Bill Nye sat down with Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday for an interview about environmental protectionism and renewable energy. Wonder twin powers activate!

Nye spoke for most of the chat, which aired via Facebook live, highlighting the destruction of life that will result from increasing global temperatures and rising sea levels. He appealed not only to humanity, but also to those who believe efforts to combat climate change aren’t economically viable. That is, he presented numerous arguments showing how lucrative and cost-effective sustainability is.

In addition to lower costs for individuals, by investing in the “energy business and not the oil business,” as Nye puts it, emerging industries in solar and wind power can immediately create jobs for Americans. The technologies could then be exported to other parts of the world and establish the US as the global leader in renewable energy.

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He spoke about how oil is manufactured, why climate change deniers ignore overwhelming scientific data, and how scientists can regain the confidence of skeptics. Best of all, he covers all these topics with wit, aware that many people dislike him and everything he stands for. But that’s the wonder of Bill Nye – his ability to provide top-notch scientific analysis with a touch of humor.  

Don’t believe me? Don’t have a half hour to actually watch the chat yourself? Here are 17 quotes from Bill Nye during his interview with Bernie Sanders:

On Sea Levels:

“The long term implications [of climate change] are potentially catastrophic. You can hate me. You can hate everything. I understand that. The problem is the speed at which the world is warming and the climate is changing. It’s not that the climate is changing – it’s the rate. Half the people in the world live near coastlines. As the ocean gets a tiny bit warmer, it gets a tiny bit bigger, but the ocean is big and a tiny bit is huge.”

“In the developed world, where we are, we will build sea walls. […] But in the developing world, it’s much more difficult. People are gonna move and be displaced. A scenario that I’ve imagined that seems very reasonable: People in, like the ninth ward in New Orleans, as the ocean comes in, they’re gonna leave – they’re just gonna leave – and they’re gonna default on their mortgages […] And where are they gonna go? And what are they gonna eat? There’s gonna be conflict. We could avoid all this if we just got to work right now.”

On Economics/Jobs:

“If we can show an economic benefit to turning things around, we could turn things around. The example I harken to all the time is to the Solutions Project. The Solutions Project is a group of civil engineers who’ve done an analysis that shows we could power the entire US renewably right now if we just decided to do it. By that I mean wind turbines, solar panels, some geothermal energy, some tidal energy […] These would be US jobs.”    

“The wind is blowing somewhere, the sun is shining somewhere, all the time. We don’t use as much energy at night as we do during the day, so the wind blows at night and we could store this energy. This is right now if we just decided to do it. These are domestic jobs that can’t be exported. It’s a new industry.”

“Imagine all the roofs are solar panels. Everybody will make electricity everywhere. You can hate Senator [Bernie] Sanders. You can hate me. You can hate everything. You can just be a miserable hater person. But when you get an electric bill – in California, which doesn’t have especially cheap electricity – when you get an electric bill for ten bucks, every sixty days, that’s just fun.”

“After you drive an electric car, you’ll never go back. […] In California, at current prices, it costs about a fourth as much to run an electric car as a gas powered car. And by the way everybody, there’s no maintenance.”

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On the Fossil Fuel Industry:

“In Fort McMurray, Alberta, the tar sands influenced the building of the Keystone pipeline and then not too far from there, the Dakota pipeline. You guys, the scale of it is literally hard to imagine. I was in a helicopter, doing television, and you can’t see the end of it. A quarter of the province of Alberta, which is comparable in size to most of Montana, is now denuded. The forest has been scraped away and this tar – the fossil fuel industry has tried to promote the idea that it’s called “oil sand,” but it’s tar. It sticks to your boots. I mean, it’s tar – this is especially expensive and dirty oil. […] But if you go there and look at the expanse of the environmental destruction I can’t believe you won’t change your mind about fossil fuels.”

“As I told the people at Exxon in 1994, […] you guys should be in the energy business, not the oil business. And if they – the fossil fuel companies – used their resources – the money – to go into these different businesses, they would get even richer. That’s my claim.”

On Climate Change Deniers:

“It’s ironic, or amazing, that they’ve hired the same people who were in denial about cigarettes and cancer.”

“Who is the strongest environmentalist? The guy who just built his log cabin. Who is the strongest anti-smoker? The guy who just managed to quit. From an optimistic point of view, if we can just get these people to look at the world a little differently, they will be on the side of domestically produced, renewable electricity in short order.”

“Deniers will come out of the woodwork about [wind turbines] killing birds. If you wanna kill birds, coal fire electricity plants are really the way to go. If killing birds is the thing for you, there’s nothing better than the exhaust from coal plants. Wind turbines, we can solve this problem. […] If you wanna kill birds, fossil fuel is fantastic.”

“Proof isn’t even the word – it’s overwhelming evidence. What you’re doing on the other side is you’re suffering from this magical thing called the backfire effect. When you see evidence that conflicts with your worldview, you just double down on denying it. And we all do it. […] But the stakes with respect to climate change and the world’s population are huge.”

Read More: Half the Species on Earth Could Go Extinct by 2050, Scientists Say

On Policy:

“A lot of the unrest in the Middle East is displaced young men who don’t wanna work the family farm anymore, because the family farm isn’t doing as well as it used to because rainfall patterns have changed. They go to the big cities, they can’t get jobs, they get disenfranchised and then they get involved in, essentially, terrorist operations. You can bite my head off about this, but it’s a very reasonable hypothesis.”

“It’s not just that the world has too many people. That’s not it. It’s that we’re not using our resources as well as we could.”

“Regulations are like a machine. You want all the parts you need, but no more. But you don’t just start taking parts off the machine, just cause.”

“If you hate me and you hate the government, solar energy is for you. Because you’ll make your own electricity.”

How Scientists Can Gain the Trust of Skeptics:

“If we were to discover evidence of life on another world, it would change the course of human history. And I’m not joking you. Many people who are on energy committees are on space committees. So if we got people excited about making discoveries in space, by applying our intellect and treasure to the exploration of space, which is 0.4 percent of the federal budget, we could make extraordinary strides that would once again show people that scientists are trying to learn about nature and the universe.”


Defend the Planet

17 Thought-Provoking Quotes From Bill Nye During His Chat With Bernie Sanders

By James O'Hare