Celebrity scientist Bill Nye spoke at the University of Miami Thursday, Feb. 7, to dispel myths about climate change and inspire students to commit to an environmentally-friendly lifestyle.
Nye came to campus as the first guest of the What Matters to U lecture series, a new student government initiative meant to “bring moderated discussion designed to actively engage and interact with the audience,” said Keegan Gibson, chair of the planning committee.
The event sold out of tickets just a few days after its announcement.
“Bill Nye has been an influential part of my childhood,” said freshman Ishaan Chatterjee, a microbiology and immunology major. Nye is most famously known for his role as host on the educational children’s show “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”
“I was most excited about seeing him in person and curious as to whether he was as eccentric and lively as he is in his show,” said Chatterjee.
“Bill Nye the Science Guy” was one of senior Nishwa Jamil’s favorite programs in elementary and middle school, but while Jamil said she was excited to see an iconic childhood figure, she was more intrigued to hear what Nye had to say about climate change.
“Climate change is a very serious issue we face in today’s world, and it’s important that we educate ourselves the best we can,” she said. “Climate change is a subject that we can never talk about enough, so I was very glad that it was the topic of discussion,” said Jamil.
Abigail Adeleke, a sophomore majoring in journalism and psychology, also said she was looking forward to seeing an influential figure from her childhood.
“I grew up with Bill Nye so I appreciated that he took the time to speak at our university,” she said.
Adeleke also said she wanted to hear Nye speak about the current state of Earth’s environment.
“I think climate change is something that should be readily on our minds, especially if we want to have a planet left for our future children,” she said.
Andrea Wright, a senior double majoring in marine science and geological sciences, said she admired the way Nye spoke about climate change at the lecture.
“Sometimes climate change can be a dry and repetitive topic, but he brought a lot of energy to it,” she said.
Despite the pessimism surrounding the topic of climate change, Nye touched upon what can be done to mitigate the effects of the phenomenon.
“You guys are going to be a part of huge changes,” he said. “As we say in the theatre, if you’re nervous about it, turn that nervousness into excitement. Be excited about the future.”
Many students responded positively to Nye’s words of encouragement.
“We face many problems in today’s world, many of which my generation will have to fix,” Jamil said.
“I found it most interesting that he emphasized that it is on us to be advocates for change in our community by voting,” said Adeleke.
“When we elect people into roles of power who do not care or who refuse to believe the extent of climate change, we subject ourselves to problems as a result,” Jamil said. “I definitely didn’t realize how much potential the state of Florida has when it comes to using clean energy and I’m glad Bill Nye spoke on that.”
Interpreting what Nye told the audience, Chatterjee said he understood that “the limitations we set on ourselves can always be surpassed if we have a more optimistic and driven mindset.”
Representatives from the What Matters to U planning committee said their ultimate goal is to make each lecture an event that the student body can look forward.
In the future, Adeleke said she hopes What Matters to U will bring a “hot button issue as a topic of discussion” because “it really keeps the conversation going and relevant.”
Jaime Harn and Benjamin Estrada contributed to the reporting.