“Together we can, with the joy of discovery, dare I say it … change the world!”
Bill Nye’s closing statement triggered immediate applause and a standing ovation from almost 7,500 people in the Drake University Knapp Center on April 14.
Nye, the 36th Bucksbaum lecturer, is most known for his role in “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” an educational comedy series aimed at teaching students about different areas of physical science.
He is now the president of the Planetary Society, which promotes the education of space exploration. He has also written several books over the past three decades.
Nye began his speech with a story about how his parents met and married, including both of their work in World War II. Nye’s mother was a cryptographer for the United States, and Nye’s father ended up in China and Japan as a prisoner of war.
Because this was known as an era where people came together to solve a problem, Nye said that the era is proclaimed as the “greatest generation.”
While some audience members were intrigued, some wondered where the speech would go from there.
“I was expecting it to be more political,” said Karen Mastrolonardo, a Drake student’s mother.
Although Nye did reference presidential candidates, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and John Kasich as “climate deniers,” Nye focused on encouraging voters to pay attention to the climate change conversation rather than telling the audience who to vote for.
“I ask that you take the climate into consideration when you vote,” Nye said. “And those of you that say your vote doesn’t matter … would you just shut up?”
Nye believes there isn’t enough votes from millennials on the Republican side yet, so he expects one of the conservative candidates to accept climate change in order to receive more votes from the younger generation. Because of this, Nye insisted that everybody’s vote matters.
Other than those words, Nye avoided politics and instead introduced the “Solutions Project,” an effort to transition the world to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. Between wind, the sun, tides and the earth, Nye believes that by 2050 the world could enact this project.
After showing the similarities between several independent studies done on the Earth’s temperature from a century ago, Nye concluded that people cannot deny climate change.
“The Earth is not getting cooler,” Nye said. “That’s a fact-based point of view.”
Nye showed pictures of his personal efforts to transition to renewable energy, including the solar panels on his roof and his solar hot water system. His solar hot water system is 20 percent efficient and was created by two plumbers with the help of Nye.
“Solar hot water systems are not rocket science,” Nye said, chuckling. “What if you guys, Bulldogs, make one that’s 60 percent efficient? 80 percent efficient? You could change the world! You could also, dare I say, get rich!”
Nye stayed true to his television personality by keeping the same dry sense of humor. For example, Nye projected a picture of an airplane in the Knapp Center.
“I was flying over New York City a few weeks ago — well, I wasn’t flying. I’m not that strong,” Nye said, flapping his arms up and down like a bird.
Twelve-year old David Harper found inspiration and optimism in Nye’s speech.
“It make the world a lot less scary, I guess,” Harper said. “I liked when he talked about changing the world with everyone coming together toward one common goal.”
Harper has been a fan of Nye since elementary school and hopes to program genetics as his career.
Andy Noble, a student at DMACC, enjoyed how Nye kept humor in his presentation.
“I thought it was interesting, and I’m glad he made it funny,” Noble said.
Noble is not studying science, but he is interested in scientific studies. However, Noble was disappointed in one thing.
“I was kind of disappointed he didn’t sing the ‘Bill Nye’ song,” Noble said, before chanting, “Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!”
Sixteen-year-old Kelly Thompson also wants to go into the science field, but he would rather be an astronaut.
Because Nye has been so involved in science, Thompson was inspired by the presentation.
“He talks in a such passionate way,” Thompson said. “It’s the same kind of passion I hope to seek out.”