Bill Nye's Global Meltdown
32 sec video here:
Andy, this is great item. I tweeted it and sent it worldwide, as I am sure the show even if it doesn't air overseas will be avail later on YouTube channels or other sites after the copyright is released. The Guy McPherson segment of the show should make for compelling thinking outside the box TV, since he says the End Times are coming as early as 2030 and of course most people don't understand what he is saying with this date. I like Guy and his heart is in the right place. What I think he really means to do is 1. try to wake people up with a thought experiment/thought exercise to try to prod people out of their comfort zones on AGW issues and 2. issue a cri de coeur about what he sees as an important existential crossroad we are fast approaching. It will be interesting to see how the GEO show treats Guy on air, as a sympathethic person or as an outcast nutcase. I hope it's the former and not the latter. We shall see. MEANWHILE: while Guy says the date is 2030 when the etc hits the fan, I have to disagree with him on the details and say that we have a lot more time to prepare for the Climapocalypse, at least 30 more generations of humans, that's your great great great grandchildren times 30, Andy and everyone else here, and Guy, too. At least 500 years, even 1000 years. Not But listen to Guy. Come the year 2031 of course, his prediction will be seen for what it was: dreaminess. We have 30 more generations to fix things or die trying. Via 'The Cli-Fi Report': http://cli-fi.net
ANDY REVKIN at his popular NYT-based DOT EARTH blog posts this today:
Science Guy Bill Nye Explores How We Mourn a Changing Climate
In the face of losses caused by global warming, scientists, activists, and the public at large may be working through “climate change grief.”
The pastel Art Deco buildings of Miami Beach face a waterlogged future, as rising seas and saltwater intrusion threaten to reclaim the low-lying city. Hundreds of square miles of forest lay torn asunder in Alberta, Canada, as tar sand companies squeeze viscous fuel out of the earth below. And California’s lands lay baking and parched, as a historic drought continues to suck the Golden State dry.
It’s enough to provoke some strong feelings. Perhaps you’d prefer to ignore the growing signs of climate change, denying that the Earth’s shifting weather patterns will have a material effect on your life. Maybe you’re angry—or even depressed—about the problem’s size and our insufficient response to it. Or perhaps you’ve accepted climate change as the great challenge of our time and are ready to get to work.
In other words, you may be progressing through the five stages of a particular kind of grief: climate grief. And you’re not alone. Bill Nye the Science Guy is right there with you.
In the upcoming TV special “Explorer: Bill Nye’s Global Meltdown,” which premieres Sunday, November 1, on the National Geographic Channel, Nye guides viewers through the “five stages of climate grief”—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—as a means of grappling with his own feelings about climate change.
With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Nye’s on-screen grief counseling—administered by a sage Arnold Schwarzenegger—serves to categorize the varied ways that different businesses, governments, and citizens are responding to climate change. In Nye’s telling, for instance, the oil company Shell “bargains” with climate change when it builds a massive carbon sequestration plant in Alberta, Canada, that will capture less than two percent of the area’s CO2 output.
“It’s a little bit forced, but it’s charming,” Nye says.
Yet make no mistake: Climate change will cause individual and societal loss, and how people will process that loss through grieving increasingly preoccupies scientists and policymakers.
Nye takes his cues from Steve Running, a University of Montana ecologist and lead chapter author on the lauded 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won a Nobel Peace Prize that same year. When traveling the U.S. on a post-Nobel lecture tour, he noticed that his audiences’ responses varied wildly: Some proved utterly resistant to his discussion of a changing climate; others, he felt, were “very sad and demoralized” about the pending future.
Running soon realized that the “five stages of grief,” popularized in the 1970s by psychologist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross to explain people’s methods for dealing with loss, mapped surprisingly well onto his observations.
“I remember thinking, ‘Oh, this fits pretty well, this lays out the logic,’” he says, and worked “climate grief” into a widely circulated essay and presentation that has only grown in popularity.
“It’s a clever way to think about [climate change],” says Janet Swim, a psychologist at Penn State University who studies personal and social responses to climate change.
Though Swim emphasizes that research into climate change and mental health has barely begun, it’s clear that one faction in particular is struggling with a staggering sense of loss: climate scientists. As numerous media reports indicate, climate scientists’ existentially numbing work has mired many in what could be considered climate depression.
Running knows the feeling, especially after the failed Copenhagen climate summit of 2009. “After 2009 I had fits of depression.” Running says. “It was kinda hard not to slide back.”
The repercussions may well spread far and wide. The American Psychological Association, for instance, has forecast that climate change will likely have a profound impact on human mental health and well-being, whether from the shock of an extreme weather event such as Hurricane Katrina, or the sense of helplessness that climate change’s magnitude may provoke.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, more than 200 million Americans likely will bear some mental health hiccup because of climate change and related events.
“If there’s anything universal about climate change, it’s loss,” says Katharine Preston, an ecumenical lay preacher who focuses on social justice and the environment. And with loss, invariably, comes some form of grief.
For Preston, who counts Running as one of her inspirations, it’s a “matter of the head and the heart,” as laid out in a 2013 article she wrote on climate grief:
Have we ignored our emotional and spiritual connections to the planet? Could the noise swirling around climate change—science, politics, media blitzes, as well as the weather disasters themselves—drown out the voice of a loss so profound that it rests unnamed in our souls? Could our breaking hearts be part of the reason we are immobilized?
But Preston, along with climate scientists and figures including Nye, underscores the importance of working through the loss in an effort to keep up motivation. Swim’s research, for example, shows that discussing climate change with supportive communities and taking group-level action, such as advocating for bike paths and other green options, can make a positive difference.
“It’s not like it’s ever done,” says Swim. “But it helps.”
As for Nye, he remains eager to get to work on climate change. He has to.
“You have to be optimistic, but you don’t have to look at the world through rose-colored glasses,” he says. “You can be discouraged. But you have to believe the problem is solvable, or you won’t do anything.”
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Now It’s Bill Nye With Climate Change Denial – and Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Rescue
In recent years, Bill Nye, best known as “The Science Guy,” has become a must-book figure when a talk show, or President Obama for that matter, is looking for someone to challenge climate change denial.
But however well intended, such efforts often seem to empower defenders of fossil fuels as much as those seeking a low-emissions energy future, given how name calling syncs with the nation’s broader, edge-driven political polarization.
That’s why “Explorer: Bill Nye’s Global Meltdown,” premiering Sunday night* on National Geographic Channel, is so refreshing. In the program, written and directed by Chris Cassel, Nye reluctantly resolves to confront the five stages of “climate change grief” after he is diagnosed with that malady by his cigar-chomping therapist, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The program is built around the environmental equivalent of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five mental stages of dealing with death — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The conceit makes a nice structure for what is a mix of road movie and science explainer.
Spurred by his diagnosis, Nye goes on the road, exploring denial in surreal conversations with a Florida state legislator who flatly rejects any human contribution to global warming or coastal risks, and a street sampling of tuned-out citizenry, even in flood-prone Miami. A helicopter tour shows the entire city is evidently in denial given the blistering pace of construction in the face of inevitable and sustained sea level rise. In the context of warming and sea levels, Nye can’t resist pulling out a flask to show how heated water expands.
Nye hits his nadir in a desert meeting with an apocalyptic ecologist, Guy McPherson, who has built something of an “End of Days” following through his prediction that the human race will be gone by 2030. (For a reality check on McPherson, read Michael Tobis and Scott Johnson.)
McPherson’s deadpan pronouncements send Nye into a nihilistic tailspin, including a rare unraveling of his bow tie and a cigarette-puffing walk down the middle of a highway (Cassel said that scene was Nye’s idea), followed by a hilarious cigar-smoking session back in his therapist’s office.
If you can’t catch the show, or want a foretaste, here’s a slide show of the journey.
It’s nice to see Nye explore various facets of denial in a way that, while including some deserved digs at Florida Republicans, is more informative than divisive.
Indeed, in a phone interview Friday, Nye said he sees a rising prospect of a Republican presidential candidate turning the corner on climate:
I can imagine, with the right advisers influencing the right candidate, that in order to win the votes of millennials, people coming of age right now, you would have to change your stance on climate change. I could easily imagine a thoughtful Republican, along about February or March next year, saying, ‘I’ve been thinking about this issue and I’ve changed my mind. We need to get to work on this right away.’That would be a phenomenally great thing. I hope the person doesn’t backfire where the person wins the election and then abandons the necessary policies. But I feel we’re so close to a tipping point on this issue where it will no longer possible for a presidential candidate to ignore the reality of climate change.
The film may also offer some comfort to many environmental commentators who were horrified when 21st Century Fox and the National Geographic Society created a joint commercial enterprise. National Geographic Channel has long been a part of Fox and, along with this show, is producing the next season of the climate documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously” and produced “Cosmos.” Amusingly, a montage of Nye’s sparring matches with conservative media in the new film includes a snippet of Fox News in finest form.
One disappointment for me was the lack of any mention — particularly from a science guy — of the decades of bipartisan disinvestment in basic research and development in energy sciences in the United States and other industrialized countries — a gap that many studies have found would need to be filled to have any chance of achieving steep drops in greenhouse-gas emissions.
There’s no mention of nuclear power and a pretty simplified summary of how to end fossil fuel use with today’s renewable-energy technologies. (That’s the difference between a thought experiment and a road map.) But this would realistically require far more than an hour.
Over all, “Bill Nye’s Global Meltdown” is a welcome and entertaining departure from the longstanding stream of woe and shame dominating environmental filmmaking in recent years.
If you want to multitask while watching, you can leaf or click through the November issue of National Geographic Magazine, headlined “Cool It.” The entire issue is devoted to the topic of climate change science and policy options.
And of course, don’t forget to check out Nye’s forthcoming climate book, “Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.” I’ll be reading it shortly.
*The program airs at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time EST IN USA ; remember the time change.