Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)
Budd Titlow & Mariah Tingerhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BG98CCWF / http://www.buddtitlow.com
In 1980, The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) released its 13-episode series entitled, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage and struck televised gold. Narrated by the indubitable astrophysicist and science communicator, Carl Sagan, the original Cosmos set a milestone for scientific documentaries, examining such enigmas as the origin of life and humankind’s place in the universe. Along the way, Cosmos became the most popular public television series in the United States until 1990 when master documentarian, Ken Burns came along with his The Civil War. To date, more than 500 million people in 60 countries have viewed the original Cosmos.
In 2014, Seth McFarlane, successful animator and creator of the Family Guy television series, convinced the Fox Network to produce a Cosmos remake with world-renowned astrophysicist and equally indubitable Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson assuming Dr. Sagan’s narrator role. This move was especially apropos since Dr. Sagan was Dr. Tyson’s hero growing up and they both possessed a charismatic way of communicating that magically converted everyday people on the street into scientific stalwarts.
As Mr. McFarlane put it, he wanted to financially support the new Cosmos because he believed it “bridged the gap between the academic community and the general public”. For anyone now watching the show, it’s impossible to disagree with this description. Watching Dr. Tyson take complex scientific principles and spin them down for everyone to understand is indeed something to behold. Dr. Tyson is exactly the type of person who will be most effective at explaining the complexities of Climate Change to the American public and then getting them to understand the importance of taking immediate action.
Neil deGrasse Tyson—Scientist / Communicator
What you say about a man who was captain of his college wrestling team; rower on his collegiate crew team; ballet, jazz, and ballroom dancer; natural history essayist and columnist; multi-published author; doctor of astrophysics and cosmology; public television show host; planetarium director; and a NASA Distinguished Scientist? When we first read Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s bio, we jumped out of my chair, slapped our hands together and exclaimed, “Okay, here’s just the man who can tell us how to solve the Climate Change crisis.”
Born on October 5, 1958 in New York City, Dr. Tyson became hooked on astronomy when he made his first visit to the Hayden Planetarium—a facility he now directs—at the tender age of nine. Truly a contemporary “renaissance man”, Tyson not only has had an asteroid named after him but was also voted the “Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive” by People Magazine in 2000. Educated as an astrophysicist and cosmologist, he epitomizes the oft-used cliché, “rocket scientist”. But his skills as a science communicator and host of such PBS shows as NOVA ScienceNow, Origins, and Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey are impeccable and beyond reproach.
Tyson has also written numerous books on the universe and humanity’s place in it. His titles include: Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries , Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, and his own memoir, The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist.
Not just a brilliant scientist, Tyson is also an awesome presenter. His vast knowledge in a variety of scientific fields, his sense of humor, rhetoric, and the manner in which he presents the shows adds to his mass appeal. The thousands of views his YouTube videos garner is a proof of his ever-growing popularity. Tyson’s professional research interests include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way—working with data from the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as from telescopes in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and the Andes Mountains of Chile.
Using his quick brain, acerbic wit, and stalwart media connections, Tyson has never backed away from a good fight. Just ask any of the “creationism” folks he’s verbally sparred with on the air. He is especially assertive when it comes to expressing his views on Climate Change. Here’s what Tyson had to say on a May 6, 2014 episode of his show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey: “We’re dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate the Earth hasn’t seen since the great climate catastrophes of the past, the ones that led to mass extinctions. We just can’t seem to break our addiction to the kinds of fuel that will bring back a climate last seen by the dinosaurs, a climate that will drown our coastal cities and wreak havoc on the environment, and our ability to feed ourselves.”
From an educational perspective, Tyson provides the absolute best demonstration of the difference between weather and Climate Change we have ever seen. It is an astonishingly simple video showing him walking a typically curious dog along a beach. As the dog veers randomly from side-to-side on its leash, Tyson explains that the dog’s erratic movements are like weather—which may vary wildly from day-to-day. Meanwhile, he says that his straight-line movement mimics Climate Change which captures the center line of the periodic weather patterns. In the final analysis, Tyson summarizes that “you have to keep your eye on the man, not the dog.”
Finally, here are some of Tyson’s remarks presented on the web site, Forward Progressives:
“One of the biggest mistakes we make when discussing Climate Change is calling it a ‘debate,’ because there is no debate—it’s real and human activity on the planet is the leading cause of it.”
“Unfortunately, the main reasons why there are so many people who deny that humans are causing Climate Change are: The issue has become political, meaning that many people shut off their brains and simply regurgitate talking points based on whatever their political party is telling them to believe, regardless of facts.”
“Religion is another issue that many use as a reason to deny Climate Change. I’ve met quite a few people who deny Climate Change is real because they believe God controls the weather. There’s really no reasoning with these people or changing their minds—no matter what sort of factual evidence you provide, they’re going to believe what they believe.”
Simply put, it would be great if we could clone at least 100 more Dr. Tysons. While his scientifically based put-downs of unfounded rhetoric may come across to some as arrogant, they may be just the words we need to educate the general public about the potential pending ravages of Climate Change. If deniers hear Dr. Tyson’s arguments about rational logic overcoming illogical bluster enough times, we are certain to gain a few converts here and there!
Author’s bio: For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest award-winning books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.