WASHINGTON — Bill Nye “the Science Guy,” CEO of The Planetary Society, told PJM that climate change skeptics should stop “whining” about what other countries are or are not doing to lower carbon emissions and let the U.S. take the lead on the issue.
Nye was asked for his response to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) argument that China is building more coal-fired plants and has no plans to drastically cut emissions. Inhofe told PJM that climate change is a “Hollywood problem” and reducing emissions in the U.S. would not impact global temperatures.
“I say to everybody, would you want to live in Beijing right now? No. The air quality is so low. People are suffering — asthma is an easy one because it’s sort of understandable — but the long-term problems of acid rain and the destruction of the environment is going to catch up with them — the people who live there — and they’re not going to stand for it,” Nye said during an interview at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
“In Iowa, they get 25 percent of their electricity from the wind. In Texas, an oil state, 10 percent of the energy comes from the wind. What if we were exporting that technology instead of trying to stop it all, instead of whining about what other people are doing? What if we were leading?”
Nye was asked if it is the government’s role to prop up one form of energy over another as a way to move America away from fossil fuels. In response, he said the federal government should not let the free market decide when the country has to switch to alternate forms of energy.
“So if we had the free market — look out, my friend. Is it a subsidy to have a standing army on the other side of the world to protect oil fields so we can get the kind of oil that goes into our gas tanks? We’re running out of it here — that Algerian crude oil is not available in the United States anymore. Is that a subsidy? The fossil fuel industry has been subsidized to an extraordinary degree. I mean, I grew up with it. Hey, I used to work in the oil field,” Nye said.
“I used to wash my coveralls in the grease machines at the laundromat. It is not what you want. It’s dirty. It makes a mess, and now the world is getting warmer. This is a huge opportunity for U.S. entrepreneurs. If we were to let gasoline cost what it costs in the rest of the civilized world in Japan, in Britain, in France — people would pay almost $10 per hour and they still drive. If it were $10 per gallon here, how would people, if you let the free market go on – whoa, whoa, whoa,” he added.
According to Inhofe, the East Anglia University Climatic Research Unit’s 2009 email controversy known as Climategate should have ended the global warming debate. Nye disagrees with that assessment.
“It’s evidence that people really want to find evidence. They took literally phrases out of context. One mathematician writes to the other, ‘oh, that’s a good trick for doing this analysis’ and then using the word trick in a collegial way — people took that word and pretended that it was a conspiracy…conspiracy theories are lazy,” Nye said.
“There’s 7 billion people burning fossil fuels, trying to live in the way we live here in the developed world, and the atmosphere is this thin and that’s why we are having the world warm faster than ever in history.”
Nye had a direct message for Inhofe.
“You’re presenting information with distorted timescales. If you look at 11 years, that’s too short. If you look at the graph that [meteorologist] Joe Bastardi published at 4.6 billion — it had references to the tertiary, which is no longer used in geology, and so when you look at four and a half billion years you don’t see it. When you look at fewer than 100 years, you don’t see it. So you are fooling yourselves and you are fooling your audiences,” he said.