Bill Nye fashions himself a voice of rational thought and scientific inquiry. His shtick has gotten him into classrooms and on an endless loop of evangelizing TV appearances. Yet nearly every time he speaks these days, Nye diminishes genuine science by resorting to scaremonger-y nuggets of easily dismissible ideologically-motivated nonsense.
Take this tweet he sent out to his nearly three million followers:
More severe weather. More suffering. More expense. Let’s all take climate change seriously. pic.twitter.com/HGHQJLgqRr
— Bill Nye (@BillNye) May 11, 2016
If people trusted global warming alarmists, they might function under the premise that severe weather events are something unique to this particular age. It was only the discovery of fossil fuels that forced man to wrestle with the terrifying hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and rain showers. Before the discovery of oil, or the Fall of Man, it was San Diego for everyone all the time.
Is there really more severe weather? More tornadoes, for instance?
Since I’m not an engineer like Nye, I turn to the people at National Centers for Environmental Information and learn that not only has tornado activity seemed to be pretty steady the past few decades (in every single region of the United States, for that matter), but that the frequency of violent tornadoes has decreased.
We’re also still in the middle of the longest hurricane drought in U.S. history, by the way, even though Al Gore assured us that over the past ten years hurricanes would strike with increasing intensity.
Admittedly, climate science is complex. There might be perfectly reasonable scientific justifications for what’s happening on the tornado front. Although, surely, there are just as likely interesting scientific arguments that challenge The Science Guy’s chilling and reckless assertions meant only to scare you into adopting leftist economic policy, not to teach you anything. Nye’s “science” is, at the very least, arguable.
But that’s not the reason Nye is dishonest. Or, at least, not the only reason. His biggest lie—and he makes these sorts of claims all the time—is that people are increasingly suffering because of global warming, and thus by extension they are suffering because of the use of fossil fuels.
This is simply untrue. Life, by nearly any quantifiable measurement, is better today for more people than it has ever been. One of the externalities in the spike of comfort and health is that more people are emitting carbon into the air. Fewer people are suffering. On top of the huge, if inadvertent, moral benefits of oil, gas, and coal, we should add that far fewer people are dying from drastic weather events—or any weather, actually.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that cold kills around 20 times more people than heat. But, in general, there has been an amazing decline in deaths and suffering due to the climate. Indur Goklany has meticulously laid out the case that human progress has not only improved the environment but the lot of humans around the world. The most substantial gains on the latter front correspond directly with the rise of the use of fossil fuels. Take a look at deaths due to climate and drastic weather events.
In some sense, I can understand Nye’s frustration. Offering a nuanced or balanced narrative when preaching your gospel is never going to be as effective as the hellfire.
Now, I’m one of those Philistines who believe climate change is likely real to some extent, but believes that embracing the Ludditism of leftist environmentalism would be far more destructive than any threat global warming poses. Nye actually makes a strong argument for my position. If we concede for the sake of argument that drastic weather events have been rising, why aren’t more people dying? Is it possible that trusting man’s adaptive capacity to deal with these slight variations in the climate is better than freaking out and condemning billions of humans to more poverty?
None of this is up for discussion. Because “science.” In fact, if you asked Nye, he’d probably call for the state to prosecute you for a thought crime.