Bill Nye the Science Guy visited the University of Wisconsin campus to discuss climate change impacts with students Monday at an event hosted by the Wisconsin Union Directorate’s Distinguished Lecturer Series.
The event, “Let’s Talk Climate Change, a Conversation with Bill Nye” was originally scheduled for April 2020 but was canceled due to the pandemic. It started off with a discussion between Nye and Dean of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Paul Robbins and was followed by an audience Q&A.
Around 3,000 people attended the in-person event at the Kohl Center, with a virtual option available as well.
Most students know Bill Nye from his show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” which ran from 1992-1998 and won 18 Emmy awards. He is also an author and host of “Bill Nye Saves the World,” which was released on Netflix in 2017, according to Nye’s website. Nye is also the CEO of the Planetary Society, a non-profit which focuses on astronomy and space exploration, as well as the co-chair of the inaugural March for Science.
Nye explained during the event that he had originally envisioned taking a different path in life — he earned a degree in mechanical engineering and worked at Boeing before he entered show business after winning a Steve Martin look-alike contest and eventually left his position at Boeing.
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Nye’s event kicked off after he ran to the stage while the audience chanted “Bill! Bill! Bill!” to the theme song of “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” after which Robbins opened the discussion.
On the topic of climate change, Nye said that while he tries to reduce his own carbon footprint, he acknowledges making changes is hard, and often times many people aren’t able to implement major lifestyle changes. While the climate change conversation used to be mostly about using less electricity and energy, Nye says innovation is also an important part of the conversation.
“People want to live the way we live in the developed world,” Nye said, “So the idea is not to do less, but to do more with less.”
After the discussion with Robbins, the floor was opened to questions from the audience. Students asked questions about nuclear technology, climate policy, renewable energy and divesting from fossil fuels. Nye stressed the importance of taking many paths to combat climate change.
“I encourage everybody to let go of the idea of ‘what’s the one thing that’s exactly the problem,’” Nye said. “And by that, I mean we have to do everything all at once.”
Before Robbins started the conversation with Nye and moderated the question and answer session, he expressed his own excitement about the event.
“It’s a huge honor for me to be on stage with somebody like Bill Nye,” Robbins said. “It’s like a bucket list moment for me.”