Bill Nye on Sandy, Climate Change and the 2012 Election

Did climate change have anything to do with Superstorm Sandy?

Climate change made Storm Sandy more intense. Climate change is responsible for dozens of deaths and billions of dollars of damage. And it is going to get worse.

Until this week, climate change has not received much attention but it is a very important issue for America for this election.

On November 6, voters get to choose how we, as a nation, deal with climate change in the future There are enormous differences in the way Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama, and the Republican and Democratic Parties, deal with climate change and the greenhouse gases that unquestionably increased the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy... and will continue to cause havoc with our weather.

What, exactly, Bill, is the science on this?

Let's be clear on the science. Climate change does not cause hurricanes and storms like Sandy... but climate change makes them worse -- no question. The Scientific Journal, in an article on Tuesday, October 30, by senior editor Mark Fischetti says it clearly:

Climate change amps up... basic factors that contribute to big storms... The oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms, and the Earth's atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture which is drawn into storms, and is then dumped on us.

The basic mechanism of climate change is very, very simple... Gases in our atmosphere allow sunlight to pass through easily on the way down from space. But, after the light warms the Earth, these gases hold heat like glass in a greenhouse. That's why it's called "the greenhouse effect." It's what keeps our world warm enough for liquid water to flow and all of us living things to survive.

But in recent decades, it has become clear that we humans are causing the release of certain gases, especially carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere much faster than any time in the past tens of thousands of years. Burning carbon-based substances like oil, gas, and especially coal produces billions of tons of extra carbon dioxide each year. Methane gas from cows and pigs and other animals on our large farms ends up in the atmosphere as well, trapping more of the sun's energy as heat.

What's your sense of the differences between Gov. Romney, President Obama and the Republican and Democratic candidates for Senate and The House of Representatives on the issue of climate change?

There is a very big difference between the candidates and the parties on this issue.

President Obama, Vice President Biden and the Democratic Party's position is consistent with what 90 percent of scientists say -- that humans significantly cause the world to warm and climates to change and that, in order to slow climate change and eventually control its effects, we must slow down and regulate the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane... and develop clean, alternate forms of energy, like solar, wind, geothermal, tidal and biomass.

Governor Romney, Congressman Ryan and the vast majority of those in the Republican Party, however, strongly disagree and they cite a small number of researchers who say that any warming and any climate change is a natural cyclical phenomenon that has been occurring on Earth for millions of years and that human activity is not a significant factor.

Gov. Romney and the Republicans are wrong. It's just not true. At the Republican Convention in Tampa, Gov. Romney re-stated his position by saying, "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family." The audience laughed.

At the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, President Obama responded by saying, "More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They're a threat to our children's future."

Look at what has just happened to our Eastern seaboard. Every scientist that I respect says that this will not only continue, but will continue to get worse, unless we stop pumping more and more greenhouse gases into the environment.

America is going to vote in a few days. Is there evidence, beyond general statements, that Democrats are more serious about addressing and solving the problems of carbon emissions and climate change?

The Republicans, almost exclusively... the Republican members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, stand in the way of any attempt to reduce greenhouse emissions or to get away from our dependence on dirty fossil fuels.

Two examples:

No. 1: Just last year the Republicans introduced The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 in the House and the Senate to stop the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, from making ANY regulations regarding greenhouse gases and climate change.

A hundred percent of Republicans voted for the bill to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, and 90 percent of Democrats against the bill to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.

And there is a huge difference between the parties on whether we should spend taxpayer money to subsidize oil companies or companies that are developing the clean solar, wind, geothermal and tidal energy of the future that doesn't contribute to climate change. For example, just a few months back, in March of this year, legislation came up that would give oil companies $4 billion, $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies. Gov. Romney and 96 percent of the Republicans in the Senate said "yes," while President Obama and 92 percent of the Democrats in the Senate said "No."

Democrats and Republicans really do have very different views on climate change and on the promotion of oil vs. clean energy in The United States.

What's your Call to Action to the American people between now and November 6?

If climate change and clean energy are important issues to you, you have to have your voice be heard and vote on November 6!

The 2000 presidential election was decided by 537 votes -- 537 out of a country of 300 million... and elections of senators and congressmen are often decided by hundreds or thousands of votes. I believe Sandy made it clear that climate change has to be a critical issue in this election and I want you, everyone, to get out and choose your America!