Science & Tech

Facing Climate Change: Our Greatest Challenge

Bill Nye

Lesson time 12:31 min

Using critical thinking skills, Bill breaks down the evidence of climate change and explains the science behind it. He talks about ice cores, greenhouse gases, and how the fossil fuel industry tries to downplay the danger.

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Topics include: Evaluate the Evidence · Reject Bad-Faith Arguments · Know Your Greenhouse Gases


[MUSIC PLAYING] BILL NYE: Climate change isn't a hoax. It's real, and it's serious. I've seen the scientific evidence firsthand, and it's undeniable. Let's evaluate these discoveries, see what they tell us. Once you've dug up the truth, you'll have the motivation to take action. Critical thinking-- it's a way to evaluate evidence. And critical thinking is generally based on a claim. So let's talk about climate change. There are people who claim that the Earth's climate is not being affected by humans. There are people who claim that it is. Well, let's evaluate the evidence. First of all, people have dumped a great deal of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere since around 1750 when steam engines were really perfected by James Watt, after whom we named the unit of power, the watt. And the world has gotten warmer, and we prove this by looking at ice-- ice. I've been to Greenland, the East Greenland Ice Core Research Project where the University of Copenhagen and the National Science Foundation from the US have worked together to drill deep into the ice. You pull up cylinders of solid ice. And this ice was created by layer after layer after layer after layer of snow that fell on the island of Greenland over millennia. It has little bubbles of air. Well, the bubbles of air were put there when snow fell in ancient times, over 1,000 years ago-- in some cases, 10,000 years ago. As the snowflakes pack down by their weight, they trap bubbles between the tines of the snowflakes. We pull these ice cores up. We melt them carefully and measure the amount of various gases that were trapped in the ice. Now, look, there's no way for those gases to get trapped in the ice now. Those gases were trapped in the ice thousands of years ago. There's nobody running around 2 miles down on the ice sheet of Greenland with a hypodermic needle squirting bubbles into the ice. And cores have been taken not only in Greenland but in Antarctica and Siberia as well. They show the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has spiked. And this increase begins with the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. Measurements of the core's water isotopes tell us the Earth has gotten warmer at exactly the same time. This is no coincidence, people. So compare the overwhelming evidence from the ice cores with the anecdotal evidence having to do with certain events in certain places where it was warm now and then. It's not specific enough from the other side. And a big thing the other side likes to say-- do you remember back in the mid 1970s, there was a scientist who said that he thought it we were entering an ice age? Well, the thousands of scientists presenting evidence that we're not entering an ice age now overwhelms that one cherry-picked example. Let us use Occam's razor. That is to say, let's look for the simplest explanation. One explanation is thousands of modern scientists are wrong. Another explanati...

About the Instructor

With his 19-time Emmy Award–winning show, Bill Nye the Science Guy introduced the joy of scientific discovery to a worldwide audience. Now, for the first time, the beloved educator is teaching his framework for scientific thinking and everyday problem-solving. Learn Bill’s approach to navigating information through “critical filtering” and embrace a science-based, optimistic response to some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Bill Nye

Emmy Award–winning science educator Bill Nye teaches you his method for solving everyday problems, evaluating information, and thinking like a scientist.

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