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      I've decided to pull this update out of my post about Climate Change and expand it a bit because I think it's worth more exposure. The Sunday morning talking head shows are often useless or worse than useless, as they're almost overwhelmingly skewed to conservative biases, conventional narratives, and insider baseball type commentary, rather than anything directly connected with the real world.

      But, even a blind squirrel sometimes finds an acorn - and the media occasionally lets some air into the room. I suspect Bill Nye's willingness to debate on evolution versus creationism led someone at NBC to see if he'd be willing to 'defend' climate change as well. Paradoxically, Nye's lack of standing as a researcher, academic, or advocate for an organization fighting climate change may have helped him slip through the media filter. As a mere science communicator/entertainer, he could be dismissed as a marginal figure; NBC could put him on the air without risking the dangers of  giving a 'real' climate change figure like Bill McKibbon a media platform and legitimacy.

     So it was that on  Sunday February 16, 2014, Meet The Press featured a segment where Bill Nye the Science Guy 'debated' Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) over the recent string of severe weather events and Climate Change. There was a lot of pre-emptive disparagement here at Daily Kos and elsewhere, but watching the actual segment, it turned out to be better than I expected. (If you watch it several times, you get a better appreciation of the job Nye did - and how disingenuous Blackburn's arguments really are.)

Here's the link to the video again - for some reason it does not seem to embed here.

And, here's a link to the NBC summary of the segment, again with the video which does not want to embed here.

EDIT - thanks to New Minas for finding this on Youtube.

       Blackburn's arguments were practiced and polished; she's been working this schtick for some time; Nye started out a bit hesitant, but became stronger as it progressed. Blackburn's position was predictable and repetitive: Nye's an engineer not a climate scientist (and neither is she), scientists disagree, there's no consensus, we have to look at cost-benefits, the President's executive actions ignore that Congress has said no - all the while with a smile on her face that seemed completely at odds with the seriousness of the issue. At one point she tried to say that going from 320ppm to 400ppm CO2 was really small; Nye called her out on it - a 30% increase is NOT small. Blackburn used just about all of the standard conservative talking points and kept rehashing them. (It's not real, there's no consensus, it's not proven, there's nothing to be done, we can't afford to do anything, yadda, yadda, yadda._

Marsha Blackburn (R-TENN) on Meet The Press 2-16-2014
       Nye was deliberately lower key and more sober; he made the point that while he was not a climate scientist, you didn't have to be to look at all the evidence that has been accumulated to know this is real. ("You don't need a PhD in Climate Science to know what's going on.") He made the point several times that "we need to be doing everything all at once" to address climate change. He called out the fossil fuel industry for trying to spread doubt. He made the deliberate point that he's an American and a patriot - and he really wants to see America lead on this issue. He mentioned we should be developing technology to cope with Climate Change, creating jobs and exports. He was actually trying to come up with answers; Blackburn was just trying to keep the discussion from going anywhere. The camera work was interesting - I got the impression more than once that while the screen cut to just Blackburn and Gregory, you could see just enough of Nye to get the impression he kept shaking his head at some of her remarks.
Bill Nye on Meet The Press 2-16-2014
     David Gregory proved to be a surprise - more than once he challenged (if obliquely) Blackburn's assertions. The segment began not just with the recent snow and ice storms, but also a look at the drought in California and the wide scale flooding in England. (It also included Al Roker equivocating on the issue, alas.) It should be noted that NBC is labeling this as "Flurry of Storms: A Result of Climate Change? Scientist Bill Nye and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., discuss the politics of weather emergencies and climate change." The discussion continued afterwards with the panel section of the show. While the usual idiocy was on display, there were a few signs that reality is finally starting to be acknowledged. No one seemed to have any optimism that political gridlock on this was going to break soon.
David Gregory, host of NBC Meet The Press
   President Obama's remarks in California on the drought were mentioned. Secretary of State John Kerry's speech in Indonesia on Climate Change was also brought up, if not quoted at any length. It's now permissible to talk about the billions of dollars weather events are costing us - if not the trillions of dollars the climate change deniers are fighting to protect in fossil fuel assets they want to see burned. If the administration keeps this up, the media might finally begin paying more attention to Climate Change - if only because they can see it as the latest political football to kick around. Given the weather forecasts over the long range though, I suspect they're going to have to take it more seriously than that.

    That's the thing about Climate Change. We can either choose to deal with it - or IT will deal with us.

3:41 PM PT: UPDATE: And it just happens that NBC news tonight is doing a story on just how expensive the weather is proving to be, not to mention the problems with the aging power grid. Whoa! They've actually noticed Japan, northern India and the U.K. are having weather issues too!

And now they're pulling up Climate Change as a factor behind this, plus a quote from John Kerry's remarks!

Could it be Climate Change is starting to shift the media narrative at last?

6:28 PM PT: UPDATE 2 I'm seeing a lot of positive comments about the debate, but also a certain number of people disappointed and/or disgusted that Bill Nye was the spokesman, that Blackburn was given a platform, that NBC treated Climate Change as a political issue and not a settled matter, and so on.

Try this: google "Bill Nye Marsha Blackburn" and look at all the buzz this generated. Look at the discussions going on elsewhere. Yes, maybe there were better ways to handle this and people it would have been better to have on the air - but Nye got some important messaging out and is generally getting some pretty good reviews. Considering how hard it has been to get anything in front of the American people, or to get the media to pay attention to Climate Change, this is good news, dammit! It just might make it easier to get those 'serious authorities' on the air next time around, especially if the media sees it gets attention.

You want to complain about what Meet the Press did? Contact them and tell them what you want to see. Let them know they got your attention for once. They just might do better.

Write your Congresscritters - ask them why they're letting a know-nothing like Blackburn speak for Congress on this. Thank Bill Nye for daring to speak out - or would you rather be on the side of these guys?

Mon Feb 17, 2014 at  8:18 AM PT: UPDATE 3 24 hours later, this is still bouncing around the intertoobz. For the most part Bill Nye is getting plaudits despite a stumble or two (He said Antarctic while holding up a picture of the Arctic - but then both poles are losing ice so he wasn't entirely wrong.) Blackburn is getting fact-checked all over the place, except in the conservative media swamp, of course. (They really do live in a different universe). This diary got promoted on Facebook by Kos, which is only adding to the fun.

And Charles P. Pierce has weighed in this morning with his usual sardonic flair.  

This week, a Very Special Episode of How We're Fked As A Species.

Centuries from now, when the several remaining humans are huddled around a dwindling fire and pondering how each of them will kill the others and eat their still-warm flesh, the most boring among the remnant will pose the question, "Who is to blame for all of this?" Someone will mention the Koch Brothers. Someone else will bring up BP, and maybe our old friend, the Keystone XL pipeline will get a moan-out while the silent one in the corner sizes up the available rocks and studies the heads of his companions. If I'm not around, I hope at least one of them will summon up his last remaining breath and say, "The noodlebrained bag of useless flesh named David Gregory," before collapsing in a heap in the corner, whence he will awaken an hour later to find one of his companions sizing up his quadriceps for a light snack.

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 02:17 PM PST.

Also republished by SciTech and Three Star Kossacks.


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