Neil deGrasse Tyson Wonders Why Climate Change Deniers Didn't Protest The Solar Eclipse

"It's not political if one speaks objective truths."

If you marveled at last week's total solar eclipse while denying scientific findings about climate change, Neil deGrasse Tyson has some news for you. 

The astrophysicist appeared on The Daily Show Monday night to promote his new book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, and the eclipse was one of his first topics of discussion with host Trevor Noah. We've seen how critical Tyson has been about the science of pop culture, so it was no surprise that he also disputed the idea that eclipses are rare — they happen every couple of years somewhere in the world.

Noah then brought up a tweet Tyson posted earlier in the month in which he noted that no one was denying that the solar eclipse would occur on August 21, despite the fact that — just like climate change — the date was determined by scientists. The host jokingly asked him if an eclipse is "the time to politicize things."

"It's not political if one speaks objective truths," Tyson retorted, to applause from the audience. He then elaborated on his tweet, saying, "I just thought, here's everyone organizing their lives around attending a viewing of one of nature's great spectacles, and I don't see people protesting it. I don't see people objecting to it. I don't see people in denial of it, yet methods and tools of science predict it."

"So when methods and tools of science predict other things," he continued, "to have people turn around and say, 'I deny what you say,' there's something wrong in our world."

Noah then asked Tyson how he would convince someone who claimed to believe in science and acknowledged climate change, but didn't believe it was man-made. "I would show you the data that display it," Tyson said, adding that studies have been done by different scientists in different countries. "And if it all leans in the same direction, getting even approximately the same result, we are on top of a new, emergent scientific truth."

Tyson went on to call out politicians who let their denial of climate change data affect their policy decisions, explaining, "If that's what you want to stand in denial of, fine, in a free country, you have the freedom to deny whatever you want. But if you then rise to power and base legislation on something that is not objectively true, that is the beginning of the end of an informed democracy."

Just last week, as the country prepared for the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Tyson posted a similar tweet pointing out that he didn't "see much denial" of the scientists who predicted the storm's path. (Although he wrote "climate scientists," he later clarified that he should have referenced simply "NOAA scientists," as some users pointed out the incorrect conflation with meteorologists.)

Tyson's comments point to a troubling truth. According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree, "Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities." However, a 2016 Yale study found that, while 70 percent of Americans agree that global warming is happening, only 53 percent agree that it is caused by human activities, and only 40 percent believe it will harm them personally.

That's why it's so important for those with a platform like Tyson's to speak that truth to the public.

Cover image via Twitter

(H/T: HuffPost)

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