Like a sad father, Bill Nye wasn’t mad that he was forced to debate climate change on CNN; he was disappointed that CNN had presumably pitted him against a climate change denier to create drama instead of spreading factual information.
“I will say, much as I love the CNN, you’re doing a disservice by having one climate change skeptic and not 97 or 98 scientists or engineers concerned about climate change,” he said during a segment on the April 22 March for Science that aired Saturday night.
Nye was part of a five-person split screen along with CNN anchors Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul; May Boeve, the executive director of 350.org; and William Happer, a physicist and climate change denier with ties to President Donald Trump. During the segment, Happer said he doesn’t think “science has anything to fear from Mr. Trump,” and talked about the “myth” of carbon dioxide being harmful, emphasizing that it’s perfectly “natural.”
Nye pointed out that Happer was obfuscating a crucial component amid his facts: that human behavior is contributing to a higher rate of carbon dioxide emissions in Earth’s atmosphere than there used to be, and that carbon emissions are a known factor of climate change.
“What he claims to not understand is the rate. It’s the speed at which we’re adding carbon dioxide [to the atmosphere],” Nye said, explaining that it’s not the existence of carbon dioxide that’s bad, but rather the rate at which humans are producing it. “What you’ve got to get is the speed at which things are changing.”
But Nye’s initial statement was about CNN’s responsibility as a news organization. As my colleague Carlos Maza recently pointed out, CNN treats its political news like a sport or theater. The network maximizes the drama by creating confrontations — one of the anchors in this segment asked Nye for his “reaction” — and in doing so, it gives false credibility to unfounded arguments and provides a platform for misinformation to spread.
What’s even more disconcerting is that, according to Media Matters, Sunday’s news shows didn’t cover the March for Science protests even though tens of thousands of people showed up to march. CNN’s panel with Nye was a somewhat rare example of mainstream media coverage of the protests, though the network was arguably more concerned with sparking a fight than discussing the purpose of the march.
Here’s what social networks say about this:
Margaret Baker I love how calm and non-dramatic Bill Nye is in his response. It’s especially impressive given how idiotic the other guy is. May Boeve was good too.
Daniel Grim “…The network maximizes the drama by creating confrontations — one of the anchors in this segment asked Nye for his “reaction” — and in doing so, it gives false credibility to unfounded arguments and provides a platform for misinformation to spread.”
Luke Sisson What a weird headline since he only mentions it once for like ten seconds. The real bombshell is how that dude compared the Paris agreements to Neville Chamberlain appeasing the Nazis!
Niall Macaulay CNN and all the other mainstream news outlets in the US are absolutely PATHETIC when it comes to reporting on actual facts of science. They should be broadcasting a one hour science programme at peak time every single day until the US population starts to exhibit signs of catching up with reality.
Kelsey Manzolillo Hornicek Thank you Bill Nye!!!! To present climate change as a debate is damaging to the forward progression, there is no debate. Additionally, if 200 nations have agreed to move forward, what sense does it make to remove the US from the forefront of developing new technology and economic growth? You want job creation? Look at the future of the job market and wake up.