First, it was undeniable. Now, it’s unstoppable.
In his new book, “Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World,” Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye addresses a “New Greatest Generation” -- today’s young leaders who embrace science and optimism for a viable future. While Bill can be described as unstoppable (he wrote this book while seeing LightSail through its test flight, hosting the Humans Orbiting Mars workshop, visiting the U.S. President on Earth Day, celebrating New Horizons’ Pluto flyby and more), his new book is about a movement, not one man.
As a child of the hypercolor 80s, teen of the mosh-pit 90s, and young adult of the 2000s - a time of post 9/11 policies, media and social trends - I’ve thought a lot about movements. “Unstoppable” is a big step forward for the movement of our time, the movement for our future. As Bill emphasizes, this movement is about us - all of Earth’s citizens - and what’s possible when science and optimism prevail.
A follow-up to his New York Times bestseller, “Undeniable,” it’s about choices we face, facts to inform us and actions we take as a world community. It’s the latest in Bill’s work to inspire people to preserve our “planetary home” and explore the cosmos through the beauty and empowerment of science.
The son of World War II veterans (his mother and father), Bill’s bright kind of patriotism honors past generations’ heroes while amplifying today’s. Turn it up loud, he says. Let’s change the world. And people are onboard.
“Unstoppable” addresses the Earth climate change crisis and the movement to do something about it. A history lesson for today’s climate action leaders, Bill writes about Carl Sagan -- Planetary Society co-founder, Bill’s astronomy professor at Cornell University and unforgettable advocate for Earth and exploration. Examining Venus and Earth, Sagan led pioneering comparative climatology studies and was outspoken about global warming. He described it as the environmental crisis of our time: nearly 20 years ago (“Billions and Billions,” 1997). Without a mass-movement, calls for change were met with questions, counteraction and small spigot drips of progress when a deluge was due. Today, things are different. The “New Greatest Generation” can take its planetary home and future into its hands.
Space exploration is key in “Unstoppable.” The movement for science includes surging public support for space. One chapter, “The Case for Space,” describes the return on investment humanity achieves through (comparatively small) investments in space science. Another, “Do Humans Have a Destiny in Space?,” addresses our innate urge to explore the cosmos beyond our Pale Blue Dot, our “planetary home.”
While the creative community crafts tantalizing fictional visions of what’s possible, the science community sparks momentum to explore other worlds like never before. Government space agencies and private sector industries are key, but it’s the citizen power behind this push - students, teachers, kids, parents, artists, engineers, people of all walks of life -- that’s equally exciting. Within the year that Andy Weir’s book, “The Martian,” became a blockbuster film, NASA made strides with its Journey to Mars plans in the wake of Orion’s successful test mission. Last week, NASA announced a new wave of astronaut recruitment to match the new era for human spaceflight. The Planetary Society published the Humans Orbiting Mars workshop report and, at our 35th Anniversary Celebration, NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman reminded revelers that space exploration is not about individuals, but collective effort: While the journey to Mars will be NASA-led, it requires a collective effort: we invite the world to be part of it. In “Unstoppable,” Bill highlights LightSail as a close-to-home example of how passionate people are to support space exploration.
He reminds us that we are are all inherently explorers, a message brought to music in melodysheep’s music video, “Beyond the Horizon.”
How will history books define today’s generations? Our successes, our failures, and character? As part of the New Greatest Generation, the answer is in your hands.
Congratulations, Bill, on this latest giant leap to change the world!