Review: ‘Bill Nye: Science Guy,’ a Portrait of a Fighter for Facts

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Bill Nye has embraced a new mission: educating an older generation on climate change and championing space exploration. Credit Lindsay Mann/Structure Films, PBS

In the film “Bill Nye: Science Guy,” Mr. Nye, the 1990s children’s-television personality with the signature bow tie, warns of “an anti-science movement” afoot in this country. And this delightful, revealing documentary, directed by David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg, offers evidence supporting that assessment.

Mr. Nye, who left his Emmy-winning series after around 100 episodes, has embraced a new mission: educating an older generation as he champions space exploration and challenges creationists and climate-change deniers.

In TV clips, Sarah Palin impugns Mr. Nye’s credentials, and an Obama-era Donald J. Trump declares, “Our president is worried about global warming — what a ridiculous situation.” Joe Bastardi, the former chief long-range forecaster at AccuWeather and a frequent Fox News guest, insists that extreme weather is merely meteorological variation, not the result of human-caused global warming. (Mr. Nye is polite but resolute as he argues with Mr. Bastardi during a visit to his home.)

BILL NYE: SCIENCE GUY Official Theatrical Trailer Video by PBS

“As we stand here, the Juno spacecraft just went into orbit around Jupiter,” Mr. Nye says. “It’s an extraordinary accomplishment of engineering and rocket science.”

“Here is anti-science,” he adds, gesturing in the direction of the Kentucky tourist attractions the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, whose exhibits present such sights as prehistoric humans cohabiting, Flintstone-like, with dinosaurs, and a sauropod (a dinosaur species) dwelling on Noah’s ark. Mr. Nye debates the museum’s chief executive, Ken Ham, on a stage, though his efforts only galvanize Mr. Ham’s supporters.

The documentary also follows Mr. Nye’s work as chief executive of the Planetary Society, as he collaborates with the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and spearheads the LightSail project (a small spacecraft powered by photons from the sun), a tribute to Mr. Nye’s mentor Carl Sagan. And it accompanies Mr. Nye to Greenland, where he witnesses melting ice caps and ice-core studies revealing climate temperatures of centuries past and our fossil-fuel-poisoned present.

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