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

1

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

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

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
Close

Hurricane Sandy: Mother Nature's Revenge on the 2012 Election?

October 25, 2012, 5:36 PM
Sandy1_wide-9d975591a9bec47f0989e4cee7294c53fa4352ce-s6-c10

Just as there were many countries -- India, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, to name a few -- not mentioned in the "foreign policy" presidential debate last week, perhaps the greatest challenge facing the world -- climate change -- was another unmentionable topic, receiving lip service not once in all three presidential debates. Mother Nature might get the last laugh, however, via Hurricane Sandy.

One forecast model shows Sandy hitting the east coast as a tropical storm some time around Halloween, and could be a repeat of the famous "perfect storm" of 1991. While it is still too early to know the precise scenario, Politico suggested the storm could serve as a climate change wake-up call.  

Sandy could either wreak havoc on the East Coast or go out to sea.

Climate change has and will continue to affect the frequency, intensity, timing and distribution of hurricanes and tropical storms. We have known the ecological effects for a long time. The financial cost estimates are all over the place, ranging between $4 billion and $109 billion annually. Some argue the true cost could easily reach $300 billion by 2030. If that doesn't scare you enough, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) projected an annual $1.9 trillion price tag (in 2006 dollars) by 2100. 

So you might be wondering why, again, climate change wasn't addressed during any of the presidential debates. For one thing, both candidates were loathe to bring it up, choosing instead to outdo each other by blowing kisses to the coal industry. Indeed, it seems the electoral college was the best thing that ever happened to the coal industry, as coal-producing states like Ohio have an outsize influence on the outcome of the election. That is the same electoral logic that gave us three decades of corn ethanol subsidies.

Will the coal industry be able to hold out that long or will circumstances intervene? Multi-billion dollar weather disasters are the kind of intervention that might move minds on this issue, and we have been experiencing those in abundance. That is why 7 in 10 Americans are now convinced global warming is real and 35 percent say extreme weather has affected them personally. 

As Andrew Steer pointed out in The New York Times, by failing to address climate change the presidential candidates are "massively out of step with the rest of the world, but also with the citizens of this country."

So what will it mean if Sandy indeed turns into a "perfect storm"? A perfect storm is defined as the combination of a rare set of circumstances that result in a storm with an unusually high level of magnitude. If Sandy actually gets the candidates to talk about climate change, that would be a perfect storm indeed. 

In the video below, James Lawrence Powell, author of The Inquisition of Climate Science, argues it is the responsibility of scientists to bring the issue of climate change to the forefront for the sake of future generations.

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

 

Hurricane Sandy: Mother Nat...

Newsletter: Share: