Jane vs. Climate Change

Aw, yiss: the pilot edition of Jane vs. I’m kicking off this post column by watching released episodes Bill Nye Saves the World. ‘Tis where the idea for such a series originated, so it only makes sense, methinks.

Bill Nye Saves the World 1.01: Earth Is a Hot Mess

The first episode of Bill Nye Saves the World is “Earth Is a Hot Mess”. It talks about climate change deniers, breaks down the science of global warming and explains how we can make the planet a cooler place to live. ‘Cause, you know, we only got one o’ these things.[1. The whole “living on Mars” thing has yet to happen, and I’m just like eh about it. Like, if we cannot—as a people—properly care for one planet, what makes us—as a people—feel entitled to living on a second planet? I just…ugh.]

Screenshot featuring closeup of Bill Nye looking at a heated fluid


  • Warmth = expansion
    • When things get warm, they expand.
    • Demonstrated with a liquid thermometer, as well as with a tube of liquid over a fire.
      • “The ocean on Earth is like a planet-sized thermometer. When it gets just a little bit warmer, it’s expanding and getting just a little bit bigger.”
        • The “little bit bigger” = floods, all the time, in various US cities (including exotic places, like Norfolk, Virginia). And when the water level raises in the US, people leave. (But, like, where are they gonna go? Mars?)
  • Climate changes affects things we [humans] love
    • Karlie Kloss helps us understand what we lose as a result of climate change + the harm we cause to the planet:
      • Chocolate — Regions where most cacao is grown will be too hot.
      • Fish — Warming waters, overfishing, and ocean acidification are destroying fish supplies.
      • Coffee — Longer temperatures, longer droughts, punctuated by intense rainfall, more resiliant pests and plant diseases → significantly reduced the coffee supplies in recent years.
      • Pandas — Climate change threatens China’s bamboo supply, pandas’ diet.
    • Fortunately for all of us, there is no shortage of licorice jelly beans!
  • Humans are making climate change worse
    “Paraphrasing my colleague Jay-Z: It’s not one problem, we’ve got 99 problems. And they’re all b—difficult.”

    • Factories, cars, trains and planes, and electric power plants almost all run on fuel made of ancient living things—coil, oil, natural gas—which contain carbon.
    • Carbon + burning = carbon dioxide (CO2)
    • As light from sun goes through the Earth’s atmosphere, it passed right by CO2 molecules. When the sun reaches Earth’s surface, it warms the soil, the seas and the plants. Some of the warmth returns to outer space as heat energy.
    • Scientists call CO2 a “greenhouse gas”. Greenhouses work by blocking infrared light. Glass lets light through, but prevents a lot of the heat (infrared) from escaping. CO2 in the atmosphere does the same. There’s not a glass dome over the Earth (this isn’t Stephen King’s Under the Dome), but there’s a big gas dome of CO2.
    • We’ve always been kept warm by the “greenhouse effect”, but it’s never gotten this warm this fast. The rate is the problem.
      “2010-2020 will be the hottest decade on record, and not just because I’m on TV again. Places all over the world are already being affected. I’m serious!”
  • Venice, Italy engineers vs. the rising waters
    • Paired with global warming, the water has become a big problem. Books are protected by being stacked on chairs, in tubs, and on shelves.

      “Venice was built on the water. Unfortunately, this is one of the major problem that Venice has.” ~Venice resident

    • The tide in Venice rises twice a day, part of the natural flow of water. In light of climate change, however, the tides have risen higher and increased risk of flooding during storms. (People are literally trudging through water.)
    • Project MOSE: Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico
      • Using buoyancy, gates stand on the bottom and, when needed, they inflate air inside, which causes the gates to tilt up until the surface to protect the lagoon (on which Venice is built) from the high tide. The system’s designed to hold back up to a 3-meter-high tide.
      • Planning for MOSE = about three decades, and the system will be fully implemented in 2018.
      • Cost: €5.5bil
      • Complex system of locks so boats can still come in and out during a high tide.
      • A “high tide” is approx. 3 meters high, i.e. the first floor of businesses, houses, restaurants in Venice that have been there for 1000 years.
      • Each piece circa 20 meters, about 15-20 pieces each gate, three gates total
      • Everyone in Venice has an app they check everyday for the high tides
      • MOSE references to Moses parting the Red Seas
  • Bill takes a minute
    • Bill expects the United States to be the world leader in addressing a problem like climate change, but it isn’t because the climate change deniers have been so successful in managing to get across the idea that scientific uncertainty (+/- 2 or 3 percent) is the same as +/- 100 percent.

      “The one thing the United States exports for better or for worse is its culture. If we were exporting the culture of “Climate Change: Serious Business. We’re gonna get to work on this—we’re gonna have renewable energy, we’re gonna have clean water for everyone and access to electronic information for everyone in the world”, then we’d be getting it done.”

  • Distinguished panel
    • Panelists + Bill
      • Dr. Mark Jacobson, civil engineer
      • Richard Martin, journalist and author of The Coal Wars: The Future of Energy and the Fate of the Planet, has also written about thorium (whatever that is…probably a periodic element)
      • Taryn O’Neill, writer and co-founder of science advocacy group called “Scirens”
    • Mark’s “cool” vision of renewable energy for everyone
      • Transform energy infrastructures of states and countries to 100 percent clean, renewable energy for all purposes — I like this!
      • Technologically and economically possible (?! then why aren’t we doing it?!)
      • (Ah.) Main barriers = social + political
      • Ergo, we currently have the resources (they’re economically reasonable enough) right now to power the entire world on clean, renewable resources for all purposes, and have stable electricity, create jobs, and stabilize energy prices.
    • Richard’s input, re: nuclear power
      • Richard agrees, “It’s a beautiful vision, but it’s a utopian vision, and we have to live in the real world.” He says we don’t have the time to work through the political and social barriers, but…I don’t understand why?!

Like—and this is a reason I want to blog about this topic more—there are a lot of people who understand the need for eco-friendliness. Beyond this, it seems to me that starting somewhere is of utmost importance. Like starting a blog, if all you do is chat about it and consider how to start, it’s unlikely to ever get done. Pick a spot and start making a difference! Explain the benefits of this ish—make it all shiny and sparkly. I didn’t originally get into RUMPs because I wanted a greener period—I got into it because I thought spending $150 total for a few years and then spending nothing was better than spending thousands of dollars for the rest of my life that I was literally throwing away.

Richard argues that a better alternative is nuclear power, which…eh. Bill butts in an explains that b) nobody wants nuclear power plants, and a) we probably don’t need them.

Mark says that it’s true we don’t need nuclear power plants, adding, that it’s impossible to solve the global warming problem with nuclear, because to eliminate the 1-2°C people are striving for (of the whole world), we need to eliminate 80 percent of fossil fuel and bio-fuel emissions.

“By 2030, we need to eliminate 80 percent, and 100 percent by 2050. If you can eliminate 80 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050, then you can avoid or barely—maybe—avoid 1.5-degree warming.” ~Mark Jacobson

One power plant takes circa 19 years for permissions and construction, but we’d need 15,000 worldwide to power the whole world on nuclear power.

Which, again, ew.

Solar energy can be stored, i.e. “concentrated solar power”; Bill calls it a “conventional steam turbine”.

How to save the world

  • I like Taryn, because she asks who we talk to to make these changes—what non-engineers can do, because we don’t know how to get there but don’t want to give up our cars.
  • Mark and Bill say to vote. If you don’t want to vote, then stop talking and let the rest of us who want to participate do it.
  • Become aware.

    “For so long, we’ve flipped the switch. The lights come on, we don’t think about where it comes from.” ~Richard

    The way people are becoming aware of where food comes from (re: the local food movement), the same thing is happening with electricity.

  • WWII was an example, because it was a so in-your-face destruction issue that had to be resolved.
  • Taryn: We have the dystopian sci-fi, where we know the bad things that can happen, but what if we create a more positive image of this future of—
    Bill: We should do a show about it!
    Taryn and Richard: We should do a show about it.
  • We’ll shut up about climate change when we start doing something about the problem.

My later posts in this new column of sorts is, um, better organized. I did this one differently and did the latter episodes better, and while I have tried to fix this one to also be better, it’s just not working out. Like, I don’t even know how to fix it to make it better?

If you loved this post, please share or buy me a pretzel:

Leave a comment

Comments on this post

I’ve been actively trying to take a tote bag to the grocery store and stop using plastic bags. My parents used to have a collection of them, which came in handy to collect trash, but they had so many bags 😭 I feel much better about not taking a plastic bag from the store in the first place. I try to recycle whenever possible, too.

Reply to this »

I’ve been looking into using diva cups mostly because it’s so much cheaper but I never really considered how much greener it is. Maybe I’ll finally make the jump! One of the greener things that I’ve been trying to do is transition from store plastic bags to making my own reusable grocery bags. We use waay too much plastic.

It’s very interesting how there’s no one consensus as to how to solve this crisis. It makes me feel like it will never be resolved. It feels very hopeless unless there’s a huge cultural and economical shift in our thinking. We might need a disaster to wake ourselves up and by then it might be too late. I’m very pessimistic about the issue but I do have some hope…

Reply to this »

Diva Cups…eh. There are sooo many cups out there beyond the Diva Cup! First-timers have issues with it, so I try not to leave people with the impression that it’s the only one. Everyone’s different, so I can’t recommend one in particular, but a well-known starter is Lunette. 😊

I really wish more stores have discounts on using our own bags…or at least weren’t so adamant about the plastic ones. Why can’t they use recycled brown bags? People here get annoyed because it’s inconvenient, or they just ignore when I bring mine most the time…and other customers act like I’m snobby for using them. 😕 So ridiculous.

Sometimes I do feel like it’s too late, but then I look at the recent generations—they’re really changing the world! I think we’re in the awkward transition between older gens and millennials—the switch of power between the two generations. It’s so awkward because the older one doesn’t seem ready to give it up. They raised us to take no prisoners, but it’s like they can’t accept it? IDK. It’s weird, but I definitely have hope of the possibility.

Then again, I agree…we might need a catastrophe to prove need for caring for the planet. 😔

Reply to this »

I will check out Lunette! I’ve heard good and bad things about Diva Cups but never really research any other brands. I probably should!

Stores nowadays make you pay $0.25 or $0.50 per bag, but that might just be in Canada. That’s definitely one of the factors why I’m transitioning to my own bags! I was a cashier once and I will admit that it is a bit harder to bag items when people bring their own bags but at the same time, I admired them for doing so and never held it against the customer.

Reply to this »

Put A Cup In It has a quiz that may help you! I used the older one, but should probably try this one out.

Ah! I know some places in the states do that. Texas used to, but stopped because too many people complained?? Some countries charge people for their bags/bottles (it’s just, like, an extra fee, like a tax), then pay those customers back that fee when they recycle them. It seems people respond more to such incentives?? A few stores here offer discounts to customers who bring their own bags—even if it’s 10 cents, it adds up—and I wish more did that. I think if major stores (e.g. Walmart) implemented more sustainability into their business, it’d stress the importance in waves. As a cashier, it was definitely annoying to deal with the bags, but I definitely preferred customers with them because I frequently ran out of bags!

Reply to this »

I actually feel so much informed by this and I can definitely tell you put a lot of research into this and I’m happy that you did.

Reply to this »

Ah, thanks, Michelle! I watched the show and took notes…it’s the start of this column. This is the first segment of it, and it’s way different from the rest, which sucks because it doesn’t resemble how the following contributions will be, but I’ve watched this episode of BNSTW thrice now and thus can’t be bothered to go through that again. 😅 So I left it. XD I originally took paper notes on it, but those have since been lost since I did it last June.

The ones following will definitely be more discussive. 😀 (Is that a word? Meh, it is now.)

Reply to this »