of change in this region. There’s a localized phenomenon at play.’”
 

Black Carbon

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