Thank God for Bill Nye

If you’ve been watching YouTube trends over the past few weeks (me? procrastinate? never!) you may have noticed a familiar face. BILL NYE! Yes, the nerdy and lovable bowtie-wearing science geek has been everywhere from The O’Reilly Factor to the Rachel Maddow Show and, not surprisingly, has emerged as the voice of reason against an increasingly indignant body of climate change skeptics. If you don’t remember him, here’s the old theme song to refresh your memory.

Recently, Bill has been the go-to guy for news networks in need of someone to defend the view that humans activity is causing climate change. Most recently, he was on Fox News debating the topic with a meteorologist named Joe Bastardi (what an unfortunate name). Here’s the dispute:

No offense to meteorologists, who do a wonderful job of telling me just how screwed I am when I arrive at the airport to see a foot and a half of snow on the ground. But put up against a career science educator, the discussion is comical. The ‘climate change guy’ has spent his entire life explaining abstract scientific ideas (most of which are difficult to observe and measure) to a demographic with little or no background in science. He has a BS from Cornell in Mechanical Engineering and three honorary PhDs, and along with making cheeky science videos on PBS, he found time to invent a “hydraulic pressure resonance suppressor” that is still being used on Boeing 747s (can anyone translate that into humanities-speak?).

The skeptic? Oh, he’s known for being a bad weather forecaster. To be fair, Bastardi has a BS in Meteorology from Penn State. But I don’t know if that makes you expert enough to discredit the 20-year-long record of scientific work done by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Bastardi’s arguments are terrifying. He ends the piece by discounting long-term planning, asking, “What are we worried about right now?!” Bill, in perfect form, responds:

The world is getting warmer. Carbon dioxide is a very strong greenhouse gas. It has a very long residence time in the atmosphere. It is making the world warmer, along with methane and other human activities. In whose best interest is it to deny this stuff?

This isn’t the only time Bill’s gotten feisty. On Rachel Maddow, he called climate change skeptics “anti-patriotic.” This kind of language is desperately needed in reframing the debate over what to do about climate change. Now, I’m not advocating for intellectual despotism – if a respected scientific organization offers a legitimate, peer-reviewed study that says that we have nothing to fear from climate change, I’ll probably have to shut up. The fact is that (even after accounting for the, frankly, idiotic choices of the ‘ClimateGate’ scholars), the vast majority of scientific findings indicate that we are damaging our environment at a horrifying rate.

If we really want to get past the obstructions of the climate change skeptics who want to maintain the status, we need more people like Bill Nye who have the courage (and the pure intelligence) to reframe debate. You go, Bill Nye, the Science Guy. I’m glad you’re back.