Future Tense

CNN Anchor to Bill Nye: Did Global Warming Cause the Asteroid That Will Soon Fly Past Earth?

Bill Nye, the Science Guy, in 2010

Photo by TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, an asteroid will come within 17,000 miles of the Earth—“a very close shave” by space standards, as my colleague Phil Plait puts it on Bad Astronomy. Recently, Bill Nye the Science Guy went on CNN to discuss the phenomenon—and anchor Deb Feyerick opened with a rather odd question: “Is this an effect of perhaps global warming?”

Nye was decent enough to ignore the question altogether, after a little bit of rambling about how meteor and meteorology are etymologically related. You can sort of see how Feyerick might have made the mistake. The segment immediately preceding the bit on the asteroid was apparently devoted to climate change and extreme weather, and the awkward segue is a staple of TV news. But how often do we get to laugh about climate change and asteroids that just miss destroying the planet at the same time?