Bill Nye Fails to Rebut William Happer

The following video claims that Bill Nye “destroys” William Happer on climate change. Far from it. Nye’s argumentation is weak, and in places, flat out wrong.

Happer begins:

  • CO2 is not a pollutant; it is natural like water vapor.
  • Plants grow better with more CO2.
  • The Earth has gotten greener due to higher CO2

These are all true statements. Nye responds by accusing Happer of claiming not to understand the rate of change of CO2. While that may be true, Happer did not mention that in this interaction. Nye then says:

You’re doing a disservice by having 1 climate change skeptic and not 97 scientists

Ugh. He immediately goes to the debunked 97% claim. Not a good beginning.

Happer responds:

Science is not like law. You don’t vote on the law of gravity.

This is the first of Richard Tol’s rebuttals to the 97% of scientist claim. Happer goes on to make his case:

Global temperature is rising 2 or 3 times more slowly than the climate models predicted it would.

I’m not sure that this is true, but I do believe the measured global temperature has not increased as quickly as the IPCC models predicted it would. I would expect Nye to rebut this claim with facts, possibly citing a source like the NOAA UAH Satellite Data. Instead:

  • He claims Happer is cherry picking a model
  • He segues into an argument that the excess heat predicted by the models has been absorbed by the oceans
  • He states that the difference between measured temperatures and predictions of the models is only 2%
  • He restates his claim that there is no scientific debate over the degree of man made climate change

To me, it seemed clear that Happer was citing measurements, not an alternate model. If the models are wrong because they didn’t take into account absorption by the ocean, that hardly gives me faith in their correctness. I’m fairly certain that the difference between measured temperatures and the models is more than 2%. Finally, merely stating that there the issue is not debatable is no rebuttal at all. Nye’s argument is all over the map, and he has completely failed to rebut Happer’s claim.

If you want to rebut an argument like Happer’s, it’s simple:

  • In the past 40 years, the average global temperature has risen by about 0.5 degrees Celsius (see the NOAA data linked above).
  • We are adding CO2 at a higher rate now than we were over the last 40 years.
  • Temperature increase lags behind the addition of further CO2.

Therefore, we seem highly likely to see an increase of more than 1 degree Celsius by 2100. The climate models predict 3 degrees. Suppose the actual number is only 2 degrees. That would still cause significant harm, assuming we don’t reduce the rate at which we’re extracting fossil fuels.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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1 Response to Bill Nye Fails to Rebut William Happer

  1. Pingback: Bill Nye’s Climate 101: Better | Jim's Jumbler

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