At his commencement address at Rutgers University, Bill Nye – famous for popularizing science as the Science Guy – said that climate change is the most serious crisis mankind has ever faced, liking the psychological pressure to that experienced by our parents and grandparents during World War II. He then called on the students to rise to the challenge and question those who deny the reality the planet is currently facing out of ignorance or malevolence alike.


Bill Nye speaking in front of the Class of 2015 at Rutgers University. Credit: Rutger University

“We are now deep in the most serious environmental crisis in human history,” he said. “The oncoming trouble is climate change. It is going to affect you all in the same way the Second World War consumed people of my parents’ generation. They rose to the challenge and so will you,” Nye said.

“They came to be called the greatest generation. I want you all to preserve our world in the face of climate change and carry on as the next great generation.”

Climate skeptics are always a tough crowd, since no amount of evidence seems to suffice at times. Bill Nye offers a tip though: liken climate change conspiracies to lung cancer.

“Our climate is changing. Denying this is in no one’s best interest. If you know any climate deniers, just try asking them this question: ‘do you believe there is a conspiracy among healthcare professionals that is duping the world into thinking that cigarette smoking causes cancer?’

“The scientific consensus on climate change is at least as strong as the consensus on smoking. Climate change is a real deal. So, hey deniers — cut it out, and let’s get to work.”

The tobacco companies knew and for most part accepted the evidence that cigarette smoking was a cause of cancer by the late 1950s. Any sensible person would have in face of the evidence. However, that didn’t stop tobacco manufacturers to fund studies intended to obfuscate and prolong the debate about smoking and health. Tobacco manufacturers knew very well they couldn’t say cigarettes are good for your health (they actually marketed them this way at some point!), but any master of confusion knows it’s enough to sow dissent to harvest profit. Just make the whole thing uncertain, at least to the public.

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The leading climate scientists of the world agree with 95% confidence that climate change is real and caused by man-made activities. It’s only the public opinion that’s been polarized, willfully confused by the media in thinking this is a 50/50 game. For instance, 9 out 10 climate change deniers are linked to Exxon Mobile. This year, ZME Science exposed an embarrassing scandal: one part-time Harvard scientists published 11 papers disputing climate change, but was funded $1.2 million by oil companies.The person in question, Wei-Hock Soon, would often appear on climate change skeptic TV stations like FOX, and is often cited by climate change deniers as “evidence” for their arguments. Read the ZME Science interview with leading climate scientist Michael Mann for more about shill tactics employed by the oil and gas industry and their lobbyists.

The speech was welcomed by students, with public health graduate Tanweer Ahmed saying: “We all grew up on Bill Nye, so anything he has to say we are going to take into consideration.”.

Later edit: Just so we’re clear, climate change deniers  is short for those who believe our climate is not rapidly changing due to man-made influence (greenhouse gas emissions and the likes). The climate is always shifting and changes – but typically in a geological timeframe, ie across millions of years. The warming we’re experiencing right now is measured across decades!