Among the luminaries planning to be in attendance at U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday is Bill Nye the Science Guy, a fact that has some of Nye’s longtime fans up in arms.
Nye will attend as the guest of Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, who has been embroiled in controversy since being nominated by the president to head up NASA. While Bridestine had previously sided with many in the Trump administration by denying climate change was a real thing, he later indicated his views have reversed at least a bit.
“I believe that the scientific consensus is that humans are contributing and have contributed to the climate change that we have seen,” Bridenstine told the U.S. Senate back in November 2017, Quartz reported. But skeptics point to fact he never went the extra step to add that human activity is the major force behind climate change.
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Still, the simple admission that climate change is real was apparently enough for Nye, with the climate change activist throwing his support behind Bridenstine.
“During his recent nomination hearing, Congressman Bridenstine said that he now accepts climate change and that humans are playing a role in it,” Nye told Quartz in a statement. “He’s changed his mind, and in science that’s generally a good thing. I am hopeful that others will see the wisdom in the Congressman’s evolving view and follow suit. Let’s embrace the science and rise to the challenge of climate change.”
Nye’s fans, however, don’t see things quite the same way and have drafted a petition urging the Bill Nye Saves the World star to stay away from the State of the Union.
“President Donald Trump is a bigoted climate denier. So is Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Trump’s embattled nominee for NASA Administrator. So why is Bill Nye ‘very pleased’ to be Bridenstine’s guest at Trump’s first State of the Union address?” the petition alleges.
“Bill, please be the Science Guy, not the Bigoted Climate Denial Guy. Cancel your plans to attend Trump’s State of the Union as Rep. Bridenstine’s guest,” adds the petition, which has already received more than 28,000 signatures of the 35,000 sought.
While numerous people have also taken to Twitter to blast Nye for his decision to attend as Bridenstine’s guest, he shared his rationale in a series of tweets.
As Nye explains, even though he and Bridenstine “disagree on a great many issues — we share a deep respect for NASA and its achievements,” he wrote, adding: “My attendance tomorrow should not be interpreted as an endorsement of this administration, or of Congressman Bridenstine’s nomination, or seen as an acceptance of the recent attacks on science and the scientific community.”