Watch CBS News

Bill Nye surprises Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at South by Southwest festival

What is the Green New Deal?
What is the Green New Deal? 01:20

Bill Nye, beloved host of the television show "Bill Nye the Science Guy," surprised Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez while she spoke at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival Saturday night in Austin. He asked her a question about the impact of fear in stemming progressive issues, such as climate change.

After the New York lawmaker was told the following question would be her last, viewers can hear her scream, "Oh my gosh," as Nye appeared at a microphone, in a video posted by TicToc by Bloomberg. After the television personality jokingly told the audience, "I can't take selfies with everyone," he asked Ocasio-Cortez if she had a plan to work with those whose fear prevents them from supporting progressive issues.

"People are just afraid of what will happen if we try to make these big changes," Nye said. "When we address climate change, we're going to have clean water, access to the internet and renewable electricity for everyone on Earth."

AOC Surprised by Bill Nye at SXSW by TicToc by Bloomberg on YouTube

The freshman congresswoman responded to Nye's question after applause from the shocked audience died down — and she finished a brief chant of "Bill! Bill! Bill!" She spoke about dismantling fear and urged people to speak out about the issues they believe in. She finished her answer stating, "Courage begets courage. So, the first person who stands up has to encounter the most amount of fear and discomfort, but once that one person stands up, it becomes immensely easier for the second person and the third."

After the surprise, the pair posed for a selfie together and Nye tweeted his support of the representative. "AOC gets it," he tweeted Saturday night. "She sees that fear is dividing us. We can address income inequality. We can address climate change, if we get together and get to work."

Ocasio-Cortez introduced the "Green New Deal" with Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Ed Markey in February. The initiative's goal is to convert the entire U.S. economy to renewable energy within 12 years, while also sparking a massive burst of job-creation and technological innovation. Nye has been a longtime advocate for science and the importance of tackling the issue of climate change.

The lawmaker also spoke about a wide range of issues during her talk, including capitalism and political moderates.

Inside the Green New Deal 08:12
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.