“Shooting the messenger isn’t going to help you on climate change.”
Bill Nye is talking by phone on an early morning bus ride to Ithaca, N.Y., where his alma mater, Cornell University, is set to celebrate its 150th birthday and he’s scheduled to speak. It has been a busy week — including, most notably, a Wednesday trip with President Obama on Air Force One to visit the Florida Everglades on Earth Day — and Nye is answering the political critics who sniped at the visit.
“That it uses a lot of fossil fuel for the president to move around is a necessary evil at this time,” Nye responds. “Earth Day is not ‘stay home from work’ day. It’s ‘let’s change the world’ day.”
“Change the world!” is probably Nye’s trademark line — it was written in a 1992 “rules of the road” memo, he says, that he delivered to all incoming staff on the set of the 1990s PBS show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” telling them modestly what their goals were.
With that TV series, Nye captivated kids with scientific showmanship and humor. In the last few years, though, he has not only recaptured that now-grown-up audience but won an even larger one, with something quite different.
He’s still a jokester — but he’s also become someone who acts a bit like a science gladiator, willing to debate anyone who expressed skepticism about the science of evolution and climate change. He’ll do it on TV — or even at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, where he famously debated creationist leader Ken Ham.