Five questions for bill nye the science guy – willamette week gas utility bill


The other amazing thing is how fast the ecosystem has recovered. You know, 38 years is a long time, but it’s not that long. In a geologic sense, it’s nothing. It’s a blink of an eye. And yet, all these plants and animals have returned to the landscape. Have you heard about the insect rain? It’s this crazy thing. So you are a beetle, you’re a fly, you’re a mosquito—you’re somebody like this, and you’ve lived your life and now you’re dead. And the way the wind comes through the valley it blows all the insects up the slope. So then you get this source of nitrogen in the soil from the insect corpses that started these plants growing. They return nitrogen to the soil, they can thrive. And then all these scrub oak plants start growing and then animals come to eat the nuts, and then animals come to eat the animals who eat the nuts and so on. And it just happened surprisingly fast. You know when that thing first went off the devastation was so large it looked like humans had done it. It looked like humans had shown up to build a shopping mall or something. That’s how big the devastation was, but it was natural. The earth’s going to be here no matter what we do. We don’t want to save the earth for the earth’s sake. We want to save the earth for us.

In Portland, not so much, but yeah I run into climate change deniers—or contrarians—continually. So I say, "What makes you so sure that everyone in the world except you is wrong?" I offer guys like Joe Bastardi and Marc Morano—these are Fox News contrarians—I offered them each two $10,000 bets. I offered [meteorologist] Joe Bastardi $10,000 that 2016 would be among the top 10 hottest years in history. Then I offered him another bet—that 2010-2020 would be the hottest decade recorded. Neither one of those guys would take it, either bet. So I was willing to put $40,000 on the table, of my own coin. So you can speculate as to why they wouldn’t take the bet, but I think it has to do with they actually know what’s actually going on. They’re funded by the actual fossil fuel industry and they’ve sort of lost their way. And it’s the fossil fuel industry that’s caused the trouble. They’ve been very successful in introducing the idea that scientific uncertainty, plus or minus 2 percent, is the same as plus or minus 100 percent. And that’s wrong.

There are three things we want for everybody—clean water, renewable and reliable electricity, and access to the internet. This means establishing policies and regulations that enable those three things, which means investing in technology, investing in training and opportunities for people who feel they might have been excluded. We want to get everybody included so that we can have a better tomorrow for everyone. So take this for example—you can show that there’s enough solar and wind power in virtually every country on earth to run the whole place right now renewably if you just wanted to. There may be promise with nuclear power, but the political problems associated with it, especially in the US, are just frustrating and troubling. We’ll make it a goal to make renewable and reliable electricity. And then to provide internet to people, we are almost certainly going to need satellites. They’re called "space assets"—this means investments in space technologies. And people are doing it, people are spending money like crazy because everybody sees the value in it. So what we need are satellites with a low enough altitude where the communication time is quick. So the idea is that by providing internet service to everyone you can provide education to everyone. The big focus—the big, big, big, idea—is to raise the standard of living in girls and women. When girls and women are educated they have fewer kids and the kids they have are better educated, and they have more resources and they do better and everybody does better. So let’s go. Let’s get to work.