More Bad Science, Logic, and History From Bill Nye the Un-Science Guy


I almost never watch CNN. In fact, I rarely watch any news programs including Fox. But on Friday my wife was undergoing eye surgery, and I was relegated to the waiting room where the only program on TV was CNN.

Bill Nye, best known for his TV series “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” was being interviewed about the cause of the Texas floods. Of course, he blamed it on climate change. No one doubts that there is climate change. It’s been going on since time began.

For Nye, it’s “man-made climate change” that’s the culprit. So what was it in 1935?

High water mark“In 1935, while Austin was receiving its deluge, San Antonio was hit even harder with 14.07 inches in May with 8.41 inches the next month. The stores around Alamo Plaza were flooded in late May and tiny D’Hanis, Texas, reported a hard-to-believe 20-24 inches of rain in just 2 Hours and 45 Minutes.

“Early to mid-June rains approached 20 inches in many other smaller communities from Uvalde to Austin. The Llano, Colorado and Pedernales Rivers all reached flood stage, affecting the cities of Junction, Llano, and Fredericksburg. On June 14 and 15 the Colorado River was just 1 foot below the record reached in July of 1869.”

Llano TX - Llano River Bridge washed away by 1935 flood
Llano River Bridge in Llano being washed away by the 1935 flood

What makes floods like Texas is experiencing in 2015 more destructive is the result of massive growth in population and infrastructure.

But the most ridiculous part of Bill Nye’s interview was his claim that people who deny the science of “man-made global warming” (or climate change) are like the scientists who claimed that cigarette smoking was not a health hazard. Here’s what Bill Nye said:

“I just want to remind voters that suppose you had somebody running for congressional office in your district who insisted there was no connection between cigarette smoking and cancer. Would you vote for that person? You might, but if this person were adamant — ‘No, the scientists who studied cigarette smoking, they don’t know what [causes lung cancer]…’ — if they were adamant, would you vote for them? And so, in the same way the connection between climate change and human activity is at least as strong as cigarettes and cancer.”

By the way, Bill Nye is not a scientist.

There hasn’t been a time in my life when I ever heard anybody claim that cigarette smoking wasn’t bad for your health. Everybody knew it. You didn’t have to be scientist to know that breathing in hot noxious gases into your lungs was bad for you.

When I was growing up, cigarettes were called “coffin nails.” The New Dictionary of American Slang dates the phrase “coffin nail” from the late 19th century. George Will writes, “Before the surgeon general declared tobacco addictive (1988) and carcinogenic (1964), before a character in a 1906 O. Henry story [The Higher Abdication] asked, ‘Say, sport, have you got a coffin nail on you?’ people intuitively understood that inhaling smoke is unhealthy.”

cigarette smoking

In the seventeenth century, the noxious weed was relegated to the pits of hell by King James I. He denounced smoking as “a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the Nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.”

Without even reading the statistics about tobacco-related illnesses a person knows that smoking cannot be good for the body. The first time a young person inhales, his body reacts by coughing. It’s a sure sign that the body is rejecting the harmful smoke. If inhalation persists despite the body’s early warning system, nausea takes over.

Carbon dioxide is not a noxious gas. It’s a common element in our atmosphere. In fact, we exhale CO2, and trees need it to live and produce Oxygen.

The so-called climate change deniers are said to be like the scientists the tobacco companies trotted out to claim that cigarette smoking was not a health hazard. Testing the effects of cigarette smoke on the lungs is an experiment that is easily performed. The same cannot be said for global warming or climate change models.

Contrary to Secretary of State John Kerry who “warned graduating students at Boston College of the ‘crippling consequences’ of climate change and that ‘Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists tell us this is urgent’” is not supported by the facts. See the article “The Myth of the Climate Change ‘97%’.” The authors conclude that “There is no basis for the claim that 97% of scientists believe that man-made climate change is a dangerous problem.”

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