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The former Bill Nye the Science Guy host shared these thoughts while speaking to Salon about his new book, Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World. The book, out Nov. 10, pleads with today's generation to take immediate action on climate change.
During the interview, Nye explained to staff writer Sean Illing that the goal of his new book is to "change the world!":
"Really, that’s what I’m trying to do. Obviously, this book isn’t going to change the world, but it is part of the bigger idea that we all have to think optimistically about this. We’ve got to go into this knowing we have a hard challenge but that we’re going to win this fight, and we’re going to save the Earth for humanity."
However, Nye said that there are big obstacles—namely the GOP climate deniers—that stand in the way of positive change for the environment:
"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. And so part of the message in this book is to get the deniers out of the picture, and along that line—I’ve been saying this a lot the last few weeks as I listen to the Republican debates—maybe one of these people will go out on his or her own, thinking for him or herself, and say, 'You know, I’ve been thinking about this and climate change is a very serious problem. So if I’m president, we’re going to address climate change.'"
When asked why there are misunderstandings about climate change, Nye pointed out that even though 97 percent of climate experts agree human activity causes global warming, it's that tiny percentage of wiggle room that skeptics like to pounce on:
"Well, there’s no question. The biggest myth is that scientific uncertainty, plus or minus so many percent, is the same as doubt about the whole thing. And that’s wrong; that’s patently wrong. And that’s a dangerous confusion. This is one of the big reasons I wrote the book."
Later in the interview, Nye shared his opinion about fracking, discussed the exciting potential of renewable energy and offered solid advice on how you can help make a difference on the planet. However, Nye said that the single most important thing we can all do to make a difference on the environment is actually have a discussion about it:
"My claim is that if we were talking about climate change the way we’re talking about Ferguson, Missouri, or Baltimore or other important issues, we would be getting these things done. We would be solving this problem together. And, look, it’s hard. You’re going to meet people who don’t want to talk about it. You’re going to meet people in denial. You’re going to hear people say, 'I’m not a scientist, therefore I am not going to use my brain.'
But if we continue to talk about it, things will get done. If you want to make a difference, these next few months and the election in general have the potential to become a huge turning point. Not just for the U.S., but for humankind."
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California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
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