What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

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.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

Dams be Damned, Small-Scale Pumps Better for Rural Farmers

September 24, 2012, 6:25 PM

What’s the Latest Development?

Throughout the world, farmers are looking for reliable ways to water their crops. Despite the number of large, government run water projects involving dams and pulling water from rivers, many farmers throughout Africa and Asia are turning towards small-scale solutions such as individual water pumps. The pumps range in cost from about 100 to 200 dollars and are relatively easy to find locally and set-up. Other farmers in India are storing water in ponds from monsoon season to irrigate their land.

What’s the Big Idea?

The biggest problem with large scale irrigation solutions is efficiency. According to a report from 2000 “a quarter of dam-fed irrigation schemes watered less than 35 percent of the land intended, cost over-runs were almost universal, and a quarter of the irrigated fields were waterlogged or poisoned by salt. Not surprisingly, farmers have increasingly been making their own arrangements for water.” These small-scale ventures allow farmers to increase their crop production but not without some cost. Because these farmers are not experts in water conservation, many are pumping as much water as they can, which is dropping water tables to dangerously low levels. Colin Chartres, director of the International Water Management Institute, is still optimistic about the pumps. “Encouraging the local manufacture of pumps, and supporting local water entrepreneurs…should be coupled with an effort to map water reserves and prevent farmers from taking too much when supplies are tight.”

Photo Credit: Hagit Berkovich/Shutterstock.com



Dams be Damned, Small-Scale...

Newsletter: Share: