No Network Found: What Bernie and Bill Didn’t Discuss

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has long been one of the strongest voices for aggressive action on climate change on Capitol Hill, and Bill Nye has long been one of the strongest advocates for pro-science policy in the United States, so it was quite disappointing that their recent Facebook Live discussion about the need to take bold action to reduce carbon pollution was so short on substance.

It was quite sad to see Nye continue to peddle the bogus notion that with enough evidence, Donald Trump can change his mind about the importance of combating the climate crisis. Why do some pro-science people continue to hold on to this profoundly naive worldview? Donald Trump does not and will never care about the health of the world his youngest child will inherit. There is literally no amount of evidence that could convince Trump to change his mind. The economic benefits of reducing carbon pollution mean absolutely nothing to him. He is impervious to facts, impervious to logic, impervious to reality.

Nye promoted the Solutions Project, co-founded by Mark Z. Jacobson of Stanford University, which explains how America can be fully fossil-free by 2050. However, Nye failed to make the point that America will never be fossil-free so long as large segments of the American electorate continue to vote for those who think human-caused climate change is just a big hoax. Even if you could convince the folks who voted for Trump in 2016 that climate change is a pressing problem, they would still have to consider alternate political routes they next time they head to the ballot box–and it seems that many voters are too set in their right-wing ways to ever do so.

Sanders was OK, but he strangely failed to emphasize the importance of expanded mainstream media coverage of the climate crisis. Sanders and Nye faulted the role of the Fox News Channel in spreading climate disinformation, but the Vermont Senator–who has, in the past, called out the Fourth Estate for its refusal to pay proper attention to the threat of carbon pollution–did not reaffirm the need for mainstream-media entities to pick up where, for example, Mark Phillips of CBS News left off in terms of comprehensive coverage of the most important threat facing our world. It is long past time for the press, particularly broadcast and cable entities, to stop cowering under the table in fear of being called “liberal” for reporting scientific facts, which are not partisan.

Speaking of scientific facts that are not partisan, it was also interesting that neither Sanders nor Nye brought up the effort by veteran GOP operatives to compel the “Gas and Oil Party” (as Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey puts it) to support a federal carbon tax as the “market-based” alternative to the carbon regulations Trump intends to roll back. They could have noted the hypocrisy of former ExxonMobil CEO-turned-Secretary of State Rex Tillersonand current ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods both officially endorsing a carbon tax as the ideal way to address climate change, despite the fact that the fossil-fuel behemoth has undermined state-level efforts to price carbon. They could have also highlighted the courageous efforts of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to hold ExxonMobil accountable for its decades of deception on the climate crisis. So much more could have been done, so let’s hope Sanders’s next climate conversation on Facebook Live is a little more lively.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.