Bill Nye is a “Science Guy,” which is much different than being a scientist. For instance, it involves less actual science and more science-with-an-exclamation-point. If you have trouble telling them apart, the latter involves a) fewer facts and b) more stuff that can be easily grafted onto a condescending tweet from that friend who still has an “#I’mWithHer” profile picture.
The difference was pretty well on display when the erstwhile PBS kids-show host and current human septic tank gave an interview to Dan Rather on Sirius XM last week, and said unequivocally that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are signs of climate change. His logic (aside from the fact that any climate event is a sign of climate change for true believers) is that warming doohickey kinda stuff’s going on and we ought to, you know, do something.
Unfortunately, actual scientists — not just “science guys” — were listening in, and one of them managed to silence Nye pretty much immediately on Twitter.
First, the interview: Nye claimed that the compelling factor linking Irma to climate change was how powerful it was.
— Radio Andy (@RadioAndySXM) September 6, 2017
“It’s the strength that is almost certainly associated with global warming,” Nye told Rather. “As the world gets warmer and there’s more heat energy in the atmosphere, you expect storms to get stronger. You also expect ocean currents to not flow the way they always have. That will make some places cooler and other places warmer.”
“The problem…is that these hurricanes are very powerful,” he added. “We’re all gonna pay for Harvey, we’re all gonna pay for Irma one way or the other. So … anyway, the more heat energy in the atmosphere strengthens the storms — as you would expect.”
Dr. Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with the Cato Institute, didn’t take long to respond to the errors in Nye’s statement to Rather:
Maue also linked to a piece by the National Weather Service, which made it clear that while the NWS felt there was the possibility that rising temperatures could lead to an increase in storm intensity by the end of the 21st century, there was no evidence that current storms were being strengthened due to man-made climate change.
“It is premature to conclude that human activities — and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming — have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity,” the NWS piece stated. “That said, human activities may have already caused changes that are not yet detectable due to the small magnitude of the changes or observational limitations, or are not yet confidently modeled (e.g., aerosol effects on regional climate).”
In other words, there is s absolutely no evidence for Nye’s claim. And that doesn’t just come from Maue, but from the National Weather Service — certainly not a hive of clandestine climate change deniers.
So, just remember, when it comes to analyzing anomalous weather, it’s probably best to leave scientific opining to actual scientists, and not just soi-disant “Science Guys.” Of course, I doubt anyone who spreads “Science!” social media posts is going to pay much attention to the facts, but it’s always good to know that the truth is so easily accessible.
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