Lab Notes

Short stories and links shared by the scientists in our community

We need a better spokesperson for the urgency of the climate crisis than Bill Nye

Shared by

Allan Lasser

Co-founder and CTO, Massive Science

You may have seen Bill Nye's tirade against our collective inaction to prevent the worst impacts of climate change on HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. It reminded me of a story I heard recently about a time, not too long ago, when Bill Nye wasn't quite so furious at our inability to pass comprehensive legislation addressing climate change.

The year was 1996 and the place was Epcot, the Walt Disney World Resort theme park. The Universe of Energy, an Epcot pavilion sponsored by ExxonMobil since its opening day, debuted a new educational ride: Ellen's Energy Adventure.

On the ride, Bill Nye teaches Ellen DeGeneres where fossil fuels come from, while riders are transported into an animatronic jungle full of the dinosaurs whose carbonized remains we're burning every day. Then, the pair travel the country to explore how energy is created. While the ride recognizes the potential of solar, wind, and hydropower, Bill and Ellen still spend a lot of time exploring the benefits of fossil fuels. Jump to about the 20 minute mark to see for yourself.

ExxonMobil dropped its sponsorship of the pavilion in 2004. In 2017, the pavilion was closed (but not before its final show broke down and fans of the ride evacuated through the animatronic dinosaur land).

Adding this to the fact that he's not a scientist and his last attempt to save the world didn't really work out, I think we can find a better spokesperson for the urgency of the climate crisis than Bill Nye.