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Science educator Bill Nye thinks that President Trump would stand a good chance of being reelected if he embraced the scientific consensus on climate change and started pursuing policies to address it.
In an interview with Yahoo News anchor Bianna Golodryga Friday afternoon, Nye encouraged Trump to think for himself because the people influencing his decision making are “from the old days.”
“If you want to be reelected and if you want to have an eight-year legacy instead of a less than four-year legacy, embrace the future. Consider the electoral map as presented if only millennials voted, and take climate change into account,” said Nye, who is popular among young Americans thanks to his ‘90s TV show “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”
“Embrace the discoveries made by science. Continue to invest in science, if for no other reason than for the sake of the economy.”
A poll from the University of Texas at Austin found that 91 percent of Americans under the age of 35 say climate change is happening. For comparison, only 74 percent of survey respondents 65 or older thought so. Exit polls indicate that if only millennials had voted in bigger numbers in last year’s presidential election, then Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would have won in a landslide.
Golodryga suggested that winning might be the only factor motivating Trump’s actions. She asked Nye whether he thinks embracing the battle against climate change would, in fact, get him another term in the Oval Office.
“Yeah, actually yes. No one’s ever asked the question quite so succinctly, thank you,” Nye said. “The people who deny climate change are almost exclusively old, like me. … And they will age out of the electorate. So if you want to be elected by future voters — people coming of age right now — you’re going to have to embrace climate change and especially you’re going to have to embrace science.”
Nye pointed out that Trump has changed his mind on a variety of issues in the past few years and even months. He said Trump would benefit from dismissing what some of his current advisers are telling him and listening to forward-thinking, younger people who are concerned about the environment and the world that their children and grandchildren will inherit.
Trump has variously said that climate change was a hoax concocted by the Chinese to make the United States uncompetitive in manufacturing and that “nobody really knows” whether it’s real. Neither is true.
Many worldwide scientific organizations and U.S. agencies have released definitive statements affirming that climate change is happening, that it’s primarily the result of human activity releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and that steps should be taken to mitigate the worst consequences.
For instance, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that the evidence of the climate system’s warming is unequivocal.
“Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems,” the panel said in a report.
So far, however, Trump has spurned scientists and environmentalists and embraced the coal, oil and natural-gas industries. During his first few months in office, he acted to relax regulations on energy companies and proposed budget cuts for federal agencies that protect the environment and natural resources. He also signed an executive order (Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth) that essentially starts the process of dismantling former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which limited greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-burning power plants.
A recent Gallup poll found that 59 percent of Americans think that protecting the environment should be prioritized over energy production; 56 percent said that environmental protection should be prioritized over economic growth.
Although the Trump administration often presents environmental regulations as “job killers,” there are studies to show that moving from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy could create millions of jobs. The American Wind Energy Association, a national trade group for the wind sector, announced earlier this week that jobs in wind power grew nine times faster than the overall economy last year.
For Nye, acknowledging the reality of climate change and the legitimacy of scientific evidence would put Trump on track for a positive presidential legacy.
“Climate change is the most serious issue facing humankind, for sure,” Nye said. “I strongly encourage the president to consider that science is universal. It’s for everybody on earth. The climate is for everybody on earth. Space exploration is for everybody on earth. Clean water, renewably produced reliable electricity and access to electronic information [is] for everyone on earth. And then, Mr. President, you could have a remarkable legacy.”
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