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Bill Nye says record-breaking extreme heat a taste of the normal of the future

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(WASHINGTON) — After a week of record-breaking extreme heat across the nation, science educator Bill Nye told “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz that the extreme heat and flooding making headlines is “a taste of the new normal.”

“The latest research is that there’s not a turning point or a tipping point or a knee in the curve. It’s just gonna get hotter and hotter and worse and worse and more and more extreme,” Nye said Sunday. “So this is a taste of the normal of the future, unless we humankind get to work and address it.”

More than 100 million Americans across 27 states are under heat alerts Sunday from coast to coast, including two of the nation’s largest cities, New York and Los Angeles.

Extreme heat is the leading cause of weather-related fatalities, according to the National Weather Service.

Research has shown that extreme heat waves like these have been amplified due to human-induced climate change, which has increased the intensity, frequency and length of many naturally occurring weather events.

The average number of heat waves that major U.S. cities experience each year has doubled since the 1980s, according to the federal government’s fifth National Climate Assessment.

“Our [ABC News Chief Meteorologist and Chief Climate Correspondent] Ginger Zee talks about climate change a lot, global warming,” Raddatz told Nye. “What do we need to do right now, in your view?”

“The first thing is talk about climate change,” Nye said. “If we were talking with our families and friends and people we vote for about climate change, we’d be much more inclined to do something about it.”

“And then the other thing I always say is vote,” he added. “We have a situation right now here in the United States where one side, one political party isn’t acknowledging the problem, let alone coming up with a plan to do something about it. Furthermore, the other side is kowtowing — is doing what the fossil fuel industry wants to do.”

A recent Quinnipiac poll found that only 4% of registered voters consider climate change the most urgent issue facing the country today.

Democrats and Republicans have also grown further apart on climate change and environmental issues in recent years, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

Some Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have repeatedly called climate change a “hoax.” Trump has said that, if elected in November, he would roll back many of the Biden administration’s climate policies.

“If you meet with people who don’t believe in climate change, don’t believe in global warming — and there are a lot of them — what do you say to them? What do you say to them to convince them?” Raddatz asked Nye.

“If I could convince people in one sitting that would be fabulous, but that is proven quite difficult,” Nye said. “The problem we have in climate change is we don’t have a 9/11 or a Pearl Harbor. It’s slow motion.”

Meanwhile, some environmental activist groups, like the Sunrise Movement, have long been calling on Biden to declare a national climate emergency and take what they consider to be more aggressive action to combat climate change in the U.S.

Raddatz asked Nye about the push for a national climate emergency on Sunday, saying, “Some advocates are pushing for President Biden to declare a national climate emergency. Is that something that he should do, in your view?”

“I don’t know how well that would work,” Nye said. “People who are already inclined to dismiss what he says will just be that much more dismissive, perhaps. What we want to do is get everybody to work together to acknowledge that we have this problem. And I, as I say, I strongly believe that the United States has to lead the world.”

Nye explained that part of his work has been pointing out that humans are causing climate change.

“We’re doing it because we’ve created this wonderful quality of life for so many people by burning ancient carbon — ancient swamps — coal, oil, gas. We just got to stop doing that,” he said. “And so there are many alternative sources of energy, but we have to work together to share it. And I’m talking about transmission lines and energy storage, as well as developing more efficient renewable sources at the same time.”

ABC News’ Kenton Gewecke and Dan Peck contributed to this report.

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