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
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: Are we at a tipping point?

Carl Pope: Well it’s pretty clear, I think, that the big one we’ve all gotta wrestle with right away, really quickly is global warming, climate, fossil fuels, our energy economy. That simply has to be job number one because we’re close to a tipping point. I was just in Greenland and you can see the ice sheets collapsing. That’s scary. So that’s job number one. The second thing that we need to do almost as quickly is we have to learn to live more lightly, because there are six billion of us. One of the things that we’re dealing with now – never been true before in human history – not only are there 6.5 billion people on the planet. More than half of them live in societies that have mastered the trick of sustained economic growth. Now in one way that’s a very good thing. We actually have the opportunity. We now have the social . . . the social knowledge to solve human problems. But we don’t have the natural resource base to solve human poverty with 20th century technologies. We’ve got to develop a lighter set of technologies that allow natural systems to function around and with us. We can’t just say oh, nature’s something that’s out there. We have to be in the middle of nature. To give you an example, in California we’re about to have the long water war. All during the 20th century Californians had a series of battles about how to allocate water. And these battles were premised on three things. There’s a certain amount of water that falls on the mountains in the winter. It sits there as snow and melts in the spring. And then farmers, environmentalists and cities fights about who gets it. That’s a California water war. We’re about to have another one. There’s only one problem. There may . . . There may be a certain amount of water that still falls on mountains in the winter, but it’s not gonna get stored as snow. It’s all gonna run off. We can’t store it in reservoirs. There’s not nearly enough reservoir space or even potential . . . There aren’t enough big valleys left to store all the snow that currently sits on the Sierra Nevada all winter. Totally impossible. So if we wanna have that water when we need it in the summer, we have to store it somewhere else. There’s only one place to store it – underground in soils. And right now Californians don’t think of their soils as the place where they store their water. We don’t think about it right. We’re gonna have to learn how to reengineer Los Angeles so that it becomes, in effect, a sponge. Instead of being a roof which water runs off of, it needs to be a sponge which water soaks into. And we’re gonna have to learn to live, and drive our cars, and have our buildings in the middle of actually a wetland. That’s a different kind of challenge ___________.

 

Recorded on: September 27, 2007.

 

Climate Change: Are we at a...

Newsletter: Share: