On Climate, Tucker Carlson Teaches Bill Nye How To Be So Open-Minded Your Brain Falls Out. Your Open Thread!
Oleaginous Fox News host Tucker Carlson invited popular science guy Bill Nye onto his program Monday to Just Ask some Questions about climate change, and to give Nye the chance to respond to Carlson's claim that Nye had called for climate change deniers to either be put in jail or a mental institution. Not that Nye actually said either of those things, of course -- he did say that if it were proven Exxon executives had suppressed climate research, then they might be subject to criminal investigation like "people from the cigarette industry who insisted that this addictive product was not addictive" (and who never actually went to jail but whose industry paid a huge fine, so Nye has his legal history wrong there), but he's not in favor of jailing your crazy rightwing uncle in prison for emailing you about sunspots and volcanoes being the real climate culprits. Similarly, while he recently said rightwing climate deniers suffer from "cognitive dissonance" because their ideology overrides their ability to accept science, he wasn't calling for anyone to be forcibly medicated.
So yes, Tucker Carlson simply wants some honest dialogue, like how can scientists agree human activity has caused global warming when they can't even quantify the "degree" to which carbon emissions have caused the planet to get warmer, huh? It's a pretty frustrating video to watch, since Carlson is far better at asking loaded questions than Nye is at handling them. For instance, when Carlson insists the only way to be a real "skeptic" -- and hence a good scientist -- is to question absolutely everything, Nye misses the chance to point out that some questions really are settled, like the speed of light or the existence of atoms or gravity. And that the scientific certainty for the effects of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is just as high.
Nye also baited Carlson right back, suggesting that since the "evidence for climate change is overwhelming" but rightwingers still deny it, then maybe research is really needed on "why you guys are having so much trouble with this." It's a fun shot, but not all that helpful, really.
Nye does better when Carlson keeps pressing him on the "degree" to which humans are affecting the climate, to which Nye replies, once he can get a word in edgewise, that the real concern is
the speed that climate change is happening is caused by humans. Instead of happening on time scales of millions of years, or let’s say, 15,000 years, it’s happening on a time scale of decades. And now years.
Again, Nye might benefit from a forum that wasn't a yellyshouty Fox program, where he could carefully explain, in answer to Carlson's asking what the climate would be like were it not for humans pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, why we'd probably have a climate a lot like that of the pre-industrial era. Instead, he pointed out, correctly, that England is now warm enough to grow grapes for wine, while French winemakers are moving their vineyards to higher elevations and more northern lattitudes. It's a good detail, but Carlson happily throws it out with a dismissive "you can't know that!"
One thing Nye does know for sure, holding up his cell phone to show Carlson, is that “This is how long it takes you to interrupt me. It takes you quite a bit less than six seconds.”
Carlson, the smart guy who knows we can't know anything -- yet still trusts aerodynamics enough to go aboard airplanes that could fall out of the sky at any moment, because who knows how airflow and lift even work? -- insists to Nye that he's doing a "great disservice to science" by trying to prevent people from "having an honest conversation" about climate -- even though Carlson's questions are as loaded and dishonest as they come. On the question of what the climate would be like today without 250 years of human industrial activity, Carlson sputters, "You don't actually know, because it's unknowable! Why aren't you open to questions?" It must be interesting to go through life not being sure the laws of physics will actually continue working from one moment to the next. Carlson then says he doesn't doubt that grape stuff might be true, then immediately discards it:
So much of this you don’t know. You pretend that you know, but you don’t know, and you bully people who ask you questions. I’m open-minded, you are not. And we're out of time.
Nye replied with a nonsequitur of his own about why there are so many leaks coming from the White House. Then it was all over, and nobody had learned anything, because arguing loudly on television even makes people who are right seem stupid, and Fox viewers shook their heads sadly at the liberal science bully who just called them crazy but won't even answer simple questions.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.