Bill Nye Urges Congress to 'Boldly' Invest in Climate Change Solutions

The famed science educator testified before the House about the challenges of climate change.

Bill Nye

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Speaking with members of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery this past Tuesday, science educator Bill Nye—more affectionately known as “Bill Nye the Science Guy”—had a simple message for the elected officials weighing the impacts of manmade climate change. 

“If you like to worry about things, you’re living at a great time,” Nye said, testifying remotely on Zoom. “These are huge problems and the sooner we get started and the sooner we accept that we’re all in it together, the sooner we’re going to get it done.”

Nye, who hosts the popular Netflix series “Bill Nye Saves the World,” has made a habit of being extremely honest with members of Congress during past testimony on issues such as science education. With climate change the front and center topic, he once pulled absolutely no punches in imploring the committee to act.

“When it comes to climate change, we need big ideas, huge ideas,” Nye said. “Recycling water bottles alone will not address climate change or prepare us for disaster.”

When asked by Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, how the government could push ahead with potential solutions when so many people did not believe there was a problem, Nye recalled a bet he made with some noted climate skeptics. 

“I’ve fought this for 30 years: trying to get people to accept the science of climate change. I offered four bets to two notorious climate deniers. I offered them $10,000 that 2016 would be the hottest year on record, 2010-2020 would be the hottest decade on record. Neither one of them would take either one of the bets,” Nye shared.

He added: “They wouldn’t take the bets because they’re scared. We’re all frightened. This thing is overwhelming and if you don’t believe me, there have been these studies lately that, worldwide, people are having fewer and fewer children. That’s because women and men are a little reticent to bring a kid into a world where the world’s on fire. So, everybody, we’re in this together. We’ve got to fight this fight together. I’m scared too. Let’s get to work.”

Thinking Boldly About the Future

When pressed about potential solutions, Nye urged the members of the committee to invest in developing new technologies that could further reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. 

“Well, if you want to do something bold, let’s invest in fusion energy. I’m not saying it will work, but let’s take a chance,” he said. 

Fusion energy, the same process that powers the Sun, is an experimental power source that uses a nuclear reaction to fuse two light nuclei. This process releases a vast amount of energy (fusion fuels offer about a million times the energy density of fossil fuels) that produces absolutely no carbon dioxide, no long-lived radioactive waste, no risk of melt-down, and all within a footprint that’s smaller than other renewable sources. 

While the running joke is that “fusion is just 30 years away,” there is reason to believe that it will exist soon in more than just Hollywood films like “The Saint.” In October 2019, the United Kingdom government announced a $248 million investment to build the world’s first prototype commercial fusion reactor by 2040. Called STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production), the project has the goal of generating hundreds of megawatts of net electrical energy within a reactor less than 30-feet-wide. 

“STEP is a programme that is packed with adventure, aiming to design and build the world’s first compact fusion reactor by 2040, capable of demonstrating the commercial viability of fusion power by delivering net electricity,” STEP Programme Director Professor Howard Wilson said. “STEP is a prototype and will point the way to a fleet of commercial fusion reactors to be deployed around the world.”

Not surprisingly, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee recently advised a similar effort; calling for an experimental pilot fusion plant by the 2040s. 

“Now is the time to move aggressively toward the deployment of fusion energy, which could substantially power modern society while mitigating climate change,” the committee wrote in their recommendation

Ending his testimony Tuesday, Nye encouraged the committee to look into fusion energy, saying that a $100 million investment would spur massive investments from the private sector. He also implored that taking care of each other and addressing issues like climate change saves money over the long term. 

“The computer models have proven to be true,” he added. “I encourage everyone to realize how serious this problem of climate change is, how it affects everyone on Earth, and how we’ve got to work together to move forward.”