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Joe Bastardi / Nov. 9, 2015

Some Questions for Bill Nye Six Years After Our 'O’Reilly Factor' Debate

This article caught my eye, since, during the last El Niño, I was on "The O'Reilly Factor" debating Bill Nye (Feb. 2010): "Bill Nye demolishes climate deniers: "The single most important thing we can do now is talk about climate change." ... At the end of our debate, I challenged Bill to a grand experiment, something a man of science like him should love. I put forth an idea on where the temperature would go by 2030. I opined it would return to the level, as measured by the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), it was in the late 1970s when we began recording real-time temperatures.

This Salon article caught my eye because during the last El Niño I was on “The O'Reilly Factor” debating Bill Nye (February 2010):

A quick aside: There are numerous rebuttals to Bill, an example of which is by Dr. Roy Spencer that you can see here. Spencer happens to have a PhD in meteorology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

At the end of our debate, I challenged Bill to a grand experiment, something a man of science like him should love. I put forth an idea on where global temperatures would go by 2030. I opined it would return to the level, as measured by the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), it was in the late 1970s, when we began recording real-time temperatures.

You may have noticed over the years Bill’s increasingly shrill tone on this matter. I haven’t followed his career all that much, though I knew before I debated him that he and I did not share the same opinion on global warming. My kids, then 14 and 11, pointedly told me I was in essence debating a man as beloved as Santa Clause and that I should be “nice.”

I want you to read the whole article above. Here is a man who never responded to my challenge now saying this:

Part of the solution to this problem or this set of problems associated with climate change is getting the deniers out of our discourse. You know, we can’t have these people — they’re absolutely toxic.

Is this the way a man of science speaks? Label people who disagree with him as toxic? Then again, in spite of obtaining a degree in engineering from Cornell, the fact is he is not a man of science. He is an actor. That is his profession. We shared the same math and physics classes as a foundation for the core of our majors, but the big difference is that I have worked almost 40 years in meteorology and made history a foundation of my forecasting methodology, while he has become an actor. A person with science as his driving motive does not refer to people who disagree with him — such as these 30,000 degreed scientists, over 9,000 of whom have PhDs — as “toxic.” Only a man with other motives would seek to isolate, demonize and destroy those who disagree with him — something you see out of the Saul Alinsky book Rules for Radicals, which I have read. It is summed up nicely here.

Please read Saul Alinsky’s rules and ask yourself: Is that not what is being used and personified by Bill Nye?

This year another El Niño is spiking global temperatures, so I will challenge Bill to confront three simple facts.

1.) Please explain the lack of linkage between CO2 levels and temperatures in the established geological record of the earth. It’s easy to not see the linkage here.

2.) Since the debate, NCEP real-time temperatures reveal that, following the last El Niño spike, temperatures fell, just like they did after the previous El Niño in 2006-2007.

3.) As stated, we are in another period of increased warming. Since Bill won’t take part in the grand experiment I suggested, perhaps he can tell us where global temperatures, as measured by NCEP data, will be one, three or five years from now.

To help him out, I have it warmer next year at this time than now, colder than 2016 in 2017 and temperatures in 2018 and/or 2019 at or below their lowest point in 2012. 

If Bill concedes my point and actually makes a forecast, rather than calling people like me toxic for challenging him, then he will be saying that the 14-year period ending in 2019 would have no temperature rise and even a fall! That would mark over 20 years with no rise. Given the increase of CO2 of 1.8 ppm a year, that would mean we increased carbon dioxide levels close to 10 percent since the late ‘90s, but with no increase in temperatures.  

If he says the ensuing years will be warmer, then finally we’ll have him on record — even though temperatures fell without him participating in the original challenge in 2010 — and we can see who is right and wrong, as I have to do every day in my job. Apparently, no such standard exists for actors masquerading as scientists. If he challenges the scale, then he challenges NCEP. By doing so, he implies that its system for measuring temperatures — something essential for model initialization — is wrong. If so, then Congress, instead of investigating climate skeptics under RICO statutes, should investigate NCEP for all the money it has spent developing models that, according to Bill, are wrong. (Note the sarcasm. NCEP temperatures, the gold standard of real-time temperatures in my opinion, are just fine.)

So to reiterate these three simple points:

1. Explain why there’s no linkage in the entire known CO2-temperature history of the planet.

2. Explain the lack of warming in real-time temperature data and why I have been right so far.

3. Make your forecast. You claim to be a leader yet refuse to take a stand. Instead you sit in the stands and never allow what you are saying to be verified. What kind of science is that?

There’s no need for another debate, though, for as Bill so eloquently says, "Part of the solution to this problem or this set of problems associated with climate change is getting the deniers out of our discourse.“

Real nice, eh? Let’s silence free speech and thought while we’re at it!

I am not looking for another debate, since he has not answered the original challenge I set forth. I want his forecast! Put up or shut up. 

I don’t think any of this is toxic except to someone who refuses to confront simple realities and instead makes statements much more in line with an agenda-driven zealot than a man of science who’s in pursuit of the correct answer no matter where it leads him.


Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.

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