Neil deGrasse Tyson Infuriates Climate Change Deniers

Astrophysicist and host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Neil deGrasse Tyson infuriated climate change deniers on Sunday when a climate change-focused episode of Cosmos was aired on Fox and the National Geographic channel on Monday. Cosmos is no stranger to stirring up controversy among certain sectors of the population who disbelieve climate change, the Big Bang, and evolution, all subjects that the show, originally created and hosted by Carl Sagan, has now touched upon.

The 13-episode series will conclude this coming Sunday by airing Unafraid of the Dark, and has seen remarkably high viewership. The climate change episode tied ABC’s The Bachelorette in ratings among advertisers’ “key demographic,” young adult viewers. Tyson notes that the most important fact is that although “the ratings are exceeding our expectations,” the show demonstrates that science is “trending in our culture.”

Tyson made an important distinction in Sunday’s episode between weather and climate change. Certain infuriated deniers have attempted to refute climate change pointing to weather patterns, corrected by the host in Sunday’s Cosmos episode. One of the more infamous examples of this sort of denial was Donald Trump’s tweet earlier in the year which included the statements “Our planet is freezing … our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”

Tyson used a visual analogy to distinguish between short-term weather patterns and long-term trends in climate change by walking his dog on a beach. In the analogy the leashed dog is weather and Tyson is climate, comparing the meandering pooch as weather making short-term erratic changes with Tyson’s consistent path being the long-term trend of a changing climate. This clip in the episode highlights the fact that although winters may continue to be inconveniently cold, at least for now, climate change is predicted by major scientific research conducted by institutions such as NASA and the World Meteorological Organization to have very serious ramifications in the not-so-distant future.

The dog on the beach analogy was a simple reminder of the distinction of weather and climate. The episode beyond that visual was more characteristically expansive in its explanation of climate change, looking at the oxygenation of the atmosphere through burgeoning plant life in the Carboniferous period 300 million years ago, and other ancient periods of dramatic climate change including ice ages, continental drift, and asteroid impacts.

“We just can’t seem to stop burning … coal … oil and gas,” Tyson stated in the episode. “If we could, we’d be home free.” The episode began with a trip in the “Ship of the Imagination” to Venus, our sister planet, to review what its runaway greenhouse effect did to the inner solar system planet. The planet is depicted with boiling oceans and “sickening yellow” skies. Tyson’s predecessor Carl Sagan extensively studied the greenhouse effect of Venus, and planetary fates as determined by megaforces.

Tyson appeared on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes the day following Fox’s broadcasting of Cosmos. In the interview, while Tyson affirmed that in the United States people are free to “believe what you want,” the problem is when governance is not “based on objective and verifiable truths.” While last Sunday’s Cosmos episode was predictably infuriating to some climate change deniers, Tyson points to a surefire way to get more people to come around to its acceptance: “People beginning to lose their wealth.”

By Jesse Eells-Adams

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27 Responses to "Neil deGrasse Tyson Infuriates Climate Change Deniers"

  1. Ivan Kirkpatrick   June 9, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Climate change is not really the issue. The climate is always changing. The theory that manmade CO2 is causing global warming is based on unproved and arguably weak data. How much do you want to spend on CO2 reduction only to find out that was not the problem?

  2. Rob   June 9, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Never heard of this Tyson guy.

  3. Bart   June 9, 2014 at 9:22 am

    I can see that some comments come from the infuriated, the disappointed, the surprised, the people who are full of suppositions, or not.

    They mention the common fallacies many have pushed for years on their own uncritical followers, questions long ago addressed by scientists, such as the role of water vapor or clouds, the feedback mechanism that makes CO2 come out of the oceans when the tilt of the Earth heats them, perhaps they will get around eventually to other misleadingly worded trivia about albedo, convection, ocean currents, solar flares or those other short term influences that by themselves are little more than the wagging of the tail of a dog on a leash.

    Watch the man, not the dog.

    The man, the self-made man, is trending hotter.

    Scientists don’t say this to get bigger grants or television shows or because they support a particular politics: they say this because simple arithmetic, simple observations, and simple reasoning that they have in great numbers dedicated their lives to improving point this way.

    So yes, some regions and some times of year in some regions get colder or wetter in the short term as the dog’s nose explores the extreme low side of the leash, attracted by volcanoes or little ocean wiggle lines or sunspots, for a time.

    The man continues on a path paved in coal and oil, burning up the air.

    You’d think that would infuriate people more.

  4. Daniel   June 9, 2014 at 6:42 am

    To anyone out there who still denies that climate change is real, and that mankind has no effect on the climate: THE KING HAS NO CLOTHES……

  5. Amanda   June 9, 2014 at 6:40 am

    One of my best friends studied meteorology, and I have extensive conversations with him regarding this topic. Firstly, if you do not have a degree in this topic, I feel you do not reserve the right to even speak of it. That being said, anyone that denies this is man made, denies that we are on the wrong path is a fool. Your children, and your childrens children will likely see the beginning of the end of this world as we know it. And we can blame no one but ourselves….but as selfish as modren day humans are, what do they care for those they don’t even know yet…

  6. Ivan Kirkpatrick   June 9, 2014 at 5:52 am

    I was disappointed to hear no mention of water vapor as the most prominent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Only CO2 and Methane were mentioned.

  7. Thomas A Hardy   June 9, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Next you’re going to start arguing about “natural levels” of atmospheric lead…

  8. lesliegraham1   June 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    99% of climate scientists agree that the climate’s changed before.
    : )
    Like every time the level of CO2 has changed the climate has changed.
    Every single time.

    • Clive Reynolds (@rupertpupkin4)   June 8, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      “Like every time the level of CO2 has changed the climate has changed.
      Every single time.”

      Correct. And every single time, temperature increases have PRECEDED CO2 increases by hundreds of years. Ice core data doesn’t lie. I don’t suppose Tyson mentioned this :-).

      • valeriebischoffedit   June 9, 2014 at 8:37 pm

        He did mention ice core data. Did you watch the episode? Or were you busy burying your head in the sand?

  9. climatebob   June 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    The coming El Nino should fix the temperature pause.

  10. retard   June 8, 2014 at 9:33 am

    ITS TOO LATE. Retards have doomed us all and for the sake of oil profits. Enjoy your oil profits when we are all in the stone age.

    • David   June 17, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      I hope those greedy lying bastards remembered to pick up their 30 pieces of silver.

  11. Czerny   June 7, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Climate deniers tend to have NO science background and use reports created by oil companies to back up their claims that climate change is a myth.
    Meanwhile 13,000 peer-reviewed (as in scientists checking the reports of other scientists) prove otherwise.
    It’s your choice who to believe, but as for me, I’ll trust the guys who have actual degrees and are educated on the subject over the talking heads who dismiss the reports of the educated people.

  12. oneSTARman   June 7, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    What we need (along with clean energy from wind and solar) are 50 foot tall self replicating machines covering the planet that can ABSORB the CO2 from the Atmosphere and release life-giving oxygen – they are called TREES

    • bryonics   June 8, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Don’t be daft! Those aren’t even man made….

  13. R.D.   June 7, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Too late. We’ve locked ourselves into near term human extinction. Enough warming gases have already been released to guarantee it. There is nothing humans can do now to stop it. But we’ll go down arguing and fighting and denying. Very few have the capacity to comprehend the facts of science, while blind faith in devastating technology is guiding us straight to hell.

  14. Alan   June 7, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    5 July, 2005
    “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant…,” Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails.

    7 May, 2009
    “No upward trend” has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried,” Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails.

    15 Aug 2009
    “…This lack of overall warming is analogous to the period from 2002 to 2008 when decreasing solar irradiance also countered much of the anthropogenic warming…,” Dr. Judith L. Lean – Geophysical Research Letters.

    19 November 2009
    “At present, however, the warming is taking a break.[…] There can be no argument about that,” Dr. Mojib Latif – Spiegel.

    19 November 2009
    “It cannot be denied that this is one of the hottest issues in the scientific community. [….] We don’t really know why this stagnation is taking place at this point,” Dr. Jochem Marotzke – Spiegel.

    13 February 2010
    Phil Jones: “I’m a scientist trying to measure temperature. If I registered that the climate has been cooling I’d say so. But it hasn’t until recently – and then barely at all.”
    BBC: “Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?”
    Phil Jones: “Yes, but only just.”

    “…The decade of 1999-2008 is still the warmest of the last 30 years, though the global temperature increment is near zero…,” Prof. Shaowu Wang et al – Advances in Climate Change Research.

    2 June 2011
    “…it has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008…,” Dr Robert K. Kaufmann – PNAS.

    18 September 2011
    “There have been decades, such as 2000–2009, when the observed globally averaged surface-temperature time series shows little increase or even a slightly negative trend1 (a hiatus period)…,” Dr. Gerald A. Meehl – Nature Climate Change.

    14 October 2012
    “We agree with Mr Rose that there has been only a very small amount of warming in the 21st Century. As stated in our response, this is 0.05 degrees Celsius since 1997 equivalent to 0.03 degrees Celsius per decade.” Source:, Met Office Blog – Dave Britton (10:48:21) –

    30 March 2013
    “…the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade,” Dr. James Hansen – The Economist.

    7 April 2013
    “…Despite a sustained production of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, the Earth’s mean near-surface temperature paused its rise during the 2000–2010 period…,” Dr. Virginie Guemas – Nature Climate Change.

    22 February 2013
    “People have to question these things and science only thrives on the basis of questioning,” Dr. Rajendra Pachauri – The Australian.

    27 May 2013
    “I note this last decade or so has been fairly flat,” Lord Stern (economist) – Telegraph.

    • Bart   June 7, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      Watch the man, not the dog.

      There have been two consecutive flat periods since 1998 of about six years each, both easily explained by the string of some seventeen near-equator volcanic eruptions pushing ash into the stratosphere. The dog tends to be drawn toward the low side of the man by volcanoes of this type.

      Combined with downward ocean phases and downward solar activity, if not for CO2’s greenhouse effect, we ought have been in a record global cold spell. If not for CO2, the dog should have strayed very far toward cold.

      However, we’re not in a record cold spell lasting the better part of two decades.

      We’re in the warmest two decades on record, perhaps the warmest two decades in three thousand years.

      The man is moving uphill toward a much hotter world than our species has ever known, and with much higher CO2, and resultant ocean acidification, and even bizarre effects on plant and microbial metabolism.

      The past sixty years, the sharpest rising significant period of global temperature we know of, has had six similar flat periods just like the last two.

      All Alan’s quotes from people who were talking about the dog tell us nothing about the man.

      What tells us about the man is basic physics, experimental evidence, models both analog and digital, observational evidence, and the vast majority, some 98%, of over ten thousand scientific papers that have withstood the strictest scrutiny.

      What the man tells us is we are warming and unsettling the climate by burning carbon.

      The solution is fairly simple: make those who burn carbon pay a fee in reparation to those who live in the climate.

      • lesliegraham1   June 8, 2014 at 4:32 am

        What IS pretty amazing is that global temperatures have continued to rise despite every natural forcing being in the negative.
        Now that the PDO seems to be entering it’s positive phase after being in the negative since the Super El Nino of 1998 temperatures have already risen more rapidly of late with April just past being the new record warmest.
        And of course the emerging El Nino, if it develops to even a mild event, will see the 2010 and 2005 global temperature records smashed by a wide margin.
        Then, of course, the “no warming since 98” nonsense will be dropped and a new “Global warming is good” mantra will replace it.
        It’s so pathetic.

        . .

    • Rick Rollington   June 8, 2014 at 10:25 am


    • David   June 17, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      As for this canard here’s a fairly succinct response from the UK Met Office: “You only need to look at 1998 to see a record-breaking warm year caused by a very strong El Nino. In the last couple of years, the underlying warming is partially masked caused by a strong La Nina. Despite this, 11 of the last 13 years were the warmest ever recorded. Average global temperatures are now some 0.75 degrees C warmer than they were 100 years ago. Since the mid-1970s, the increase in temperature has averaged more than 0.15 degrees C per decade.” “As a result of such fluctuations [El Nino], global average temperature trends calculated over ten year periods have varied since the mid-1970s, from a modest cooling to a warming rate of more than 0.3 degrees C per decade. Similar behaviour is also seen in individual model predictions of future climate change where the long-term warming trend is forecast to exceed 2 degrees C per century. Even then, due to natural variations in climate, we expect to see ten-year periods both globally and regionally with little or no warming and other ten-year periods with very rapid warming. This complex behaviour of the climate system shows why we need to examine much longer periods than ten years if we are to fully understand and quantify how the climate is changing.

      Here’s the big picture:

  15. lesliegraham1   June 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    The last of the climate change deniers (mainly old white conservative anglo-saxon westerners) are looking increasingly imbecilic now that climate change is simply an obvious everyday reality all over the world.
    We don’t have time for their nonsense and myths any longer.


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