Bill Nye’s Summer Heat Wave Explanation Breaks Down the Science of the “Heat Dome”

Spoiler alert: it's about the fossil fuels.

Lauren Wellbank - Author

Jun. 24 2024, Updated 4:56 p.m. ET

Bill Nye explains heat dome using a map and glass
Source: CNN/YouTube

Bill Nye has come up with the perfect explanation to teach people about why heat domes have become more and more frequent as summer temperatures continue to rise, creating unbearable conditions for folks all across the country. Not only does he explain the science behind the dome, but he also shares what he thinks it will take for people to stand up and do something about heat waves as they become a more common occurrence.

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Sadly, it sounds like the science educator thinks things have to get a lot worse before they can get any better. Continue reading to learn more.

Bill Nye speaks to CNN about deadly heatwave amid fears over record-breaking weather extremes
Source: CNN/YouTube
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Bill Nye says that people aren't taking climate change seriously because there hasn't been a big enough disaster yet.

Nye used a really good analogy during his on air CNN interview in June 2024 — he compared the climate crisis to wartime disasters, saying that the changes we're seeing now are happening in slow motion. To expect any real change in human behavior, we would need to experience a Pearl Harbor or 9/11 level disaster. Unfortunately, that means record breaking heatwaves like the ones that have become more common across the country may end up being our new normal.

As for the heat domes that make those high temperatures feel so much worse, well Nye says they're another product of the growing climate crisis. In the video, he illustrated what makes the heat trapped in those domes so potent by using a map and a piece of solid beveled glass. According to him, this dome of heat creates a giant trap, keeping humidity and sunlight from breaking all while forcing the jet streams that could offer some relief in the complete opposite direction.

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Adding to the problem is the fact that the dome isn't a hollow one, but instead it's a massive pocket filled with heat and humidity that remains very low in the atmosphere.

Watch the video, below.

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Where does Bill Nye stand on climate change?

It should come as no surprise that Nye plans to vote for politicians that not only believe that climate change is real, but those he thinks will actually do something to help slow it down. Pointing towards some alternatives, Nye says that the answer to reducing fossil fuels and helping prevent these record heats from becoming our new normal lies in things like electric cars and nuclear energy.

But, he concedes, nuclear energy is a hot topic both personally and politically, and not something he is confident people will get on board with. That's why he's looking towards China's work with fusion energy as another possible alternative. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), fusion energy works by creating an energy source out of a controlled thermonuclear fusion reaction.

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That involves combining two nuclei to create a new nucleus, which is exactly what happens in space with the stars and even our very own sun. The resulting plasma then gets so hot that the atomic nuclei can't hold the electrons, which researchers are then able to control using fields. Once the temperatures are high enough, the end result becomes fusion, which creates energy. According to the DOE, this process doesn't create greenhouse gases and there is no long-lasting radioactive waste.

China is working on developing a fusion reactor, which Nye says is the direction he would like to see the U.S. go in as well. Of course, he laments, that would take a big buy in from the government. And with no clear action plan in place to combat the county's reliance on fossil fuels, Nye doesn't seem too confident it will happen unless we do get our 9/11 level climate change event. For all of our sakes, I hope he's wrong about that.

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