Bill Nye: My question for the GOP candidates

Updated 7:41 AM EST, Fri February 26, 2016

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Bill Nye: Question for GOP candidates: Do you disagree with world's scientists on climate change because you know better ?

He says 10% of electricity in Texas is from wind. America could build on this, surmount challenge

Editor’s Note: Bill Nye is an Emmy-winning TV host as well as a scientist, engineer, comedian, author and inventor. He is best known to television audiences as “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” Follow him on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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Here’s hoping someone can manage to ask the candidates a question like: “Mr. _______, you’ve stated repeatedly that you feel that climate change and global warming are not things we need to worry about in the short or even long term; why do you disagree with the world’s science community and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?”

Bill Nye
Bill Nye

Then, I’m hoping that the same person or another citizen asks a follow-up: “Mr. _______, would you say that you believe your intuition and experience with weather are more scientifically correct than the research done by the world’s climate scientists, and do you believe that the world’s scientists are part of a conspiracy?”

As you may know, the three front-running candidates are apparently in denial about the effects and seriousness of climate change and global warming. As a voter and taxpayer, I’d like to know why each of them has no apparent concern about a problem that is worrying people all over the rest of the world. And by the way, those same people are very much hoping the U.S. will lead, showing the way to produce all of our energy renewably.

Texas is a remarkable example of the number of jobs we could create and the new economy we’d establish by embracing renewable energy sources. Right now, Texas gets 10% of its electricity from the wind. I hope you find that remarkable, if not astonishing, because it’s a huge number. The wind industry there is just getting started. The Stanford University-based Solutions Project estimates that Texans could get over 60% of their energy from the wind, and virtually all of the remaining 40% from the sun.

This is the very same state where you can find oil refinery upon oil refinery in and around the Houston area.

Some disclosure: when I was a young engineer, I worked on control systems in the Texas “oil patch,” as it’s called, in Galveston, Victoria, Midland-Odessa and Snyder. I washed my coveralls in the “greaser” machines at the laundromats. I have a sense of the extent of the oil business in this state.

With that said, if citizens were motivated, they could transform the economy in Texas to run not on extraction of oil, with all its messy spills and leaks, and not-so-pleasant smells, but instead on the wind and sun. This would include hundreds of thousands of construction jobs and operations jobs in the Lone Star State.

Texans are fiercely independent. Their state could be the prime example, the shining star showing us a renewable future with an entirely local energy sector. Texas could be the model for where our electricity comes from. Writ larger on the national stage, the wind resources along the United States’ Eastern Seaboard alone could potentially provide a huge fraction of our energy – indefinitely, and the source of the energy itself is free.

There would be no need to import oil from purveyors in the Middle East with whom have deep philosophical, uh… difficulties.

Whenever someone like me makes the case for renewable energy, generally someone on the other side chimes in (or, as I see it, “whines in”) about how difficult it would be to transform our infrastructure, and how expensive it would be, and how long it would take. To those people, and these conservative candidates seem to be among them, I say you’re wrong. Yes we can change everything – I’ll prove it.

Both of my parents were veterans of World War II. My father was a POW for 44 months, almost four years. My mother was a lieutenant in the Navy, a cryptographer working on decrypting the Enigma and Purple codes used by the Axis powers. My parents and their American contemporaries came to be called “The Greatest Generation,” because they pitched in and resolved this war – this horrible global problem – in barely five years.

In those days, everyone got involved in winning the war so they could get back to their lives and loved ones. They changed the world virtually overnight.

Furthermore, my grandfather, my mother’s dad, was in World War I – and he was in combat on horseback! Just 20 years later, no one who was serious about fighting a war did it on a horse. Everything about our transportation system changed – in just two decades.

We can do this. Let’s get going.

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