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Bill Nye Just Congratulated a Climate Denier on His New Position as NASA Chief

Wait - what?

CARLY CASSELLA
19 APR 2018

On Thursday, the US Senate narrowly confirmed President Trump's controversial nominee for NASA administrator, Representative Jim Bridenstine.

Bill Nye was one of the first to congratulate Bridenstine on his new appointment.

 

The tweet is a bit surprising given that Bill Nye is considered a champion for science... and Bridenstine is, well, not.

A former Navy pilot, Bridenstine's experience running a large organization, let alone a leading scientific organization, is nil. Plus, Bridenstine does not have a background in science and he is a climate denier.

In 2013, Bridenstine stood on the floor of Congress and delivered a minute of straight-up climate denial propaganda.

Last year, when he was asked during his Congressional hearing to what extent humans have contributed to climate change, Bridenstine replied, "That is a question I do not have an answer to."

"You don't know that that's the scientific consensus?" asked Senator Brian Schatz, baffled.

Bridenstine's track record on environmental issues leaves a lot to be desired. As a member of Congress, Bridenstine has supported offshore drilling, opposed regulating greenhouse gas emissions and proposed the end of important climate research programs.

For instance, while Bridenstine has assured Congress that he acknowledges the importance of NASA's Earth Science Division, in the past, he has proposed moving earth science research out of the agency altogether.

Just one day before Bridenstine's confirmation, The Daily Beast reported that prior to his time in Congress, Bridenstine drove a charity that he ran into significant financial losses.

The scoop here is not Bridenstine's apparent inability to run even a small organization. The true scandal is that some of the charity's financial losses came about because Bridenstine used its resources to benefit a company that he co-owned.

 

Yet despite all the controversy, criticism and scandal, Bill Nye seems oddly excited to work with Bridenstine, which is strange coming from a man who has publicly called climate deniers "clowns".

Although, when it comes to Bridenstine's anti-science beliefs, Nye has repeatedly turned a blind eye.

Last year, Nye drew criticism from the scientific community when accepted an invitation from Bridenstine to attend President Trump's State of the Union - assumably as a show of bipartisanship.

At the time, Nye assured his fans on Twitter that his attendance "should not be … seen as an acceptance of the recent attacks on science and the scientific community."

But congratulating a climate denier on his confirmation as head of one of the most important science agencies in the US certainly comes across as acceptance. Or - at the very least - it comes across as normalizing a very dangerous point of view.

From his side, Nye claims that Bridenstine has changed his mind on anthropogenic climate change and is willing to work with the scientific community.

 

"During his recent nomination hearing, Congressman Bridenstine said that he now accepts climate change and that humans are playing a role in it," Nye told Quartz in a statement.

"He's changed his mind, and in science that's generally a good thing. I am hopeful that others will see the wisdom in the Congressman's evolving view and follow suit. Let's embrace the science and rise to the challenge of climate change."

But whatever Bridenstine might have told Nye in private, his Congressional hearings say otherwise.

During these hearings, Bridenstine never stated that he thought humans were the primary cause of climate change. In fact, he repeatedly side-stepped the question. Nor has Bridenstine confirmed his change of heart publicly.

The US March for Science, which Nye spoke at last year, tweeted its dismay after Bridenstine's confirmation on Thursday.

As did many other science advocates and organizations.

For now, it appears that Nye is one of the only members of the scientific community that is hopeful about Bridenstine's leadership.

Science AF is ScienceAlert's new editorial section where we explore society's most complex problems using science, sanity and humor.

 
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