Bill Nye “the Science Guy” suggested during an episode of his new Netflix series that “extra kids” are a burden to the earth’s environment and that governments should consider penalizing parents who decide to raise large families.
For the final installment of “Bill Nye Saves the World,” which premiered on April 21, Nye interviewed a panel of guests to discuss birth control and earth’s “people problem.”
One of the panelists was Travis Rieder, an ethicist at Johns Hopkins University, who said he believes that population is “a variable to be addressed in mitigating and adapting to climate change.”
Adding that “population is one of the main drivers of climate change,” Rieder said that individuals in developed countries produce more carbon and therefore have more of an effect on the climate than people in underdeveloped nations.
“And so the people who have the highest fertility rate, like in Niger, are doing almost no emitting,” Rieder said. “The average Nigerian emits 0.1 metric tons of carbon annually. How many does the average American emit? Sixteen metric tons is what the average [American emits].”
Referring to his own children, Rieder said that his “two kids are way more problematic” for the earth’s climate than children in Nigeria.
Nye then asked Rieder, “So should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?”
“So, I do think we should at least consider it,” Rieder responded.
“Well, ‘at least consider it’ is like, ‘do it,’” Nye stated.
“One of the things that we could do that’s kind of least policy-ish is we could encourage our culture and our norms to change,” Rieder added.
The remarks from Nye and Rieder drew criticism from many, including another panelist on the show, Rachel Snow of the United Nations Population Fund.
“I would take issue with the idea that we do anything to incentivize fewer children or more children. … It’s justice and human rights,” she said. “People should have the number of children they want and the timing of children and if some families have five or six children, God bless them, I mean, that’s fine. But most people end up with fewer.”
David Klinghoffer of the Discovery Institute described the exchange between Nye and Rieder as “truly disturbing.”
“‘Considering’ the idea of punishing people who exceed a maximum allotted number of kids perfectly expresses the eugenicist ethic,” he wrote in a blog post. “It is totalitarian. … The notion of punishing parents for bringing extra ‘emitters’ into the world is spiteful, inhuman, and frightening because academics and ‘ethicists’ aren’t dismissed out of hand for entertaining it.”
In an online review of “Bill Nye Saves the World,” the Christian apologetics ministry Answers in Genesis said that Nye’s comments reveal that he has no foundation for morality.
“Remember, Bill Nye has no foundation on which to offer any kind of morality,” the AiG review states. “As an atheist, he has rejected God’s word as the authority. He claims there is no Creator who sets the rules. So who decides what’s right and wrong? It’s nothing more than his opinion grounded in nothing but his (or, at best, the majority’s) opinion. He has no foundation for morality.”
Although Nye describes himself as “the Science Guy,” his background rather is in mechanical engineering, and he only holds “honorary doctorate of science” degrees from supportive educational institutions. As previously reported, he routinely uses his platform to promote evolution and criticize the biblical creation account.