CNN Anchor Tells Bill Nye He's Losing to Conservatives 'Politicizing' the Climate

CNN's Carol Costello told guest Bill Nye "The Science Guy" on Monday that climate change skeptics are "politicizing this issue" and "winning." Of course, the two did not admit to the possibility of man-made climate change believers doing the exact same thing.

"But the people who are politicizing this issue, they seem to be winning because not much is being done on the issue of climate change even though President Obama promised that, you know, back in the day, 2008," Costello said.

For his part, Nye continued to scoff at climate change skeptics as he claimed that "the two sides aren't equal here" and that "tens of thousands of scientists" are concerned for the environment versus only "a few people" who are skeptics.

Nye also indirectly plugged for President Obama. "By the way, if you're a voter, consider taking the -- the environment into account as well as the economy. Consider including the environment," he pleaded.

"I think the two candidates running for president right now have very different views about the validity, for example, of science and the importance of it and what you would do about climate change in the coming years."

Costello issued another liberal lament when she asked "What will it take for America to be on the same page?" Nye replied that scientists "chip away at this problem all the time." Apparently on CNN, the conservatives need to be be won over on the issue, it will just take facts and time.

Costello did begin the interview by challenging Nye's credentials on the matter, since he is not a climatologist. "Let's talk about the political aspect of this, because if you google your name Bill Nye, you're the kooky guy who doesn't know what he's talking about. I mean, you're not a climatologist. You want to defend yourself?" she asked in a rather hostile opening question.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on July 2 on Newsroom at 10:15 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

CAROL COSTELLO: We want to talk more about the weather. It, like everything else, has become incredibly politicized. That's right, we're going to talk about climate change. In today's Washington Post, there's a study conducted by EchoSphere, a peer-reviewed journal of ecologists. It projected most of North America will witness a jump in the frequency of wildfires by the end of the century, mostly because of increasing temperatures.

But this study was done by ecologists, scientists, and will likely be looked at skeptically. Bill Nye, "The Science Guy," is here to explain the science behind our weather extremes. Good morning.

BILL NYE, "The Science Guy": Good morning.

COSTELLO: Let's talk about the political aspect of this, because if you google your name Bill Nye, you're the kooky guy who doesn't know what he's talking about. I mean, you're not a climatologist. You want to defend yourself?

NYE: Sure. I can read graphs. And this – there's a couple of things you can't really dispute. 16 of the last 17 years have been the hottest years on record. That's – that's just how it is. Now I appreciate that we want to show two sides of the story, and this is a tradition in journalism that goes back quite a ways, I guess. But the two sides aren't equal here. You have tens of thousands of scientists who are very concerned and you have a few people who are in the business of equating – or drawing attention to the idea that uncertainty is the same as doubt. When you have a plus or a minus percentage, that's not the same as not believing the whole thing at all. And by the way everybody, we have record high temperatures. We have enormous fires in Colorado. We had tornadoes in Michigan and Brooklyn. We had a 30-degree temperature drop in Maryland and Virginia this weekend, in just – in a half-hour. These are consistent with climate models –  

(Crosstalk)

COSTELLO: Well let me ask you this – let me ask you this. Because out west, there are experts who say part of the problem with these wildfires is that it's mismanagement of our forests, there hasn't been forests cleared of brush, for example, and that's why these wildfires have really spread so quickly. Not necessarily because of the heat.

NYE: Well, I've got to disagree. It is because of the heat ultimately. Just two years ago it was wet in Colorado, and there was a lot of growth in forests, and then you can say, well, responsibly you should have cleared that growth. It's a difficult thing, so then two years later when it's especially dry and the forest floor gets especially dry and then there's a lightning strike, the fire is that much more intense than it would have been.

Now, since this -- you brought it up as politics, to us it's science, this is a deep concern, and wouldn't you want the United States, I grew up here, I don't know any better. Wouldn't you want the United States to be the world leader in addressing climate change and innovating and energy distribution and storage? Wouldn't you want that?

COSTELLO: But the people who are politicizing this issue, they seem to be winning because not much is being done on the issue of climate change even though President Obama promised that, you know, back in the day, 2008.

NYE: Well, I think you're going to have to wait. I mean, I'm not – I think you're going to have to wait until after the election. By the way, if you're a voter, consider taking the -- the environment into account as well as the economy. Consider including the environment. I think the two candidates running for president right now have very different views about the validity, for example, of science and the importance of it and what you would do about climate change in the coming years.

You know, other countries are addressing climate change, but the United States is the world's largest economy, and by long tradition, whether it's an iPhone or methods of growing food to feed a lot of people, the United States has been the world leader in this sort of innovative technology.

COSTELLO: So what will it take --

NYE: Do you want to keep that up or not?

COSTELLO: What will it take for America to be on the same page? I mean, what will it take?

NYE: Well, we in the science education community chip away at this problem all the time. We have an enormous population of people in the United States who don't believe in evolution, the fundamental idea in all of life science. It would like saying I don't believe in earthquakes or something. I mean, the analogies are disturbing, but, in other words, science is a process, and we -- we want everybody to understand it. And then include science in the way you do your thinking about how you're going to vote and how you're going to conduct your life, so you -- you can attack me – people can attack me personally, but it is -- this is the, as I say, 16 warmest years on record over the last 17.

1996 was not one of the warmest because there was a big El Nino, but that aside everybody I think has a sense that the world – in the United States anyway, the world is getting warmer. The storms are being – are stronger than ever, and our ability to respond to them is not especially good to combine all of these ideas.

COSTELLO: Bill Nye --

NYE: And so the wildfires in Colorado are probably another symptom of the subtle slow change that's happening around the world.

COSTELLO: You threw that "probably" word in which is why people are confused.

NYE: What are you going to do? You can't prove every weather event, but sooner or later everybody,  let's change the world. Let's work together and make life for future generations as good as it was, for example, mine. Really, everybody.

COSTELLO: Thank you.

NYE: "Probably" doesn't mean it's all wrong, really. Good morning.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014