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Do you know better than a scientist? No — here’s why

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This episode of Inquiring Minds, a podcast hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas and best-selling author Chris Mooney, also features a discussion of the scientifically problematic exclusion of the elderly from clinical trials for new drugs, and a bizarre viral spoof article claiming that solar panels are draining the sun's energy (seriously).  To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to Inquiring Minds via iTunes or RSS. We are also available on Stitcher and on Swell. You can follow the show on Twitter at @inquiringshow and like us on Facebook. Inquiring Minds was also recently singled out as one of the "Best of 2013" on iTunes — you can learn more here. Remember "Climategate"? It was the …

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Neil deGrasse Tyson destroys climate denial in this new video

For 11 episodes now, the groundbreaking Fox and National Geographic Channel series Cosmos 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 prime-time 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.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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John Oliver and Bill Nye show why cable news climate “debates” are so ridiculous

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For over a decade, people like me have been explaining why so-called "balanced" coverage -- in which journalists devote "equal time" to both sides of a "controversy" -- is totally inappropriate when it comes to climate change. But many in the mass media,  especially cable shows, have continued to regularly host climate "debates" in which one skeptic debates one climate science defender … or, lately, in which one skeptic debates Bill Nye the Science Guy.

That's what made John Oliver's climate segment last night, on his new HBO show Last Week Tonight, so perfect. Not only did Oliver explain why there's no debate at all over global warming; he then demonstrated what an actually appropriate televised debate might look like. Bill Nye appeared on set, as did a climate "skeptic," but then 96 other scientists appeared at Nye's side (hilariously crowding onto the set) while their opponent got two additional supporters. These numbers -- 97 and three -- were based on a now-world famous study of published climate science papers, showing that 97 percent of studies that took a stand on whether humans are warming the planet said the answer is "yes."

This story was produced as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Bill Nye keeps fighting the good fight, debates climate change on CNN

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CNN

Thanks to the Obama administration's high-profile rollout of the National Climate Assessment, climate change was, for a day yesterday, the nation's leading story. Different media outlets approached it in different ways, but when it came to CNN's Crossfire … well, not surprisingly, the show opted for a debate about the science.

The result was a lot of sound and fury, but at least the debater on the side of reality -- Bill Nye the Science Guy -- gave as good as he got. Nye was up against not only conservative host S.E. Cupp, who said the White House was engaging in global warming "scare tactics" and accused "science guys" of attempting to "bully other people," but also Nick Loris of the Heritage Foundation. Loris acknowledged that humans are responsible for "some part" of the changing climate and claimed that "I'm not a denier, I'm not a skeptic," but he also asserted that "we've had Arctic ice, globally, increasing" (not!) and that "we've had this 16-to-17-year hiatus in warming." (Actually, the notion that global warming is "slowing down" is very misleading.)

"Let's just start with, we don't agree on the facts," Nye said to Loris and Cupp. "This third report [the National Climate Assessment] came out, saying it's very serious. You say, 'No.' Right? There's the essence of the problem."

Watch it:

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Finally, Neil deGrasse Tyson and “Cosmos” take on climate change

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Fox/National Geographic

If you've been reading my semi-regular dispatches about the Fox and National Geographic series Cosmos—far and away the most rational show on television—then you know that for some time, I've been not-so-subtly predicting that the program was going to tackle the scientific issue of our time, climate change. It seemed to me that in order to be true to the legacy of Carl Sagan, a man who epitomized the quest to use science to solve humanity's problems, you simply couldn't avoid this topic.

And sure enough, last night, it happened (watch here).

Read more: Climate & Energy

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How to convince conservative Christians that global warming is real

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This episode of Inquiring Mindsa podcast hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas and best-selling author Chris Mooney, also features a discussion of recent findings that laboratory mice respond differently to male researchers, and new breakthroughs in "therapeutic cloning," or the creation of embryonic stem cell lines from cloned embryos.

To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to Inquiring Minds via iTunes or RSS. We are also available on Stitcher and on Swell. You can follow the show on Twitter at @inquiringshow and like us on FacebookInquiring Minds was also recently singled out as one of the "Best of 2013" on iTunes -- you can learn more here.

Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian, has had quite the run lately. A few weeks back, she was featured in the first episode of the Showtime series The Years of Living Dangerously, meeting with actor Don Cheadle in her home state of Texas to explain to him why faith and a warming planet aren't in conflict. (You can watch that episode for free on YouTube; Hayhoe is a science adviser for the show.) Then, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people of 2014; Cheadle wrote the entry. "There's something fascinating about a smart person who defies stereotype," Cheadle observed.

Why is Hayhoe in the spotlight? Simply put, millions of Americans are evangelical Christians, and their belief in the science of global warming is well below the national average. And if anyone has a chance of reaching this vast and important audience, Hayhoe does. "I feel like the conservative community, the evangelical community, and many other Christian communities, I feel like we have been lied to," explains Hayhoe on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast. "We have been given information about climate change that is not true. We have been told that it is incompatible with our values, whereas in fact it's entirely compatible with conservative and with Christian values."

Read more: Climate & Energy

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How to use the Bible to save the planet

Niko Tavernise/Paramount PicturesTwo views of what "dominion" means in the Book of Genesis: Noah's (Russell Crowe), and that of Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone). For a brief moment in Darren Aronofsky's hit religious epic film Noah, we see the Great Flood from space. From that vantage point, it looks much like an atmospheric event of the sort that a NASA satellite might photograph, so we can all share it on Facebook. So what does biblical cataclysm look like from orbit? Beautifully, and yet terrifyingly, the entire Earth appears to be draped in a quilt of hurricanes, each cyclone nestled alongside the next. "There …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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If you were watching “Game of Thrones,” you missed Neil Tyson’s solution to global warming

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Fox

Last night's episode of Fox's Cosmos series didn't seem political or controversial, at least on the surface. Rather, it introduced us to the world on the molecular and atomic scale, at one point venturing inside of a dewdrop (packed with extremely cool tiny organisms like tardigrades) and, later, inside of a plant cell. It was kind of reminiscent of what you learned in your ninth grade bio class -- albeit much less sleep inducing.

Yet fresh from ticking off creationists, this time around host Neil deGrasse Tyson managed to work in the science of climate change.

Plants, after all, are the reigning global masters of clean energy. They use 100-percent solar power: The chloroplast, the so-called "powerhouse" of a plant cell, is a "3-billion-year-old solar energy collector" and a "submicroscopic solar battery," as Tyson put it. Basically, chloroplasts use sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to store energy in sugars, and give off oxygen as a byproduct. And without this fundamental green energy technology, life on this planet as we know it wouldn't exist.

Cosmos tours the happenings inside a dewdrop, and within the cells of plants.
Fox
Cosmos tours the happenings inside a dewdrop, and within the cells of plants.

That's where Tyson brought up climate change. Here's how he put it:

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Only 28 percent of Fox News climate segments are accurate

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According to a Pew study released last year, 38 percent of U.S. adults watch cable news. So if you want to know why so many Americans deny or doubt the established science of climate change, the content they're receiving on cable news may well point the way.

According to a new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, misinformation about climate science on cable news channels is pretty common. The study found that last year, 30 percent of CNN's climate-related segments were misleading, compared with 72 percent for Fox News and just 8 percent for MSNBC. The study methodology was quite strict: Segments that contained "any inaccurate or misleading representations of climate science" were classified as misleading.

In 2013, 14 Fox News segments referencing climate science were entirely accurate whil 36 continated misleading statements. In 2013, 121 MSNBC segments referencing climate sciene were entirely accurate while 11 contianed misleading statements.
In 2013, 14 Fox News segments referencing climate science were entirely accurate while 36 contained misleading statements. Meanwhile, 121 MSNBC segments referencing climate science were entirely accurate while 11 contained misleading statements.

By far the worst performer was Fox (this is hardly the first study to associate this channel with sowing reams of doubt about climate change). Notably, the UCS report found that "more than half" of the channel's misleading content was due to The Five, a program where the hosts regularly argue against climate science. For instance, Greg Gutfeld, one of the show's regular co-hosts, charged on Sept. 30 that "experts pondered hiding the news that the Earth hadn't ... warmed in 15 years, despite an increase in emissions. They concluded that the missing heat was trapped in the ocean. It's like blaming gas on the dog if the ocean was your dog." (To understand what is actually going on with the alleged global warming "pause," and why the deep oceans may well explain part of the story, click here.)

You can watch Gutfeld's comments here:

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Is this man the greenest governor in America?

When Jay Inslee was elected governor of the state of Washington in November of 2012, climate campaigners rejoiced. As a congressman, Inslee had a top-tier environmental record, and not just that: He knew climate and clean energy issues inside-out. The coauthor of the 2007 book entitled Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean Energy Economy, he also worked closely on the 2009 passage of cap-and-trade legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and was a cofounder of the House's Sustainable Energy Caucus. No wonder that upon his election in Washington, the League of Conservation Voters declared that Inslee was poised to become "the greenest governor in the country."

Sure enough, Inslee's term got off to a great start: Last October, he joined the governors of Oregon and California and the premier of British Columbia in endorsing the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy which pledges that those states (or, in B.C.'s case, that province) will set a consistent price or cap on carbon dioxide emissions (something California and British Columbia have already done), adopt low-carbon fuel standards, and more.

But there's just one problem: Shortly after Inslee's election, two Democrats elected to caucus with the Republican minority in the Washington state Senate, thus thwarting what otherwise would have been a Democratic majority in both houses. Instead of holding a 26-23 majority in the Senate, Democrats instead became a de facto 25-24 minority. And that razor-thin edge in the Washington state Senate is currently blocking Inslee from achieving many of his objectives.