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: How do we kick our addiction to oil?

Jim Woolsey: Detroit doesn’t produce oil.  (Laughter)  And the United States produces some oil certainly.  And we’re going to need oil for a long time.  But if we can get to a lot less oil than we have now, we can do something very important. I’ll give you one example.  Eddie … of the … a think tank in Washington that promotes working on energy for national security purposes, says that up until the late 19th, early 20th century, salt was a strategic commodity.  There was no other way to preserve meat.   Preserving meat was hugely important for the human diet, a huge share of the human food chain.  So people who had salt mines, and countries that had salt mines were really important.  Believe it or not countries fought wars over salt.  That changed with refrigeration.  Now we still use salt.  Probably we still use it some to preserve meat, but mainly we use it for flavoring in one thing or another.  Unless you were intimately familiar with Morton’s, you probably have no idea where it comes from.  You don’t care.  It’s bought and sold on a market.  It’s a commodity like a lot of other commodities.  But nobody is going to order you around because he’s got salt and you don’t.  Well we need to do that to oil.  We need to destroy not oil, but we need to destroy it as a strategic commodity so we don’t need it for transportation.  There are real competitors, and the competitor’s electricity, alternatives fuels, together in some combination can get the job done.  At that point oil becomes like lots of other commodities.  And by the way, it becomes much more operative in a free market.  Because what you have now is not a free market.  OPEC runs it – a cartel – and they are able to run it with Saudi Arabia leading it because it’s a strategic commodity and there’s no other way for most people, in most structures in the world, to propel their vehicles around except with petroleum derived fuels.  If we can end that so there are some competitors that are close to oils cost like cellulosic ethanol, and others like electricity that are much cheaper, people are still going to want oil.  It depends on how cheap it is whether they use oil or natural oil in the chemical plant, etc.  Fine.  We don’t want to destroy oil.  We want to do to it what refrigeration did to salt.

 

How do we kick our addictio...

Newsletter: Share: