Rachel Maddow Interviews Scientist Bill Nye on Climate Change and the Blizzard

For the latest on climate science, see The year climate science caught up with what top scientists have been saying privately for years.  I’ll be doing more posts on the science soon.


21 Responses to Rachel Maddow Interviews Scientist Bill Nye on Climate Change and the Blizzard

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    Bravo to Bill, and to Rachel — and the “Bill Strategy” for moving things forward

    I saw the show last night. Bravo.

    It gave me an idea that I call the “Bill Strategy”. Here’s how it goes …

    Society should replace Bill O’Reilly (Fox) with Bill Nye The Science Guy. Retire O’Reilly to some island somewhere, and let Nye take over on Fox.

    In parallel, society should replace Bill Keller (The New York Times) with Bill McKibben. Let Bill McK run the paper in a way that genuinely serves the public good, including (among other things) a full respect for science. Get rid of the ExxonMobil ads and use the space for much better articles and 350 reminders.

    If we can somehow accomplish this “Bill swap”, civilly and responsibly of course, that would be a great step forward.

    Cheers — Bravo (again) to Rachel and Bill,


  2. Larry Coleman says:

    Maddow was sensational, devastating! Just about the most devastating debunking of Beck and Hannity that I have seen. The Nye guy was a bit of a disappointment. His explanation of the difference between weather and climate, e.g., was fine if you already knew the difference…otherwise it was code…would be unconvincing to the unconvinced.

  3. Brian D says:

    I’m actually a bit disappointed. Despite having both Maddow and Nye, they miss the very simple explanation as to why increased snowfall is expected with rising temperatures. When Keith Olbermann gets the science communication better than a Maddow/Nye combination, something is wrong. (It’s not *bad*, but it could have been so much better.)

    (Likewise for Jon Stewart, who managed to get some of the point across while still poking incredible fun at poor extrapolation. Colbert also did this, but he’s got a better record on climate change than Stewart.)

  4. Thanks Joe for reporting this.. Let be thankful that this works to cement denialism with Republicans. Every time denialist speech and PR comes out, it is clearly connected to Republican speakers and strategy. I am so grateful for that.

  5. HighTest says:

    Thank you, Joe, for the Rachel Maddow interview with Bill Nye. Exactly what I personally need this snowy week to help my non-science, non-tech friends know how to see this.
    I’m a fan of Bill Nye, but don’t know Rachel. My loss. Tell us more about her.
    Thanks again.

  6. Ellie Cohen says:

    Thank you Dr. Romm for your excellent posts and for speaking out to the media and public based on scientific evidence. I thought Rachel Maddow did very well but was disappointed in Dr. Nye the Science Guy. The evidence is much more compelling than he was able to convey. Hopefully you will have the opportunity to speak on Rachel’s show next!

  7. Michael T. says:

    Jon Stewart had a great segment last night on the snowstorm.

  8. billy t says:

    I also was a bit disappointed in Dr Nye. To me, it seems that the explanation could have been a lot more straightforward – ie global warming means more moisture in the air. If lots of moist air is blown up from the ocean and hits the cold (ie winter) air over the North East, it is going to snow. Big time. Being a weather guy, he could have had a nice diagram showing the warm moist air coming up from the Atlantic and htting the cold continental air. It seems pretty logical that if the ocean air is warmer, then more water is going to be transported across to that cold place.

  9. dhogaza says:

    I also was a bit disappointed in Dr Nye.

    Me, too. His biggest gaff, IMO, was historical – he claimed that it was the IPCC that discovered anthropogenic global warming, when of course the IPCC was set up to evaluate the growing body of science (dating back to Tyndall, leading forward to modern workers like Hansen) that taken together makes the case.

    Maddow was great, and as I said in the earlier thread, I loved her use of court-long last-minute basketball shots to illustrate how misleading anecdotal data can be.

  10. Michael T. says:

    #8 billy t: That’s correct. It should come as no surprise to people, that if you have an extreme outbreak of arctic air over the eastern half of the country, and very warm SSTs, then it’s going to snow heavily. Now, if the AO wasn’t so negative right now, which means it wouldn’t be as cold, then the current precipitation would likely fall as rain instead. It’s also possible that the strong storms are a result of the increased temperature gradient between the warmer arctic and cooler mid latitudes due to the negative arctic oscillation and El Nino pattern.

    AO index:

    Here is the national temperature for January from NCDC:

    “The January 2010 temperature for the contiguous United States was 31.1 degrees F, which is 0.3 degrees above the long-term average.”

    Even with the cold snap during the first half of the month, January was still above the long-term national average. But the contrarians still ignore that fact and the warmest January in the UAH satellite record.

  11. Gary Brady says:

    More moisture in the air will mean more cloud cover, do you agree? Cloud cover will cool the planet as less of the sun’s heat will get through. You can see this easily whether you are a scientist or not; stand in the sun and it is warm, when the clouds cover the sun the temperature drops. It’s a load of hype and rubbish to charge you more for energy.

  12. Brewster says:

    Gary, assuming you are right and more water vapour = more clouds,
    that still doesn’t necessarily mean cooler average temps.

    It might be cooler in the day, but those same clouds act as a blanket at night, keeping it warmer.

    There was a study done after 9/11, (maybe someone else remembers exactly who did it) when grounding all the aircraft reduced cloud cover, and the results were exactly as I have explained it.

  13. Michael T. says:

    #12 Brewster: The climatologist who did that study was David Travis at UW-Whitewater.

    That study was featured in the 2006 PBS documentary “Dimming the Sun”

    Here it is on YouTube:

  14. Shawn says:

    Bill Nye stressed in the beginning of the program that Global Warming is a confusing term that was being said by every news station. Global Climate Change is the correct term, since that is what is happening. I don’t know how much more blunt he could have been with the material so viewers would understand. Climate warms up, atmosphere stores more moisture, that fluctuates weather patterns, creating storms like we see in D.C.

    *tear* I wish media would do their homework like Maddow, they are the primary informants (nowadays) for the common folk and there is no reason to disrespect the scientific community.

  15. Rick Covert says:

    If you have an iPhone or iPod touch grab that Rachel Maddow show off of iTunes before it gets replaced. The show Joe referrenced above is dated Feb., 11 2010. The Rachel Maddow show is only posted for 24 hours except the Friday show. You can get it in video or audio only. So next time your global warming denying friends and relatives say the snowzilla storms of 2010 disprove global warming you can “roll tape” as it were.

    BTW Joe, how’s that show for messaging severe global climate disruption?

  16. homunq says:

    Warmer air with more moisture has the same number of clouds – more from the moisture, and less from the warmth. Since the “warmer” and the “more moisture” are unequally distributed, global warming changes cloud distribution; but it’s not a simple question of more or less. In fact, the best models (the ones that agree with reality the best) show that the clouds to disappear are low ocean clouds; this effect actually accelerates global warming.

    (Sorry, I can’t help it. I know that most drive-by deniers are looking to score conversational points, and are often the purest of trolls, but I still think succinct comebacks are worth it.)

  17. jon says:

    It was a good attempt to explain climate change and I was disappointed that NOAA was mentioned only once because NOAA has the low down on climate change and most or at least a lot the dynamics of how it works, but to get straight to the real world of climate change on NOAA’s web site, do a search on the home page on ICE AGE CYCLES because that is how the climate of this planet is driven in the long term and El Ninos are the intermediate handlers of the weather.

    Things about the climate and the changes, are that it is unpredictable in the short term, it is violent or calm, wet or dry and most cases right now evident in different locations and at this point, the planet is on the warming side of the past ice age so as much as we humans pollute the planet which can effect temperature, the warming is most probably due to the interglacial period and at sometime, hundreds or a couple or few thousand years, the plant will go back into then next glacial period of the next ice age.

    Check out NOAA, read Richard Alley’s ‘The Two-Mile Time Machine’ and/or Doug Macdougall’s ‘Frozen Earth’, all inform and I have to say with a high degree of interest.

  18. prokaryote says:

    jon what’s your thoughts on the permanent el nino?

    The Pliocene Paradox (Mechanisms for a Permanent El Niño) cgi/ content/ abstract/ 312/ 5779/ 1485

  19. jon says:

    I cannot access this article thus I will not comment on a permanent EL Nino.

    But what I have read, I can’t see the El Nino/Southern Oscillation being permanent because the whole process of climate change will eventually take this planet into another ice age and while the higher latitudes would have ice cover, the equatorial part could still be able to open to warming effects from the sun.

  20. jon says:


    I have read back on El Nino and have come to a conclusion that it is a method of moving energy around via wind and waves of solar energy, trapped or not, I cannot see EN/SO being as a permanent phenomena as in unrelenting or continuous but I can see it as permanent in the build up or creation from various sub phenomena that produce it but eventually it will lose the energetic forces that move it and will break down.

    It could easily be longer lived at times depending on conditions but I think the only permanence would be in its cyclical nature unless a major ice age can stop it.

    I may have missed a lot here but one thing that strikes me about the building of the EL/SO is that is begins in the Indonesian waters which are relatively shallower than other parts and how that effects the energy levels from the currents and winds, I not sure for now.