Commentary

Bill Nye, the Anti-Science Guy, Demeans Science – Hopes to Silence Climate ‘Deniers’

H. Sterling Burnett
By H. Sterling Burnett | November 12, 2015 | 12:07 PM EST

Bill Nye, the "science" guy. (AP Photo/John Davisson)

In an interview in Salon touting his new book Unstoppable, which should be filed in the fiction category at your local library, the title of the interview proclaims, “Bill Nye demolishes climate deniers.” After reading the article, I was left asking: Who are these deniers, and where does this demolishing take place?

Salon and Nye have evidently taken a page from the climate dogmatists’ playbook and decided to label any climate realists with the derogatory term “deniers,” linking them to holocaust deniers, an offensive smear the Associated Press requires its writers to avoid. For Nye, a climate denier is anyone who rejects all or part of the claim, “Humans, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels for energy resulting in and the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, are causing potentially catastrophic climate change, which governments must act now to prevent by restricting fossil fuel use.”

With all due respect to Nye—and I think he’s due very little respect—thousands of researchers, scientists and educated persons around the globe reject some or all of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory.

Nye, who uses an engaging, folksy way of speaking, transformed a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering into a well-paying gig as a comedy sketch writer and then as a television science spokesman. Nothing in Nye’s background—neither his education nor his entertainment career using humor to teach simple science topics to youths while wearing a lab coat and calling himself the “science guy”—makes him a climate expert.

For Nye, the main stumbling block to significant action in fighting climate change is people debating the causes and consequences of the phenomenon. According to Nye, the time for debate is over. “We know exactly why the climate is changing—it’s human activity!” he said.

Nye proposes a surefire shortcut to motivate individuals and government to fight climate change: refuse all scientific discussion of the matter. “[Get] the deniers out of our discourse,” Nye said. “You know, we can’t have these people—they’re absolutely toxic. And so part of the message in this book is to get the deniers out of the picture.”

Nye is the real denier here. He denies the simple fact credible, peer-reviewed, published, award-winning climate researchers are producing evidence every day calling into question the extent of humankind’s role in climate change. These prominent “deniers” rightly question whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant … or a valuable, naturally occurring gas that is vital to plant growth. They also question whether a modest warming, if it should occur, would be beneficial rather than harmful to humanity and the environment.

I’ll take the word of award-winning physicists, climatologists, and meteorologists, including Richard Lindzen, Ph.D., William Gray, Ph.D., S. Fred Singer, Ph.D., Pat Michaels, Ph.D., David Legates, Ph.D., Willie Soon, Ph.D., Judith Curry, Ph.D., Bob Balling, Ph.D., Freeman Dyson, Ph.D., William Happer, Ph.D., Robert Carter, Ph.D., and any of the hundreds of other credible scientists in the United States and abroad I could name who are skeptical of one or more aspects of the AGW meme over that of the former host of a children’s TV show.

Nye is one of those who tries to insert the idea of consensus—a political term having no legitimate place in the process of scientific exploration and discovery, as Albert Einstein noted decades ago —into science in order to silence those who disagree with him and to suppress the facts that disprove his ill-informed claims. Even worse, he ignores there is no consensus on the issue, even if consensus mattered in science.

For example, a recent study by the Netherlands Climate Assessment Agency (NCAA) demolishes the myth 97 percent of scientists agree with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) claim it is “extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.”

Just 797 respondents, only 43 percent of the 1,868 respondents, agreed with IPCC’s statement at the scientific core of AGW, and that statement doesn’t even include the all-important suggestion catastrophic global warming or climate change is imminent.

More important than experts on one side or another is the simple evidence recorded for all to see. At every turn, climate alarmists have been wrong and climate skeptics proven right. Climate models say global temperature should climb right along with the rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, yet temperatures fell while emissions rose from the 1940s through the 1970s. For the past two decades, CO2 emissions have continued to rise, but as global satellite data show, temperatures have been in a holding pattern for 18 years.

The climate models predicted more intense hurricanes, yet for nearly a decade the United States has experienced far fewer than the historic average number of hurricanes making landfall, and they have been no more powerful than previously experienced. Sea-level rise has slowed, polar bear numbers have increased, Antarctica is gaining ice, the Arctic is back to average ice levels for the decade, and crop production continues to set records year over year. Each of these points contradicts predictions made by IPCC and other climate alarmists.

I’ll put it in language a children’s television show host can understand: Climate model outputs and projections don’t count as scientific evidence any more than my 1960s-era plastic models of Dracula and the Wolf Man provide evidence real vampires or werewolves exist.

Bill Nye is not a climate expert; he’s just a guy who pretended to be a scientist on TV. Although television gives him a big megaphone, the scientific evidence drowns him out, for those who listen. That explains his eagerness to silence those who disagree with him.

H. Sterling Burnett (hsburnett@heartland.org) is a research fellow on energy and the environment at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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