Bill Nye thinks climate change played a role in motivating the terrorist attacks on Paris last month.
Speaking on HuffPost Live Tuesday, Nye said drought in Syria makes it easier for terrorist organizations to recruit new members, giving them the manpower to coordinate complex operations like the Paris attacks:
“It’s very reasonable that the recent trouble in Paris is a result of climate change. This water shortage in Syria —there is a water shortage in Syria. This is fact based— small and medium farmers have abandoned their farms because there’s not enough water, not enough rainfall. And especially the young people who have not grown up there, have not had their whole lives invested in living off the land, the young people have gone to the big cities looking for work. There’s not enough work for everybody, so the disaffected youths, as we say, the young people who don’t believe in the system, believe the system’s failed, don’t believe in the economy are more easily engaged and more easily recruited by terrorist organizations, and then they end up part way around the world in Paris shooting people. So you can make a very reasonable argument that climate change is not that indirectly related to terrorism. This is just the start of things. The more we let this go on, the more trouble there’s going to be. You can say ‘we’ll stamp out the terrorists,’ but if everybody’s leaving their farms because of water shortages that’s a little bigger problem”
Nye has used his name recognition in recent years to become a science advocate and climate change has become his current focus. His new book Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change The World, released last month, pushes the public to recognize that climate change is responsible for recent erratic weather and flooding and insists that policymakers and the public must commit to creating a more sustainable culture and infrastructure.
“It’s such a big problem that people are paralyzed—they’re paralyzed by self doubt,” Nye told Quartz. “And this, in my perception, feeds into denialism. It’s just so overwhelming, you can’t even contemplate doing something about it. But as I like to say, the longest journey begins with but a single step. The sooner you get started the sooner we can address these issues.”
Obviously, the connection between terrorism and the weather is less direct and Nye’s argument, at least in this form, seems more logical than evidentiary. Still, it’s hard to think of a clearer way to establish Nye’s larger point, that ignoring climate change will get people killed in any number of ways, direct and indirect.