Remembering (or Forgetting) Copenhagen

Three months after the Copenhagen Climate Conference’s failure to reach a legally binding global emissions-reduction deal, there hasn’t been much talk of what the next step will be. But the Europeans, for whom Copenhagen was the ultimate disappointment, are now trying to get back on track – with or without the rest of the world.

EU climate chief Connie Hedegaard addressed the European Parliament this week and urged the bloc to up the ante on their emissions-cutting goals, which have been set at 30 percent, contingent upon a similar commitment by other world powers. Hedegaard and a group EU states, primarily the UK, are ready to go forth alone and stop waiting around for other countries to make unlikely promises. If you want a job done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.


If the EU goes ahead with a pledge to cut emissions by 30 percent as opposed to 20, the bloc symbolically forgoes its faith in global climate change solidarity in favor of pragmatism and personal responsibility.

And it looks like Hedegaard wants that type of pragmatic game plan in the months leading up to December’s climate conference in Mexico. 'It's not going to be easy," she said. "Nobody should be naive." For the first time publicly, she and the European Commission have admitted that a strong global agreement is not likely to pan out this year –international emissions-reduction targets will be made at climate talks in South Africa next year at the earliest.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

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  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
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Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Trauma in childhood leads to empathy in adulthood

It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Mind & Brain

  • A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
  • The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
  • The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
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Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

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