Watch: John Oliver and Bill Nye Show Why Cable News Climate “Debates” Are So Ridiculous

Instead of a one-on-one faceoff, “Last Week Tonight” hosts one that is 97 against 3.

Bill Nye debates climate change surrounded by 96 other bow-tied scientists on John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight."Screenshot/HBO

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For over a decade, people like me have been explaining why so-called “balanced” coverage—in which journalists devote “equal time” to both sides of a “controversy”—is totally inappropriate when it comes to climate change. But many in the mass media,  especially cable shows, have continued to regularly host climate “debates” in which one skeptic debates one climate science defender…or, lately, in which one skeptic debates Bill Nye the Science Guy.

That’s what made John Oliver’s climate segment last night, on his new HBO show Last Week Tonight, so perfect. Not only did Oliver explain why there’s no debate at all over global warming; he then demonstrated what an actually appropriate televised debate might look like. Bill Nye appeared on set, as did a climate “skeptic,” but then 96 other scientists appeared at Nye’s side (hilariously crowding onto the set) while their opponent got two additional supporters. These numbers—97 and 3—were based on a now-world famous study of published climate science papers, showing that 97 percent of studies that took a stand on whether humans are warming the planet said the answer is “yes.”

Warning: If you watch this, you’ll never be able to watch a climate “debate” again without rolling your eyes:

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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