Watch: John Oliver and Bill Nye Show Why Cable News Climate “Debates” Are So Ridiculous

Instead of a one-on-one faceoff, “Last Week Tonight” hosts one that is 97 against 3.

Bill Nye debates climate change surrounded by 96 other bow-tied scientists on John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight."Screenshot/HBO

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For over a decade, people like me have been explaining why so-called “balanced” coverage—in which journalists devote “equal time” to both sides of a “controversy”—is totally inappropriate when it comes to climate change. But many in the mass media,  especially cable shows, have continued to regularly host climate “debates” in which one skeptic debates one climate science defender…or, lately, in which one skeptic debates Bill Nye the Science Guy.

That’s what made John Oliver’s climate segment last night, on his new HBO show Last Week Tonight, so perfect. Not only did Oliver explain why there’s no debate at all over global warming; he then demonstrated what an actually appropriate televised debate might look like. Bill Nye appeared on set, as did a climate “skeptic,” but then 96 other scientists appeared at Nye’s side (hilariously crowding onto the set) while their opponent got two additional supporters. These numbers—97 and 3—were based on a now-world famous study of published climate science papers, showing that 97 percent of studies that took a stand on whether humans are warming the planet said the answer is “yes.”

Warning: If you watch this, you’ll never be able to watch a climate “debate” again without rolling your eyes:

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

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