Bill Nye “The Science Guy” implored Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on Sunday to stop wasting time by denying that the climate was changing and to start leading the charge to do something about it.
Nye began his debate with Blackburn on NBC’s Meet the Press by applauding President Barack Obama’s call to create a $1 billion fund to prepare for climate change.
“What I’ve always said, we need to do everything all at once,” Nye explained. “And this is an opportunity for the United States to innovate, to be the world leader in new technologies.”
First it was the outstanding debate on creationism, where Nye did a great job.
Now he continues the scientific offensive on the Sunday morning shows. And he is even better. He just demonstrated how lacking in rhetorical skills so many of our congress critters are.
Most can only spout the latest talking points with not ability to actually understand or discuss them to any depth.
Nye is a trained engineer and head of the Planetary society. So trying to belittle him by simply saying he is an ‘actor’ while the denier is an important member of Congress simply does not stand.
The thing that became obvious is that Nye has learned a lot of great rhetorical tools from his time on TV, which he is using to great effect.
Most scientists only use the facts and are either oblivious to other approaches or disdain them, often to their detriment.
Every one in marketing knows that facts alone does not sell a product.There are a variety of ways to convince people that have nothing to do with facts.
Facts alone do not win debates. And stylistic rhetorical tools (seen in just about every courtroom drama) often do.
But when those tools are used in the service of facts, there can only be one winner.
So, when Blackburn states
“When you look at the fact that we have gone from 320 parts per million — 0.032 to 0.040 — 400 parts per million [carbon dioxide in the atmosphere], you realize it’s very slight”
,implying that 80 parts per million is such a small number that it is insignificant, Nye nails her innumeracy.
“When you asserted, Congresswoman, 320 to 400 parts per million is insignificant, my goodness. That’s 30 percent! I mean, that’s an enormous change. And it’s changing the world. And that’s just over the last few decades.”
(Yes, it is actually 25% but it was live and the point is valid.)
Yet, he tells her that she needs to lead, not deny. He was attacking her denialism, not her personally.
“I encourage the congresswoman to really look at the facts. You are a leader. We need you to change things, not deny what’s happening.”
Although he did provide substantial evidence for why she might not look at the facts or want to lead.