The Way We Talk About Climate Change Matters, Bill Nye Says
In Mondays puzzle, Nye was the answer to the clue Bill known as the Science Guy. Nye has been used in 204 New York Times crossword puzzles, according to XWordInfo. It has been clued in several different ways, including Bill of the Planetary Society and Former PBS host with a bow tie. It made its first appearance in the New York Times Crossword in 1946, as a clue for American humorist, in reference to Edgar Wilson Nye. Most recently, it appeared in Mondays puzzle, constructed by John Guzzetta. has talked about for decades, both on and off the screen. He starred on Bill Nye the Science Guy, a playful educational show about science basics that aired on PBS and local stations in the late 1990s. Nye, who is now the chief executive of the Planetary Society, knows his role as a science educator is far from over. In big discussions about climate change and Earths future, words are really important, Nye said. He criticized the way in which recent climate conversations have been handled on a global scale. The words are always watered down, he said, pointing to discussions at , a United Nations climate conference. Shifting the language of climate change can be harmful, he said. For example, using the phrase phasing down coal instead of phasing out coal dilutes the meaning and intensity of the conversation about coals effect on the environment. Our future depends on getting the tone right, Daniel Blumstein, a professor at UCLAs Institute of Environment and Sustainability, said. He added that the goal should be to eliminate as many carbon-producing energy sources as possible and replace them with carbon-free ones. While there may be a transition that requires some carbon-intensive energy sources, Blumstein said, the word out connotes a future where coal has no substantial role, where the word down implies we just want to reduce it a bit. When people say humans are likely to be responsible for climate change, thats different from saying its our fault, Nye said. The phrases climate change and global warming are just two sides of the same coin, he said. And while the conversation about the warming planet can feel daunting, Nye believes that everybody should be anxious about climate change. The phrase for instance, can be confusing and polarizing. The term, which was popularized by coal industry groups in 2008, is often understood to refer to coal plants that capture carbon dioxide emitted from smokestacks and bury it underground in an effort to limit global warming. Its important to note that regardless of plant technology, coal mining is a highly polluting practice that often damages streams and other waterways. Global warming has gradually been replaced, in many instances, by climate change, Deborah Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University, said. One disadvantage of the phrase global warming is that it can be taken to mean only increasing temperatures, so other catastrophic effects may not seem connected, Tannen said. Global warming acknowledges the overall trend toward warmer temperatures, but it largely neglects local effects, which are experienced as shifts in extremes, the climate scientist and Harvard professor Marianna Linz said. Those extremes could include heat, but they could also be droughts, floods or tornadoes. Nye said that while taping the show in the 90s, he was concerned about the future of the United States. I still am, he added. People are frightened by climate change, and they should be, Nye said. Its a scary proposition. I chose Bill Nye because his name happened to fit. I hope Nye, with his good math-and-science mind, will understand that crossword construction is sometimes as much a matter of statistics and common letter combinations as aesthetic choices. And his nice short name contains three very helpful letters!