Neil deGrasse Tyson is Awesome!

‘Not enough people in this world, I think, carry a cosmic perspective with them. It could be life-changing.’
—Neil deGrasse Tyson

When I was in high school, I watched the television series Cosmos with Dr. Carl Sagan and fell in love with science. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t have followed a path that led to my career in medicine if it wasn’t for the inspiration I got from watching that program and reading Dr. Sagan’s books. In fact, the epilogue in my book quotes Dr. Sagan’s words referring to Earth as the Pale Blue Dot. I was very appreciative that Dr. Sagan’s wife Ann Druyan gave me permission to repeat his important words.

But it’s been 35 years since Cosmos was on, and almost years since Dr. Sagan passed away. But the torch has definitely been passed on to another great scientist: Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist and science educator cut from the very same cloth as Dr. Sagan. (The two actually met in 1975, but that’s another story. Google it!) Two years ago NDT hosted the reboot of Sagan’s original inspiring series: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. It provided a new generation with the opportunity to experience the awe and wonder that people like me did back in the ’80s.

Neil deGrasse Tyson has also had strong comments for the media regarding the way they provide false balance in their coverage of scientific subjects like climate change. In his words:

[Y]ou don’t talk about the spherical Earth with NASA, and then say “now let’s give equal time to the flat Earthers.” Plus, science is not there for you to cherry pick…You can decide whether or not to believe in it but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.

Politics and the interests of big business have always played a big part in the misrepresentation of the facts, and of the consensus among the scientific community, and Tyson recognizes that point as well. Back in 2011, he stated that those who deny climate change need “to be mature enough to recognize something can be true even if you don’t like the consequences of it. That’s what it means to be a mature adult.”

We’ve been waiting a long time for another Carl Sagan. Thank goodness we’ve found one with Neil deGrasse Tyson. He was in Toronto last week and I got the opportunity to see meet him in a VIP ceremony afterward. He was warm, gracious, and very funny. His talk went on for two and a half hours and covered the latest in scientific news (gravity waves!) as well as what it will take for our species to thrive during the next millennium (some major changes in attitude, it turns out).

There will never be another Carl Sagan. But thank goodness we have Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Al Gore's Reasons for Optimism

Al Gore has posted three questions about climate change and our future.

Number one: Do we have to change? Each day, our carbon emissions trap the same amount of heat energy as 400,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs. The global warming that arises leads to the extreme weather we’re all witnessing. As Al puts it: “Every night on the TV news now is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.”

Number two: Can we change? We’ve already started (although not quickly enough for most of us) so apparently the answer to that one is yes.

So then, the big question number three: Will we change?

In this challenging, inspiring TED talk that was filmed earlier this month, Al says a resounding yes. As he puts it:

When any great moral challenge is ultimately resolved into a binary choice between what is right and what is wrong, the outcome is foreordained because of who we are as human beings. That is why we’re going to win this.

This 25-minute video is longer than most that I post on my blog, but it’s an important message. If you’d like to watch it, just click on the link.

Okay Climate Change, Now It's Personal!

The post with this video has been retweeted more than any other I have put up on my site. It’s been more than a year since I last posted it, and the latest evidence is that some of our most beloved foods and even more threatened now than they were just a few years ago. I guess when climate change starts to threaten the things we love like coffee, chocolate and wine, people start to stand up and take notice. If you haven’t see this one before, here’s your chance to see why it’s been so popular. Enjoy!

Obama Weighs in on GOP Candidates

President Obama had the opportunity to address his take on the Republican candidates vying for the opportunity to run for President. Particularly he expressed dismay that not one of them acknowledges that climate change is real and something in need of attention. He mentions that much of the world looks to the US to be leaders on issues of science. Sadly that just isn’t the case among these GOP candidates.

Global Warming: Warning the Public is Nothing New

A lot of people think warnings about global warming started in the late 1980s when Dr. James Hansen first addressed Congress about the threats to our planet. But it goes back much further than that—by at least another thirty years in fact!

This clip is from a well known educational documentary entitled “Unchained Goddess” that some of you may have seen when you were in school. It was produced by Frank Capra (“It’s a Wonderful Life”—that Frank Capra!) for Bell Laboratories, specifically for a television show they had on the air back then called “The Bell Telephone Hour.” It was so well done and so well received that it was shown in science classrooms for decades afterwards.

So what? Well it helps show that our scientists have known for generations that our emissions are a threat to our planet. It was at this same time that Keeling and Revelle started to measure carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to accurately measure the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, only to document a steady climb of about two parts per million annually.

Despite what is now very old information, politicians and much of the the public have continued to ignore the ramifications of staying the course with business as usual. Hopefully it won’t take another 50+ years before the world will listen enough to actually make the changes needed to stop this ever-worsening trend.

Here’s a brief clip that illustrates what we really have known for a very long time.