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

The World Economic Forum's Call to Action on Global Warming

January 22, 2013, 12:00 AM

What's the Big Idea?

It costs more to treat sick people than it does to prevent people from getting sick in the first place. And so it is with global warming. It is cheaper to stave off the effects of catastrophic climate change than it is to pay the tab for natural disasters as they occur.

Consider two numbers. 

$50 billion

$36 billion

According to a report issued in advance of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, we must spend $700 billion annually to wane ourselves off fossil fuels that have been linked to a rise in extreme weather-related disasters in recent years. "This investment is needed for clean energy infrastructure, low-carbon transport, energy efficiency and forestry to limit the global average temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels," according to the report's executive summary.

The lion's share of the $700 billion must come from private finance, the Forum's report states. However, public investments are required to spur the green growth transition. Specifically, the report states that a $36 billion increase in annual public spending on green infrastructure (the figure is currently $90 billion) is necessary to attract the $570 billion needed from private investors. 

What's the Significance?

While public resources are limited, let's put these figures in perspective: $50 billion was the amount the U.S. Congress recently voted to allocate to pay for the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. It will cost far less than that to jumpstart private investment in renewable energy, argues the report, which was produced by the Green Growth Action Alliance, headed by Felipe Calderón, the former president of Mexico. 

Why is public spending necessary at all? Shouldn't we rely on market forces to close the "green investment gap"? The Forum's report argues that renewable energies are currently not on a level playing field with fossil-based energy, which has the advantage of existing subsidies and infrastructure. The smart use of public finance, however, can act as a catalyst to mobilize private investment and meet the climate change challenge. 

You can read the full report here.  

As global leaders prepare to meet in Davos, a packed agenda awaits them. A core question is how sustainable economic growth can be restored "in today's volatile, interconnected world." This question looms large for this elite brain trust considering that it misread the writing on the wall prior to the financial crisis in 2007. 

In the video below, Kevin SteinbergChief Operating Officer of the World Economic Forum USA, reflects on that legacy.  

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan


The World Economic Forum's ...

Newsletter: Share: