Fox News' Tucker Carlson had a contentious debate with Bill Nye the Science Guy over whether global warming is a "settled science" or not. The segment aired on Fox News Monday.
After a few minutes introducing the subject, Carlson introduced the main question he would try to get Nye to answer.
To what degree is climate changed caused by human activity? Is it a hundred percent caused by human activity, is it 74.3%? It's "settled science," please tell us to what degree human activity is responsible.
"So the word 'degree' is a word that you chose," Nye argued, "but 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, fifteen thousand years, it's happening on a time-scale of decades, and now years."
"To what extent is human activity responsible for speeding that up?" Carlson interfered before Nye could move on.
"A hundred percent!" Nye interjected. "If that's the number you want. Humans are causing it to happen catastrophically fast."
"OK so at what rate would it have changed without human activity?" Carlson asked pointedly. "You look annoyed that I'm asking these questions, but they're very basic questions. They're not denial."
"OK, so, basically, the cycles of climate change," Nye started again, "the last ice age we had was tens of thousands of years ago. So, uh, bear in mind that in ancient dinosaur days there was more carbon monoxide, the world was warmer than it is now, there was an inland sea in what is now Wyoming. I understand you have a member of Congress from Colorado used to be underwater and you can go to Dinosaur National Monument to see it, but that was millions of years ago."
"You just said it was tens of thousands," Carlson reminded him.
"That was the ice age," Nye responded. "The rate, the rate is the problem. Now here's the thing - half of the people in the world live on sea coasts. As we get the ocean a little bit warmer, the ocean is going to expand, and people on the sea coast are going to be displaced."
"OK, but you're changing," Carlson interrupted again, "you're not answering my question."
"Yes I am, I'm talking about the speed of the climate change," Nye answered.
"I'm asking you a simple question about the rate of climate change," Carlson challenged again. "You said that it would be happening but that rate has been accelerating because of human activity. And I'm asking very simply-"
"The word 'accelerated' is an understatement," Nye interrupted. "It's happening extraordinarily fast."
"I'm asking you a simple question," Carlson tried again. "And because the science is settled, I hope you can answer it in simple terms, which is, without human activity would it have taken for us to reach this level of warmth in our climate."
Ah, it's not clear that it would have happened. In other words, humans have changed the climate so drastically that we almost certainly avoided another ice age. There would have been another ice age - ain't gonna happen. Because of you and me. So the sooner we get to work on this problem -
"So when would it have happened?" Carlson asked again.
"When would the next ice age have happened?" Nye asked quizzically. "Is that your question? I claim that's irrelevant."
Look, here's the point, that I hope our viewers can understand. I'm not in any way denying that the climate is changing, I'm utterly open to the possibility that the changes are caused by man's activity. I'm merely calling into question your claim that all of this is settled. That we know precisely what is happening, and why, and anybody who asks pointed questions about is a denier and should be imprisoned or shouted off the stage.
"You know, that was your word," Nye objected, "you guys, that's not my, that's not my claim, and I really-"
"Would you like me to read your quote," Carlson interjected, "that people who disagree with you ought to potentially go to jail? You said that, and I'm just saying actual skepticism baked into science. Should we be encouraging people to ask honest questions which I am doing, and you don't seem to have the answers to those questions."
"I gotta disagree with you," Nye responded, "I claim that I do have the answers."
Nye eventually started answering the question, but not to Carlson's satisfaction.
It would have looked like it did in 1750. Britain would not be very well suited to growing grapes as it is today. French wine-makers would not be buying land to the North as they are now. People who plan to run ski resorts would still be able to do it in Europe.
"You're using the science of politics," Carlson accused. "You're not a scientist, as you know, you're a popularizer."
Nye continued giving examples of what the climate would be like without human interference.
The use of pesticides in the mid-west would not be increasing because the parasites are showing up sooner, or the pests are showing up sooner and hanging around longer. The forest in Wyoming would not be overwhelmed by pine bark beetles as it is, because of climate change.
"So much of this you don't know," Carlson concluded, "you pretend you know, but you don't know."
"I'm open-minded and you are not," Carlson added.
Nye finished the debate by blaming the recent leaks from the administration on Trump creating faction in the government, an accusation that made Carlson laugh.
Global warming is a fiery issue among the left, as they use the theory based on future climate models to accuse Trump and his cabinet officials of being anti-science and putting all of humanity under threat from natural catastrophes. Trump has said that global warming is a hoax concocted by the Chinese, which they denied.
Bill Nye gained fame as a television performer who would introduce children to basic scientific facts, but he has lately used his celebrity platform to attack religion and those that he believes are acting against scientific freedom. He once appeared to advocate that the "deniers" of global warming be imprisoned, which occasioned the founder of the Weather Channel to abjure him as “pretend scientist in a bow tie.”
Nye has a degree in mechanical engineering from Cornel University and has written books for children about science.