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Bill Nye Slams CNN For Putting Climate Change Skeptic On Earth Day Panel

23/04/2017 06:23 SAST | Updated 26/04/2017 01:49 SAST

Bill Nye will gladly talk to the media about climate change, but he has no time for climate change skeptics. 

The celebrity scientist slammed CNN’s “New Day” on Saturday for putting together an Earth Day panel that included William Happer ― a physicist who thinks carbon pollution is a myth and once said carbon dioxide was being demonized like Jewish people in Nazi Germany.

When asked about Happer’s skepticism, Nye answered by providing Happer with a few facts about the rising rates of atmospheric CO2 ― but not before scolding the hosts for doing a “disservice” to their viewers.

“I will say, as 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,” Nye said, referring to the widespread consensus among scientists that climate change is real and primarily caused by human activity.

Before he rose to fame as a TV science educator, Nye received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Cornell University and went on to work at Boeing, helping to design parts of Boeing 747 planes and equipment used to clean oil spills. Nye has also worked with NASA to create the MarsDial, a sundial and camera calibrator, for the Mars Exploration Rover project. The “Science Guy” currently serves as the chief executive officer of The Planetary Society, a nonprofit space interest group co-founded by astrophysicist Carl Sagan.

Aaron Bernstein/Reuters
Bill Nye leads demonstrators on a march to the U.S. Capitol during the March for Science on April 22, 2017.

Happer, a Princeton physics professor who studies “spin-polarized atoms and nuclei,” according to his online bio, had earlier stated that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.

“There’s this myth that’s developed around carbon dioxide that it’s a pollutant,” Happer said. “But you and I both exhale carbon dioxide with every breath. Each of us emits about two pounds of carbon dioxide a day, so are we polluting the planet?”

Nye pointed that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at a record rate, according to data released this year by the Environmental System Research Laboratory.

“What he claims to not understand is the rate. It’s the speed at which we’re adding carbon dioxide,” Nye said. “What you got to get is the speed at which things are changing.”

Happer later pressed Nye on global warming, saying that Earth’s “temperature is not rising nearly as fast as the alarmists’ computer models predicted.” He added: “The whole basis for the alarmism is not true. It’s based on flawed computer modeling.”

To which Nye swiftly replied, “That’s completely wrong. Say what you will, but you have it absolutely wrong.” 

In the past, Happer has argued that global warming and an increase in carbon dioxide is “good for mankind.” The climate change skeptic met with President Donald Trump in January, sparking rumors that he was being considered for the role of science adviser.

During Saturday’s panel, Nye offered Happer a bit of advice.

“Sir, with some respect,” Nye said. “I encourage you to cut this out so that we can all move forward and make the United States a world leader in technology.”

This story has been updated to include more information on Nye’s and Happer’s professional backgrounds.

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