In this contribution some recent investigations of two- dimensional thermal convection relevant to ordinary fluids as well as magnetized plasmas are reviewed. An introductory discussion is given of the physical mechanism for baroclinic vorticity generation and convective motions in stratified fluids, emphasizing its relation to interchange motions of non- uniformly magnetized plasmas. This is followed by a review of the theories for the onset of convection and quasi-linear saturation in driven-dissipative systems. Non-linear numerical simulations which result in stationary convective states reveal the process of laminar scalar gradient expulsion, leading to the formation of temperature plumes and vorticity sheets. These dissipative structures are demonstrated to result in temperature profile consistency and power law transport scaling far from the threshold. The last part of this paper deals with the generation of differential rotation by fluctuating motions through tilting of the convective structures. The role of kinetic energy transfer and shearing due to differential advection is pointed out. Numerical simulations for strongly driven systems reveal turbulent states with a bursty behaviour of the fluctuation level which is associated with relaxation oscillations in the kinetic energy of the azimuthally mean flows. This leads to a state of large-scale intermittency manifested by exponential tails in the single-point probability distribution function of the dependent variables. The global bursting is interpreted in terms of a predator-prey regulation from the point of view of energetics. Finally, a discussion is given of the relevance of these phenomena to a variety of magnetized plasma experiments.