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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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What The Climate Talks Are Forgetting

December 18, 2009, 12:41 AM

When James Hansen created one of the world’s first climate modelers—then termed "Model Zero"—thirty years ago, he sounded a novel and somewhat abrupt alarm. The world, he predicted, is getting warmer, a claim that would later be echoed by the bulk of the scientific community. Today, as his findings fuel one of the biggest debates in planetary history—“What to do about climate change?”—Dr. Hansen, currently of NASA and Columbia University, sits down with Big Think to discuss his latest and still graver conclusions: not only is the climate’s current rate of change unsustainable, but if we can’t dramatically curb emissions soon, Earth will become uninhabitable for the human race.

Years ago, when the climate debate was still called ‘global warming,’ climatologists believed that the world would be safe if CO2 emissions reached a maximum of 450 parts per million of the atmosphere. Today, that claim appears woefully optimistic, as 350 PPM has become the absolute minimum ratio for anything resembling a sustainable future. The problem? We’re already at 387 PPM, and are witnessing an unprecedented rate of global industrial development.

So, can the proposals on the table help alleviate this situation? Not in the least, says Hansen. If we want to truly confront global catastrophe we need to be having an entirely different conversation, one where legislation drafted by the polluters –i.e. the cap-and-trade bill—isn’t the only progressive option, and the need for a steadily increasing carbon tax that goes directly back to the public is finally acknowledged.



What The Climate Talks Are ...

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