Critics are saying Bill Nye “the science guy” and former Vice President Al Gore got their global warming science wrong, citing previously published research.
Back in 2011, Nye and Gore teamed up to show that global warming was real using “a simple lab experiment.” The problem is that such experiments have been discredited by scientists who the say these demonstrations show heat transport, not global warming.
“Although not an accurate demonstration of the physics of climate change, the experiment we have considered and related ones are valuable examples of the dangers of unintentional bias in science, the value of at least a rough quantitative prediction of the expected effect, the importance of considering alternative explanations, and the need for carefully designed experimental controls,” according to a paper by scientists from Tufts and the Technical Education Research Centers.
During a 2011 “24 hours of climate reality” by the Climate Reality Project, a group founded by Gore to sound the alarm on global warming, Nye put together a “Climate Change 101” video which used “a simple lab experiment” to demonstrate how increasing levels of carbon dioxide emissions heat the planet.
Nye’s “simple” experiment involved sealing thermometers inside two identical bottles, which were sealed. To illustrate the effects of increased carbon dioxide on temperature, Nye fits a hose from a CO2 canister into one of the bottles. Both bottles are then placed placed under heat lamps.
“Within minutes you will see the temperature of the bottle with carbon dioxide in it rising faster and higher,” Nye said in his video experiment. “The bottles are like our atmosphere, the lamps are like our sun.”
A paper published in a 2010 edition of the American Journal of Physics found that experiments like Nye’s are “not an accurate demonstration of the physics of climate change.”
These experiments have not just been reproduced by Nye, but by scientists and teachers around the country to illustrate the cause of global warming in a simple, easy to understand way. But they all suffer a fatal flaw: they illustrate “processes related to convective heat transport that plays no role in climate change.”
“All involve comparing the temperature rise in a container filled with air with that of the same or a similar container filled with carbon dioxide when exposed to radiation from the Sun or a heat lamp,” the scientists wrote. “Typically, a larger temperature rise is observed with carbon dioxide and the difference is attributed, explicitly or implicitly, to the physical phenomena responsible for the climate change.”
“We argue here that great care is required in interpreting these demonstrations. … The results arise primarily from processes related to convective heat transport that plays no role in climate change,” the paper continues.
“The greater density of carbon dioxide compared to air reduces heat transfer by suppressing convective mixing with the ambient air,” the scientists continued. “Other related experiments are subject to similar concerns. Argon, which has a density close to that of carbon dioxide but no infrared absorption, provides a valuable experimental control for separating radiative from convective effects.”
Nye’s “Climate Change 101” video is still featured prominently on the Climate Reality Project’s website, along with content that sounds the alarm on global warming and bashes those skeptical that man-made carbon dioxide is warming the planet.
“Take Climate 101 with Bill Nye (the Science Guy) and you’ll be schooled in the scientific fundamentals of climate change in under 5 minutes,” Climate Reality Project’s website reads.
“Separate fact from fiction, and we can end the debate and denial and move on to solutions, together,” the site adds.
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