Bill Nye on Memorial Day: WWII Shows We Can Mobilize for Clean Energy

It's a different kind of fight.

by Monica Hunter-Hart
Getty Images / Dave Kotinsky

On Monday, Bill Nye went on MSNBC to discuss some potential repercussions if President Donald Trump withdraws the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. In homage to Memorial Day, he brought up the example of World War II to argue that the U.S. has the ability to once again help incite radical change in the world, this time by committing to renewable energy.

Nye explained that withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement would first of all cause huge damage to the environment, especially since America is the second highest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. It could also significantly hurt the U.S. economy; he described a “backfire” scenario in which other countries that stick with the agreement impose stifling tariffs on American goods.

On the other hand, he spoke of the new jobs that could be created were the U.S. to embrace renewable energy; conservative estimates place the figure at 3 million new jobs in the energy industry, he said.

Then Nye brought up Memorial Day, suggesting that since our nation has been able to successfully mobilize in times of war, we should be able to mobilize for this climate crisis, too.

“There is enough renewable energy available to run the whole place right now if we just changed everything. And today is Memorial Day, and some disclosure, both of my parents are veterans of World War II, they’re both buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and they resolved a world conflict in 5 years. So why couldn’t we change world’s energy economy in 5 years?”

Bill Nye in 2016.

Getty Images / Dave Kotinsky

Humans are often quicker to take action when faced with a violent threat than when faced with an equally dangerous, but further removed, environmental threat.

But if we do manage to get our act together and mobilize, said Nye, “We can get to work, and may I say, save the world.”

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