DeGrasse Tyson and Cosmos Will Cap Series with Climate Denial Debunk

May 29, 2014

Chris Mooney in Mother Jones:

For 11 episodes now, the groundbreaking Fox and National Geographic Channel seriesCosmos has been exploring the universe, outraging creationists, and giving science teachers across the nation something to show in class every Monday. In the process, the show has been drawing more than 3 million viewers every Sunday night, a respectable number for a science-focused show that is, after all, a major departure from what primetime audiences are used to.

Cosmos certainly hasn’t shied from controversy; it has taken on evolution and industry-funded science denial, and it has been devoting an increasing amount of attention to the subject of climate change. And apparently that was just the beginning. This coming Sunday,Cosmos will devote an entire episode to the topic. Here’s the episode description from National Geographic:

Our journey begins with a trip to another world and time, an idyllic beach during the last perfect day on the planet Venus, right before a runaway greenhouse effect wreaks havoc on the planet, boiling the oceans and turning the skies a sickening yellow. We then trace the surprisingly lengthy history of our awareness of global warming and alternative energy sources, taking the Ship of the Imagination to intervene at some critical points in time.


Courtesy of National Geographic, above is a clip from the new episode, which should have climate deniers fulminating. In it, host Neil deGrasse Tyson uses the analogy of walking a dog on the beach to helpfully explain the difference between climate and weather (pay attention, Donald Trump) and to outline why, no matter how cold you were in January, that’s no argument against global warming.

We’ve seen the rest of the episode already, and won’t spill the beans. But suffice it to say that it contains some powerful refutations of a number of other global warming denier talking points, as well as some ingenious sequences that explain the planetary-scale significance of climate change. It also contains some in situ reporting on the impacts of climate change, straight from the imperiled Arctic.

To make the point above, DeGrasse Tyson uses a version of the “Trend and Variation” argument made in the viral video below – testimony to the power of a good meme.



18 Responses to “DeGrasse Tyson and Cosmos Will Cap Series with Climate Denial Debunk”

  1. They’re getting a lot better at explaining natural phenomena without dumbing it down. That was key. Concept modeling that matches up with what people actually understand is crucial to this process in science.

  2. miffedmax Says:

    But did Neil DeGrasse Tyson take as many science courses as James Taylor?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      You are joking of course. Tyson has several degrees in physics and astrophysics. Taylor has an undergraduate degree in government and is a lawyer who shills for the Heartland Institute. If he took any science at all, it likely came under the heading of “cultural elective”, and serves only to make him a “well-rounded” charlatan.

  3. omnologos Says:

    Thus demonstrating the futility of James Cameron’s hollywood buddies as purveryors of information

  4. jimbills Says:

    And it’s on Fox, no less – just where it needs to be to reach the right audience.

    ‘Archer’ is one of my guilty pleasures. Here’s a clip in tribute:

    • rayduray Says:

      Something I’ve always appreciated is that the Fox Network is/was the home of “The Simpsons”, “South Park” and “King of the Hill”. All three apparently designed as innocuous and forgettable youthful rebellions against the belief system of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes.

      In the mad, mad world we inhabit, it is Matt Groening, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mike Judge and Greg Daniels who are presenting reality while Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and their ilk are creating the cartoon version of reality for their septuagenarian audience. Thus, George Orwell and Joseph Heller live on as packaged and networked cultural memes.

    • ubrew12 Says:

      For those who haven’t yet experienced deGRASS Tyson in ‘Cosmos on Weed’ (3min):

  5. rayduray Says:

    “Great climate change comedy moments in video clips” from today’s Guardian.

  6. “Our journey begins with a trip to another world and time, an idyllic beach during the last perfect day on the planet Venus, right before a runaway greenhouse effect wreaks havoc on the planet, boiling the oceans and turning the skies a sickening yellow.”

    Well, at least we know which political party won the last election on Venus.

  7. Top rate climate science on Fox. Who’d have thunk it? They even go into the issue of Canfield Oceans. Pretty impressive territory for mainstream media. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop…

  8. lesliegraham1 Says:

    This programme is so dumbed down for the American audience it’s painfull to watch.
    Good for 10 to 12 year olds in Britain and Europe but is this really the standard of science documentaries in the US?!
    If so it explains a lot.

    • rayduray Says:


      I think it is aimed at 10 to 12 year olds here in the U.S. as well. It certainly bored me, unlike the old Carl Sagan Cosmos which I marveled at as an adult.

      • lesliegraham1 Says:

        Yeah – I took the trouble to download the old series and watch them too. Far superior.

        I never heard of him growing up in the UK. I started to see his name appear here and there when I became one of the first 20 million people in the world to access the internet.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Uh, guys? This is not a TV critic site analyzing “Old Cosmos” versus “New Cosmos”. The new Cosmos was directed at an audience that contains far too many adults whose understanding of the science and attitudes towards AGW ARE on the junior high level. IMO, although it may have been a bit “boring” in spots for certain jaded intellectuals, it did a good job overall.

          PS to LG1 Did you help Al Gore invent the internet?

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