'Science Guy' Bill Nye gets heated up over climate change
Nov. 11, 2015
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bill Nye is discussing his new book on climate change from an apt location: behind the wheel of a Tesla.
While electrically navigating the streets of New York City, Nye offers a supercharged warning about the dangers ahead if the problem isn't tackled, and now.
Science has conclusively demonstrated a link between human activity and an overheated Earth, he says, dismissing the counter-arguments of doubters and deniers as "weird."
And it's with scientific innovation that we can rescue our home planet and ourselves, says Nye, who offers a detailed and chatty how-to in "Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World," out this week from St. Martin's Press.
"Unstoppable," which opens with a stern warning that climate change "is coming right at you," moves quickly to his advice to stop worrying — "or at least to move past it" — and get busy.
Nye has his work cut out for him: An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll in October found two out of three Americans accept global warming, with the vast majority of those citing human activities as at least part of the cause. But fewer than one in four Americans are extremely or very worried about it.
The bow-tie bedecked engineer, who gained fame on the 1990s TV series "Bill Nye, the Science Guy," spoke with the AP from the road last week.
Associated Press: Your book includes sweeping approaches to address climate change. What can individuals do that counts?
Nye: Not wasting any water bottles is good. Not leaving the lights on is good. Turning the thermostat down in the winter, up in the summer, is good. But the best thing any of us in the developed world, especially in the United States, can be doing is talking about it. ... It's strangely a hard thing to talk about because it's become so political and divisive, and people have a tendency to give up and see it as overwhelming. But I claim that it's not.
AP: You're truly optimistic?
Nye: The world's going to change climatically. We just want to control the change. We want to have a high quality of life for billions of people as we pass through this era.
AP: How do you see your role as a citizen-scientist?
Nye: It is my mission to change the world. I'm not kidding: Make no small plans, dream mighty things. I feel if we get enough people engaged in climate change, we will get enough people to change the world. We will revolutionize the way we produce electricity and provide clean water to people. And along with this ... is educating more women and girls. Because that is the surest route to controllably, manageably reducing the human population. Educated women have fewer kids. And the kids they do have are better cared for and are more successful. As I like to say, it's not one thing that we need to focus on. It's everything all at once.
AP: You said that politicians should heed millennial voters on climate change. Is that generation especially receptive to taking action?
Nye: Overwhelmingly. College kids are very concerned about this. Recently, I visited Alabama, Tennessee and Texas. What you find on these college campuses (is that) everybody is, if I can use my term, enlightened. And the state has politicians who have been in office for years and years, and the two groups are at odds on climate change. Millennial voters are very concerned about climate change and will vote for candidates who are planning to address it. But the systems that are in place — people talk about gerrymandering and the money that's in politics, this is a real thing, a real effect — and it's hard for climate change-denying legislators to get voted out. But I predict it will happen.
AP: You drew both praise and criticism for defending evolution against a proponent of creationism. Are you ready for the onslaught of reaction you may get to "Unstoppable"?
Nye: Bring it on. I feel strongly about my convictions here, and I feel this is the most serious problem facing humankind. And I want to fix it.
Lynn Elber is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. She can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber .