Hey Bill Nye! What Can One Person Do to Save the World?

Can one person save the world? This week, Bill Nye finds hope in middle-school student Victoria, who asks what she can do to pull her weight in our current environmental crisis.

Victoria: Hi there Bill. My name is Victoria. I am a middle school student from Washington state. Environment is quite humid right now and it's time to make a change, but a lot of people don't see the threat or they don't want to make a change. My question is how can we to prepare the planet and what actions we can start right now to save the world? I know it's hard but I just hope that you can give some clues. Thank you very much.

Bill Nye: Victoria. Victoria. You are the key to the future my friend. So here's the thing, you live in Washington state. I lived in Seattle for many years. I love Washington. Go Seahawks. I'm right there my friend. Go Mariners. Now, you are in middle school. You are the future. People will tell you that but they're not kidding. So what we want you to do his influence your parents and make sure they vote. Voting is the most important thing for us, especially this year.
And I want your parents - I want you to encourage your parents to take the environment into account when they pick people to vote for. Now you're Governor, Jay Inslee, he's an acquaintance of mine and he's a big environmentalist. He wrote a book, Apollo's Fire, and so on. It's about the future of what people are doing to take care of the environment and have energy produced, electricity especially, renewably without having to burn fossil fuels. So it's up to you to influence your parents. Yes, very important to recycle your plastic and your paper. And also in Washington state, I'm not sure exactly where you live but you can recycle your food waste along with your yard waste and that becomes compost, which nourishes our farms, which in turn produces food, part of the mythic cycle of life. So you can encourage your parents to do that, but we need big ideas, big changes.

In Washington state there's enormous opportunities for wind turbines and enormous opportunities for photovoltaics, for solar cells that take sunlight and make it right into electricity, especially in Eastern Washington. So you can be part of that. And you're in middle school, that is a turning point for most people in their science education. So I hope you, Victoria, will apply yourself in science class, in biology, physics, chemistry, and there's probably another class you might have about planetary science or astronomy or earth science. And the other thing Victoria that is really important, especially for girls, is algebra. And I just want to tell you algebra is this way to think. It trains your brain to think in this way that enables you to imagine things, to accept that you don't know the answer but you're going to find it. And so I really encourage you - I just tell you that I took algebra you just have to practice. There's no way around it. You just got to do it over and over until you get comfortable with it. And you can do it. And by the way when you're a girl in middle school you're kind of better at everything than the boys. Now that will change in the next four or five years; you'll even out. But right now just go with it my friend. Go with it. Make sure you learn algebra and learn science so that you, if you choose to be a scientist or better yet an engineer, which is a profession in which you use science to solve problems and make things, that you can lead the world in these new technologies. But right now do those things at home that make an important difference at home, recycling; not wasting energy; not wasting clean water, and make sure your parents take the environment into account and make sure they vote. Thank you Victoria. Go get 'em!

This week, Bill Nye dishes out some warm and fuzzy feelings (served on a bed of seriousness) through a kind and inspiring response to Victoria, a middle school student from Washington state who is looking for some clues about how to counteract climate change, and make an individual stride towards a better world.

As an immediate and urgent action, Nye encourages Victoria to talk to her parents and express what her concerns and passions are, and ask them to vote in state and federal elections – especially right now, more than ever – for the candidate with correct view on the reality of climate change and a science-literate plan to address the crisis.

In the longer term, Nye says it’s all about Victoria getting the most from her education and really applying herself to her classes, particularly science and algebra, which he says will train her brain into ways of thinking that are crucial to problem-solving should she choose to have a career in science – or even better engineering, taking after Nye himself – where she would be in a position to implement research and positive environmental change.

There is a role model living in Victoria’s state and he just so happens to be the governor, Jay Inslee. Inslee co-authored a book with Bracken Hendricks called Apollo’s Fire, about the future of energy production, and how the world can develop inventive alternatives to fossil fuels. Inslee and Hendricks look at the dreamers who are experimenting with mirrors and liquid metal to squeeze electricity from sunshine, those geniuses who are using waves off the U.S. coast to power appliances, and the entrepreneurs who are leading the charge on batteries that can sustainably run vehicles and one day homes and businesses. It’s an inspirational read for any curious mind and, in the authors' own words, it gives an optimistic view "of a renewed environment; millions of good jobs; and stronger, more secure communities can be the spark that unites a truly common movement."

For those of us out of school, Nye’s message still applies – vote responsibly, educate yourself continuously, take the smallest measures from reducing consumption to recycling correctly, and contribute to big, world-changing ideas in any way you can, whether it’s something you can do directly here and now, or a way you can inspire the next generation to be thoughtful, sharp-minded innovators of the future.

Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.

Photos: Courtesy of Let Grow
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