The State of the Union guest list was unveiled on Monday and many were surprised to learn that Bill Nye “the Science Guy” would be attending as the guest of a Republican congressman.
Nye, an outspoken critic of climate change deniers and President Trump’s roll back of climate change regulations, will attend as the guest of GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma.
Bridenstine himself has a history of denying humans’ role in climate change, but he’s reversed those claims in recent months since he was nominated by Trump to lead NASA.
At his confirmation hearing in November, the congressman acknowledged that “humans are contributing” to climate change.
Some critics still faulted Bridenstine for failing to state that humans are the major cause behind climate change. But apparently the change of heart was good enough for Nye.
“He’s changed his mind, and in science that’s generally a good thing,” Nye told Quartz this week. “I am hopeful that others will see the wisdom in the congressman’s evolving view and follow suit.”
Nye took to Twitter on Monday to further explain his decision, writing, “While the Congressman and I disagree on a great many issues – we share a deep respect for NASA and its achievements.”
He added that his attendance at the event should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the Trump administration and its attacks on the scientific community.
“You’d make more of a statement if you boycotted it,” said one commenter.
Some fans have even started a petition urging Nye to skip the State of the Union.
The former host of Bill Nye the Science Guy told PEOPLE in April that, if given the opportunity to confront Trump, he would tell the president that he was wrong to roll back climate change policies put in place by the Obama administration.
“If the president were listening, I’d tell him ‘you got that wrong,’” Nye said. “You don’t want to roll back those climate policies, for the main reason that climate change really is happening, because of humans, no matter what your colleagues and longtime associates in the fossil fuel industry may insist.”