Climate change is a topic that's politically charged rather than scientifically charged. Bill Nye offers tips for how those on the side of science can begin to have meaningful conversations with skeptics.
Danny Miller is at odds with many of his friends; they don’t believe in climate change, but he does. It’s a predicament Bill Nye can lend some guidance on; science skeptics and climate change deniers have been one of his longest uphill battles in the public sphere.
So what is Nye’s advice for having meaningful discussions with climate change deniers and perhaps even bringing them slowly around to see reason? Nye admits that public figures who deny climate change have been alarmingly successful at casting doubt over the credibility of science so, as a starting point, it’s important to choose your language carefully. The word 'theory' has lost its integrity in recent years – it seems like anyone these days can have a theory. "I have a theory it’s raining outside," Nye jokes, with a hint of sadness. So understanding and relaying the real definition of the word to people you don’t see eye to eye with can be a crucial tool.
Most people hear the word "theory" and assume it’s an idea or statement in need of proof. A scientist hears the word "theory" and recognizes it as certifiable fact because it’s been proven. A hypothesis is one thing, that’s the first step towards an idea becoming a theory. When a hypothesis is proven, then it is a theory. So climate change theory isn’t a wishy washy idea people can choose to believe in or not; it’s backed by data, and is a concrete concept.
Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.