It’s been more than 20 years since “Bill Nye the Science Guy” hit the airwaves, but its host is not close to being done with science. In fact, he’s back to try and save the world.
Nye, perhaps popular culture’s best-known scientist, debuts “Bill Nye Saves the World” Friday on Netflix. The series is geared more toward adults than the PBS show millions grew up watching.
The host sat down with CNN at last month’s South by Southwest conference to explain how he plans on saving a post-fact and post-science planet.
I’ve been telling everyone that I’m going to interview Bill Nye. All of them have been saying, “That’s the guy I learned science from as a kid.”
That’s great. That’s cool.
Is that the greatest legacy of “Bill Nye the Science Guy”?
Yeah, we’ll see what happens, though, when these people are of age and they are voters and taxpayers.
What is your purpose, your mission as one of the most recognizable scientists in popular culture in this alternative fact, post truth world?
There’s a couple things I want. I want people to address climate change. I want clean water for everyone on Earth; renewably-produced, reliable electricity for everyone on Earth; access to the internet, or whatever the future of electronic information is, so that everybody in the world can participate in taking care of the planet.
Science is a complicated subject, but you made it fun. What was the best part about being ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’ and that show?
The thing about science that’s so compelling is it allows you to make predictions. You can know the future because of the process of science. When you go exploring… you’re going to have an adventure. Science and discovery are coupled with adventure. That’s what I love about science, and what I loved about doing the kids show.
Now you have a new show coming out on Netflix, “Bill Nye Saves the World.” Who exactly is the audience?
Grown-ups. Voters and taxpayers. The rating, if it were rated, is PG-13. If we get 13, 12-year-olds watching, 14-year-olds, that’s great. Bring it on. We address big issues facing society from a scientific standpoint, including climate change, space exploration.
Why do it with Netflix?
Well, Netflix came to me with the deal. Netflix approached me. ‘Do you want to do a show?’ Yes. ‘We’ll write you a check.’ Let’s go, man.
Do you still think that you’re going to be able to have the impact on the next generation of kids?
Yes. Here’s what’s happened. People are watching it in schools. They’re watching the old show in schools. Now, I’m engaging this other audience with this other show. I think I have potential to be more influential than ever, to answer your question. You could say, ‘Bill Nye, how can you say such a thing about yourself?’ Well, you’ve got to have goals. I want to change the world. Is that so bad?
So, science is down, but it’s not out.
Science will be back. No, you guys. This is not sustainable. You can’t just pretend stuff’s not happening that’s happening. This just won’t last.
The interview was edited for length and clarity.