Bill Nye urges students to lead the fight against climate change

Bill Nye speaks about the importance of addressing climate change at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on Friday night. College Democrats brought Nye to Northwestern to speak about his environmental efforts and his role in promoting science education and research.

Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Bill Nye speaks about the importance of addressing climate change at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on Friday night. College Democrats brought Nye to Northwestern to speak about his environmental efforts and his role in promoting science education and research.

Shane McKeon, Assistant Campus Editor

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A familiar face in middle and high school science classes, Bill Nye called on Northwestern students of all majors Friday to consider the following: Anyone can help to combat climate change.

Throughout his 90-minute talk to a sold-out crowd at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, he told audience members they could “change the world.”

Nye has used his celebrity status following “Science Guy” to advocate for action on climate change. He presented evidence that the temperature has increased over the last century.

“People who are in denial of climate change are just not paying attention,” Nye said, “or they’re working very hard to protect special interests that are their own, not the world’s.”

Nye’s talk, sponsored by College Democrats, often mixed science and politics. He critiqued politicians and public figures that don’t believe in climate change, evolution or mandatory vaccinations for children.

He also said the federal government should play a larger role in encouraging scientific experimentation and exploration.

“To stay economically in the game, I strongly believe that the United States needs to invest in science wherever it can,” he said.

During the Q-and-A, Nye called astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, put him on speakerphone and allowed a student to ask a question to the host of the television series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.”

Tyson said he’s seen less and less denial of science as time goes on, which makes him excited for the future.

“I think that’s a good sign given everything else you see in this world, especially in this country,” he said. “So let’s keep that trend going, keep rational people in elected office, so we can realize a 21st century that’s like what we all dream of.”

Tyson will speak at Northwestern on May 14.

Nye spoke of the inspiring vastness of space and what people can learn from it.

“The reason I go on about space, guys, is because space brings out the best in us,” Nye said. “When we explore space, we’re learning about ourselves, about the cosmos and our place within it. It is an amazing insight, an astonishing thing that you and I are made of the same stuff as stars.”

Allison Ortega, College Democrats’ outgoing vice president of programming who helped organize the event, introduced Nye with College Democrats’ outgoing president Quentin Heilbroner, a Weinberg junior.

“He has served as the base for popular science for years,” said Ortega, a Weinberg senior.

Weinberg freshman Tiffany Anderson, who’s considering majoring in biology, said Nye’s television show helped spark her interest in the science as a kid.

She said she was struck at how Nye is still able to inspire young people with science.

“The fact that he’s still so interesting now when we’re college students, that’s awesome,” Anderson said. “He’s as cool now as he was then.”

Before leaving to a standing ovation and chants of his name, Nye took a few questions from the audience.

When asked how students could make progress on issues as large as climate change, Nye had one major piece of advice — be optimistic.

“You have to believe you’re going to win the war,” Nye said. “Or you won’t.”

Email: ShaneM@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @Shane_McKeon

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