Is Bill Nye Smarter than a 5th Grader?

MRC screengrab

Post by Ryan Maue

It’s a wonder why the media continue to trot out the likes of Bill Nye and Michio Kaku to speak about climate change and the weather when they already have folks like Al Roker and Sam Champion on the payroll.

For some unknown reason, Bill Nye showed up on Fox News Saturday afternoon to chat with Uma Pemmaraju about tornadoes  Video Link.  The meandering answers by Nye led to many quizzical looks by Uma, who got out of the way, and let Nye demonstrate his meteorological expertise.  One should ask, as Amy Ridenour does in her off-base, satirical videos, is Bill Nye smarter than a 5th grader when it comes to understanding the weather?

And a NPR blogger wonders what motivates Climate Change Deniers?

Jeff Poor, over at the Daily Caller (where Anthony is a contributor), has the transcript:

“Well, it is very difficult to connect tornado to climate change,” Nye said. “They are small even relative to the other big picture. But i will tell you this – last 11 years are the warmest 11 years on record, since the 1800s. And there is 4 percent more water vapor in the atmosphere than has been in the past. Four percent doesn’t sound like a lot but it is a huge amount. And if you think of the Earth as a disk in space just receiving sunlight, and there are on the other of one and half billion BTU [British thermal unit]-worth of heat than there used to be. When you get that much extra heat and water vapor in the air, you are going to have more storms.”

“Notice that the floods that are probably connected to the tornadoes,” he said. “These floods – there is no Katrina or Rita, it just rain rained. When water vapor changed from a liquid to a vapor it gives up heat high in the atmosphere, or medium height in the atmosphere. And that heat up there makes it churn up more and that leads to more storms. Now, people have talked about this for years and everybody, this is serious business. The tornado is very difficult to mathematically connect to climate change. But the rains and extra warmth in the atmosphere, the extra water in the atmosphere, those are the facts. That’s the real deal.

You know, we are patriots, we are from the U.S. – I am,” he said. “And you would like the U.S. to be the leader in addressing this problem. We would like to be out in front in trying to deal with whatever it is that is holding in the heat and creating all of the extra water vapor in the atmosphere. Tornadoes are almost certainly a consequence.

“Well, there is not that many other countries that have the configuration of North America to make the tornadoes,” Nye said. “And the word hurricane is a word coined in the Caribbean. This is a unique area in that regard. We have the Gulf of Mexico and we have this access of cold air from Canada or from the Arctic. And these two things conspire to move the jet stream, and then that helps to carry the extra water vapor over the heart of North America. So, it is unique place. You don’t have tornado in Norway. The weather is set up differently. But here in the U.S., it is a serious problem.”


Bill Nye should just admit he knows nothing about the weather or climate change and let the professionals like Al Roker, Sam Champion, and Michio Kaku explain it to the rest of us.

Climate expert Michio Kaku: “El Niña” or global warming causing snowstorms, or something

Al Roker believes climate change is moving tornadoes into urban areas


newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Villarini, G., et al., 2011. Is the recorded increase in short-duration North Atlantic tropical storms spurious? Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, D10114, doi:10.1029/2010JD01549
Based on our results, it appears that the long-term record of the basin-wide shorties is sufficiently contaminated by spurious components to mask any climatically induced variation within the raw data. Moreover, based on these results and those of Vecchi and Knutson [2008] it is unlikely that a homogeneous record of Atlantic tropical storm counts would contain a statistically significant positive trend since the late 1800s. Our results provide a context for interpreting studies exploring trend behavior in the North Atlantic tropical storm activity starting prior to the 1940s. In particular, the conclusions of certain studies reporting large secular increases in North Atlantic tropical storm activity in which shorties are included [e.g., Holland and Webster, 2007; Mann et al., 2007] could be affected by what we interpret as likely spurious nonphysical trends unless an alternative physical explanation can be uncovered for the pronounced increase in shorties starting from the middle of the 20th century. Further, statistical models of tropical storm activity built using century‐scale records that include shorties [e.g., Mann et al., 2007; Sabbatelli and Mann, 2007; Mann et al., 2009] likely include an element reflecting the spurious shorties in the record.
“For tornadoes, this is because better observing technologies (and a lot more people looking) have increasingly identified small storms which were previously overlooked.”


Wasn’t he in Stargate Atlantis episode (in the one they pushed climate change on poor sci-fiers)


When he says “not many countries besides the US have tornadoes”, that is quite factual. Other countries do have tornadoes, but the majority of the worlds tornadoes do occur in the US because of the things he mentioned. And almost all the world’s EF4 and EF5 tornadoes occur in the US. There’s plenty of things to bash Bill Nye about, but this isn’t one of them.
[Ryan: true, the most intense tornadoes are in the US, but the deadliest are in Bangladesh, and they are a worldwide phenomena]

When water vapor changed from a liquid to a vapor it gives up heat high in the atmosphere, or medium height in the atmosphere. And that heat up there makes it churn up more and that leads to more storms.

Wow! Did I ever get it wrong in ninth grade science class. I always thought that water absorbed heat as it changed from liquid to vapor.
Do I feel stupid.

Fred from Canuckistan

“water vapor changed from a liquid to a vapor it gives up heat high in the atmosphere,”
Because wet and dry adiabatic lapse rates have been all wrong all these years.
Wonder if I plug in my kettle to turn cold water into steam if it will now give back electricity back into the wall?


I watched this pathetic interview. According to AccuWeather, people that get paid for doing this say blaming global warming for this is just crazy they predicted it was coming last year. The air temperature between 15,000 and 30,000ft is unusually cold and when the gulf stream warm moist air meets that cold air the rotating storms start up. As for the number of tornadoes there were many more in May 2003 than this year. Usually they don’t hit cities, this time they did. This happens every spring just like clockwork.

I’m old enough to remember Mr. Wizard, aka Don Herbert. He likely is responsible for starting many more kids on the road to science degrees than Bill Nye.
That quote about water vapor is just incredible.
I like “hurricane is a word coined in the Caribbean” too. Maybe that’s why hurricanes never hit the western Pacific coastline.

tom t

Gary Turner: I guess you fell asleep during that class. You probably sleep through the class where Al Gore explained that the center of the Earth is million of degrees. But don’t worry I sure these geniuses will tutor you for a fee.

Ryan already mentioned Bangladesh, but I figure a little Norwegian twister action might be nice.


I can’t watch much History and Discovery because of the political indocrination in their programs. Not really a surprise given They are based in NYC and Maryland, respectively. Should be called Hysteria and Distraction Channels.
Here’s what someone who lived in the USSR during Soviet times says about the direction our country is going. She recognizes too many disturbing similarities:
Keep up the fight.

Mike McMillan

I should apply for a job at Fox. Or that 5th grader should. ‘Meandering’ does describe his attempted answers.


Did you not get the message.
All the thermodynamics books from centries need to be corrected to align with Nye’s findings. He wants to be “out in front” correcting thermodynamics.

Keith Minto

We too have our resident ABC ‘science guru’, firmly wedded to AGW, Dr Karl. He is the one who when interviewing N Oreskes recently, could not even remember the CO2 concentration in the air.
You get the drift, be vague when you are cornered.

David Davidovics

@ Wucash
I remember that episode! Didn’t watch much of the show after that (not the only reason but it helped)
Best I can figure, it was supposed to be a commentary on the screw brained ideas involving geo engineering and the people that push for them. Although they still had to make the eposide safe for public consumption by including the “everybody has to do their part” at the end.

Leon Brozyna

It’s called the boob tube for a reason.



Bill Nye’s performances (and “aid” on Millionaire have not been overly impressive either.) Sorry Bill, you SHOULD give up the day job!

I want more Professor Cuckoo! There is nothing quite like a theoretical physicist going on a tear over global warming. Just don’t get him started on the “Companion” that he figured was following Comet Hale-Bopp, or Mel’s Hole. Go to the following link to hear his prediction for our current weak solar cycle. lol

Nye (Science Guy): ‘You don’t have tornadoes in Norway’
dallas: Beautiful – Norwegian tornado footage

Mac the Knife

In short ‘No. He is not.’ His rambling commentaries approach incoherence.


It is a matter of language. On Mars there are dust devils. In Australia there are water spouts, willi-willis and mini-cyclones. There word Tornado is used only by people educated or have work experience in USA. Similarly with Hurricanes. These are cyclones in Australia and the Pacific area. By restrictive definitions one can always have a biggest, strongest, longest etc. I mean you can say it is the strongest willi-willi in whoop-whoop since the last one two years ago.


Ryan, conservatives like what you have to say scientifically as long as it fits with their ideology. Likewise liberals. These are people who are interested in advancing their political agenda, not seeking truth. If both groups are upset with you it’s a clue you are on the right track, actually.


Ryan Maue says:
May 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm
Not getting enough attention….huh?
I honestly do not see what sort of statistics anyone can get from either hurricanes or tornadoes.
The way they are counted has changed, so you can’t compare pre 1960’s/70’s.
You can’t compare deaths or damage. That’s just the luck of the draw, or not.
We get around 1000/1500 tornadoes a year, depending on who’s counting.
Do they all hit corn or wheat fields, or all hit downtown Atlanta?
That’s just the luck of the draw……
Same with hurricanes. We know have the equipment to find and name storms, if even for a few minutes, that would have never been named before. And where they decide to land, makes all the difference. As bad as hurricane Andrew was, if it had hit downtown Miami, it would be a whole different ball game. If it had passed over the Keys, another different ball game.
So, how do you compare today’s numbers with past numbers? You can’t, and there goes the claims that they are increasing or decreasing.
How do you compare deaths and damage? You can’t, it’s just the luck of the draw.


Of course the greater question is:
Just what are 5th graders being taught.

Anything is possible

“It’s a wonder why the media continue to trot out the likes of Bill Nye and Michio Kaku to speak about climate change and the weather when they already have folks like Al Roker and Sam Champion on the payroll.”
Not really. Facts are as dull as ditchwater.
Wild-ass climate scenarios with the potential to kill millions of people, on the other hand, are ratings gold.

Leon Brozyna

Ryan Maue says:
May 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm
Political correctness isn’t confined to any particular part of the spectrum. It’s easy to get infected and not know it.


Ryan Maue says: “At least with this post, I’m not being pilloried by “conservatives” who subscribed to the “Think-Tank” reasoning. Amazing how easy a target Bill Nye is, but when you mention a fellow traveler like Amy Ridenour and her outfit, all hell breaks loose.”
Many reactions in the other thread were bizarre, shoot-from-the-hip responses, explicable only by careless reading. I tried to watch the NCPPR video in the press release link, but it was too childish to stomach. The press release itself was badly written and not very professional.


[I read the short transcript above, did not watch the video]
I love when the expression “the worst year for x since the 1950s”… Well what the heck was happening in the 1950s/or_whenever that made it the comparison point on which to declare “Global Warming” our current culprit.
No one on TV ever asks that.


I watched this interview this morning and at one point I checked to see what channel I was watching and thought just maybe I had stopped at the rooster-gone-amok network.

You don’t have tornado in Norway
“Tornadoes are exceedingly rare in Norway and the meteorologist on duty at Storm Weather Center need convincing after checking that conditions in Østfold did not seem to be conducive to the phenomenon, newspaper VG reports.
But after Brurok forwarded a picture taken with her mobile phone, meteorologist Frode H. Korneliussen was no longer in doubt.”
“Tornadoes are rarely powerful in Norway and as a rule just last for a few minutes. A reader of Aftenposten’s English service managed to photograph the formation of twin tornadoes while walking in Ustedalsfjorden near Geilo on July 23. These pictures can be seen here:”
It took one web search for Norway Tornado to find abundant evidence refuting Bill Nye’s assertion. He has obviously never done the same himself…
Why would anyone trust anything Bill “The Science Guy” Nye says when he appears to be making this stuff up as he goes…


I expect to see comments about your partisanship again.. attacking Democrats with that vicious picture 🙂

I’ve heard of Nye, but had to Bing Amy Ridenour. I think I’d trust Alexander Posey more about tornadoes:

Away out west, one day,
Two clouds were seen astray.
One came up from the sea,
Afar unto the south,
And drifted wearily;
One came out of the north.
Away out west that day,
A town was swept away.



I wonder what Mr. Nye was talking about when he referred to 1.5 billion BTU extra. That doesn’t sound like all that much extra energy, on a global scale. One thousand cubic feet of natural gas has a heat content of about 1 million BTU, so we’d be talking about the energy equivalent of a single 1,500 mcfd gas well, worth about $6,000 these days.
That’s a nice gas well, but not unusually large.

Anything is possible says: May 28, 2011 at 6:00 pm
Facts are as dull as ditchwater.
Ouch! I haven’t hung out with much ditchwater, but I imagine it to be quite a boring companion… 🙂

Greg Cavanagh

I would love to know what psychology is behind the need be the first to do something.
I see it in game blogs where posters simply jump onto a new thread to write “first”.
Then there is every polio spouting off about needing to lead the world in ______.
And every business leader, needing to be the leader in the field of _____.

“if you think of the Earth as a disk in space just receiving sunlight” – Bill Nye
The Earth is a big disc in space? Wow, didn’t know that the flat earth theory was back in vogue!
The last time I was on an airplane traveling across the Pacific it sure looked like a round oblate spheroid with irregularly distributed mass leading to uneven gravity distribution to me. Didn’t know the Earth switched to into it’s “flat disk phase” since. Must have missed that event. How often does this switch oscillate between flat disk and oblate spheroid?


I think we need a reality TV contest, along the lines of American Idol, or So You Think You Can Dance….or Dancing With The Stars…..that gives us the national Global Warming Spokesperson.
American Climatologist, So You Think You Can Do A Clever Trick, or Dancing With The Data???? Produced by Nigel Lythgoe, with Rajendra Patchauri, Richard B. Alley, and Lady GaGa as judges….how could you go wrong!!
In the end, you’ll get a flamboyant and outspoken representative of the AGW movement who, while knowing nothing about climate, will be able to SELL climate change! With Billy Mays and Slap-Chop Vince out of the picture…We need someone who can sell an idea.
I wonder if Harold Camping is available?? Now there’s a guy with a track record!

mike sphar

and all this time I thought Bill was just a 5th grader


Bill Nye the bus pass guy? He’s a stand-up comedian. Not even a funny one. He’s padding his income shagging bus passes for King County Metro, now.
He got the Science Guy moniker while doing science gags on Almost Live!, a local comedy show here in Seattle. The host, Ross Schaffer, gave him the name and he ran with it. Still is. Is not, has not worked as a scientist. Who pay attention to him? You may as well study Joe Romm for all the science you’ll get.

R. Shearer

To me Nye and Kuku are science clowns, paid for by the AGW establishment.


DJ says:
May 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm
I wonder if Harold Camping is available??

Now there’s a thought.
Sounds interesting.


Saw Mr. Nye doing a CNN interview on the nuclear meltdown at Fukashima… as a nuclear expert. Let’s just say that “we’re going to take a break now and be right back with Bill Nye” isn’t exactly how it went. He’s not the only one. Recall how many fields Ben Stein is an “expert” in. How many areas is Newt Gingrich an “expert” in?

Jay Curtis

My children, who are now 29 and 31, were early teenagers when Bill Nye was doing his science education schtick on Disney. The reason that they “trot out” Bill Nye the Science Guy is that he has credibility with this age group today, and his handlers can depend upon him to reliably say “the right thing” about climate change, thus keeping many true believers among the faithful.
Don’t worry about those deniers folks, yer ol’ buddy Bill Nye is here to tell ya that GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL!

Bill Nye takes on the Norwegian footage…

Ric Werme says:
May 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm
I’m old enough to remember Mr. Wizard, aka Don Herbert. He likely is responsible for starting many more kids on the road to science degrees than Bill Nye.

Mr. Wizard is largely responsible for me becoming an engineer. I still remember that his wonderful program was sponsored by The Cereal Institute. Here is a link to an interview he gave in 2000
He passed away in 2007 at the nice ripe age of 89. THANKS Mr. Wizard!

Where did Mr Nye get the idea water vapor is going up ?
He is just “making stuff up”!
In reality water vapor has gone down continuously since 1950 or so.
or go to: [greenhouse gasses]
That simple fact shoots down CAGW all by itself because without feedback a doubling causes only 1 degree C of warming.
Without massive water vapor positive feedback there is no CAGW.

ZT says: May 28, 2011 at 8:17 pm
Bill Nye takes on the Norwegian footage…

I think it would be better if you interspersed additional Norwegian footage, i.e.: