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Bill Nye and Marsha Blackburn debate climate change on NBC's 'Meet the Press'

Bill Nye makes a few remarks at a Celebration Of Carl Sagan at The Library of Congress on November 12, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Bill Nye makes a few remarks at a Celebration Of Carl Sagan at The Library of Congress on November 12, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Yesterday, February 16, NBC’s "Meet the Press" aired a climate change debate between Bill Nye "the Science Guy" and Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. The debate video can be viewed here. Nye, fresh off his televised debate with creationist Ken Ham, stated that the U.S. needs to be a leader in addressing climate change, while Blackburn was skeptical that a climate change, or global warming, problem even exists.

At one point, "Meet the Press" host David Gregory had to interrupt Blackburn to dispute Blackburn’s assertion that “there is not consensus” that greenhouse gas emissions have had a major impact on global warming. "But there is consensus," Gregory responded. "Within the scientific community, there is consensus." In fact, the evidence shows that the Earth is warming, and approximately 97 percent of climate scientists agree that this global warming is related to human activity.

Nye also scolded Blackburn on the consensus issue, stating:

We have overwhelming evidence that the climate is changing. That you cannot tie any one event to that is not the same as doubt about the whole thing.

Later, Nye said:

There is no debate in the scientific community. I encourage the congresswoman to really look at the facts. You are our leader. We need you to change things, not deny what’s happening.”

Blackburn then said that America needs to do a cost/benefit analysis to determine if fighting climate change is worth it. Blackburn did not address what the ultimate costs would be of not taking on climate change with any urgency now. Instead, Blackburn said that we need to be "looking at the benefits of carbon, and what that has on increased agriculture production."

The timing of the "Meet the Press" climate debate was curious, given that it took place in the middle of winter, during some of the worst snowstorms to hit parts of the U.S. in some time. Residents of New York, Washington, DC and other areas hit by the storms naturally might be more focused on the immediate weather outside rather than long-term climate issues. Indeed, a recent study indicated that Fox News only covers the climate change issue during cold spells.

Moreover, Blackburn’s home state of Tennessee is also home to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most popular national parks in the United States. For years, the park has suffered smog conditions which have obscured the mountain views, as a result from coal and other power plant emissions that blow over with the wind from neighboring states.

© 2014 Matthew Emmer -- All Rights Reserved

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