In honor of Earth Day, popular TV show host Bill Nye visited UC Irvine to discuss ways to combat global warming and climate change. Nye also called for more awareness of global sustainability, in the UCI Pacific Ballroom of the Student Center on Thursday, April 17.
Nye, best known for his comical approach to science experiments on his television show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” spoke about the straining effects of human activity on the planet in an event sponsored cooperatively by the Office of Research, Dean of Students, Associated Students of UCI, Center for Service and Action and the School of Biological Sciences. Nye admitted that this week’s Earth Day is one of the most important days of the year.
“I remember the very first Earth Day in 1970 and the big concern those days was pollution,” Nye said. “There’s going to be seven billion people trying to live on this planet, and if we don’t change our ways, there’s going to be upheaval.”
Nye emphasized that the rapid increase of carbon dioxide, 0.04 percent in just 12 years, traps infrared rays within the earth’s atmosphere. The Cornell graduate showed a photo of the Upsala Glacier in Argentina taken in 1928; what was once a single sheet of ice spanning miles of the Andes is now a huge lake with snow only at the top of the mountains. Nye reminded students that every decision affects people and ecosystems worldwide.
“The hardest thing to understand about global warming and climate change is that everything you do affects everyone else,” Nye said. “It’s a very hard idea to accept.”
Nye remained optimistic about future solutions for global warming, a hot topic much discussed by the remaining presidential candidates. “At every opportunity, conserve a little more. Take a chance to do more with less.”
This idea of “more with less” was a common theme of the night, especially with Nye’s support of hybrid technology for automobiles. He argued that the idea of hybrid cars is not too futuristic for car manufacturers and consumers to embrace. The proposal should be considered the ideal option of drivers in light of growing gasoline prices and congested freeways, according to Nye.
“Hybrids are the first thing we should do,” Nye said. “If everyone’s car got four times the mileage, we could make very different decisions with our society, with our military, with everything.”
In 1996, General Motors attempted to eliminate gasoline dependency in automobiles with the production of the EV1, a two-seat compact sports car aimed to become a family’s second car, Nye said. The EV1 was only available for a lease of $399 a month for three years, according to a report by the New York Times. In 2003, the entire program was aborted due to both the weight of the batteries and the distance of the charging stations. All EV1 vehicles were revoked and subsequently destroyed, including the one belonging to Nye.
Nye, who at the time was a consultant to GM for the EV1’s development, still remains critical of their decision to abandon the project. “They just didn’t believe in it, in this ‘hippie’ technology. Those corporate pigs just made bad decisions.”
He also provided experimental ideas about alternative forms of transit to move away from the internal combustion engine. Nye proposed an underground network of tunnels where bicyclists, like motorists, could cycle on long roads constructed to force tail winds through the tunnels to assist cyclists with their ride.
Nye also reminded students of the economic opportunity that comes with the invention of green products and challenged the public to improve battery, wind and nuclear power sources.
After the end of his hit PBS television series “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” Nye continued with “The Eyes of Nye.” The show was aimed at older audiences and was concerned with both scientific and political topics such as race, agricultural modification and global warming.
“I thought it was great that Bill Nye answered questions that affect us everyday,” said Alexi Antoniou, a fourth-year political science major.
“Let’s change the world,” Nye concluded in an interview with the New University. “We’ve got to change the world. And as soon as you say to yourself that the track is too daunting and you can’t do it, it won’t be done.”