With a rough 2016 officially behind us, and a foreboding 2017 ahead, maybe we all need a good dose of 1990's nostalgia. This Spring, Bill Nye will make his long-awaited return to our screens with his new Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World.
The Science Guy and his band of correspondents—model Karlie Kloss, Xploration Outer Space host Emily Calandrelli, comedians Joanna Hausmannm and Nazeem Hussain, and Veritasium host Derek Muller—will explore some of the most complex scientific topics of the day, from climate change, vaccines and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
While Netflix first announced the show in late August, Nye's comeback seems all the more fitting with Donald Trump's presidential inauguration this Jan. 20.
"Each episode will tackle a topic from a scientific point of view, dispelling myths, and refuting anti-scientific claims that may be espoused by politicians, religious leaders or titans of industry," Netflix stated in a press release.
Trump, as any EcoWatch reader knows, is just about as anti-science as it gets. The president-elect has plans to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, undo President Obama's signature Clean Power Plan and other environmental initiatives, and has nominated an entire cabinet of fossil fuel "puppets" and executives.
'Shockingly Stupid': Trump to Eliminate NASA Climate Research https://t.co/6lqKg19UWr @tcktcktck @OneWorld_News— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1480042818.0
Nye came to fame in the 1990s as the host and creator of Bill Nye the Science Guy. The bowtie-wearing educator taught his young audience about the joys and importance of science and engineering.
We doubt that Trump will be streaming the new show, but Nye does intend to appeal to a wide audience.
"Since the start of the Science Guy show, I've been on a mission to change the world by getting people everywhere excited about the fundamental ideas in science," he said in the press release.
"Today, I'm excited to be working with Netflix on a new show, where we'll discuss the complex scientific issues facing us today, with episodes on vaccinations, genetically modified foods and climate change," he added. "With the right science and good writing, we'll do our best to enlighten and entertain our audience. And, perhaps we'll change the world a little."
Give me clean, beautiful and healthy air - not the same old climate change (global warming) bullshit! I am tired of hearing this nonsense.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2014
Since Science Guy came off the air in 1998 after five seasons, Nye has made numerous appearances on television shows and online videos as a science commentator and outspoken environmental advocate.
Earlier this year, the educational icon famously bet climate change denier Marc Morano $20,000 that 2016 will be among the hottest on record and that this decade will be record hot. Morano turned down the bet, claiming that it's "obvious" that scientific data will show warming, implying that the data would be doctored.
2016, of course, is officially the hottest year ever recorded, scientists have determined.
Top Climate Denier Turns Down $20k Bet From Bill Nye https://t.co/yp6aqrQwYk @climate_rev @BraveNewClimate
— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) April 13, 2016
In an interview with Huffington Post Live, Nye explained that "GMOs are not inherently bad. We are able to feed 7.2 billion people, which a century and a half ago you could barely feed 1.5 billion people and [it's] largely because of the success of modern farming."
However, Nye cautioned that introducing new organisms into the ecosystem can have "unintended consequences."
"My take on it now is genetically modified food is actually, in general—genetically modified plants, in general—are not only not harmful, they're actually a great benefit. However, you can't just go planting enormous monocultures and killing everything and expect the ecosystems to take it," he said.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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