Bill Nye — the famous “Science Guy” — is being widely criticized for his decision to attend Tuesday’s State of the Union address as a guest of President’s Donald Trump’s nominee to lead NASA, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).
Bridenstine denies climate science — in particular, widely accepted science that has benefited from the contributions of NASA scientists and that Nye himself has staunchly defended. Back in 2013, Bridenstine actually took to the House floor to demand President Obama apologize for funding climate change research.
The grassroots group “500 Women Scientists” penned a scathing rebuke of Nye in Scientific American titled, “Bill Nye does not speak for us and he does not speak for science.”
“As scientists, we cannot stand by while Nye lends our community’s credibility to a man who would undermine the United States’ most prominent science agency,” the group explained. They say they were unable to stay silent “while Nye uses his public persona as a science entertainer to support an administration that is expressly xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, ableist, and anti-science.”
Nye explained on Twitter that Bridenstine invited him “in my role as CEO of The Planetary Society,” and he accepted because of Bridenstine’s support for space exploration. “My attendance tomorrow should not be interpreted as an endorsement of this administration, or of Congressman Bridenstine’s nomination, or seen as an acceptance of the recent attacks on science and the scientific community,” Nye added.
But “500 Women Scientists” asserts that through this action Nye “tacitly endorses climate denial, intolerance and attacks on science,” and accuses him of putting “his own personal brand over the interests of the scientific community at large.”
Meanwhile, the activist groups ClimateTruth.org, Climate Hawks Vote, and Demand Progress delivered petitions with over 40,000 signatures from their members to Nye via the Planetary Society expressing how “bewildered and disappointed” they were by Nye’s decision.
Under Trump, the United States has become a rogue nation on climate change, the only major country to say it will not abide by the Paris climate agreement, the world’s best remaining chance to avoid catastrophic climate change. And Trump has been attacking science at the EPA and other agencies.
To date, Bridenstine has not been able to muster enough votes to pass the full Senate, reportedly due of his science denial and the fact he is a politician without any scientific credentials, unlike previous NASA chiefs.