U.S. News

Bill Nye on polar vortex: Weather of the future?

The cold science of freezing temperatures

Bill Nye, "The Science Guy," posed a dire question for those still huddled around a space heater.

What if the arctic blast of frigid air sweeping through the country Tuesdayclosing airports and causing frostbite warningsbecomes a regular occurrence?

"What if this is the future?" Nye said Tuesday on "Squawk on the Street." "What if this polar vortex is the way it's going to be often over the coming decades. We're not really set up for it. And we're in the developed world. We are in a place where we have all this infrastructure and a means for most people to keep warm."

(Read more: Arctic travel conditions tie up US planes, trains)

Polar vortex business impact

Such a grave scenario could wreak havoc on the national economy as transportation infrastructure and agricultural industries in many regions can't handle subzero or below-freezing temperatures, said Nye, the children's show host turned director of The Planetary Society.

As the Midwest saw thermometers dip well below zero, and the South saw temperatures hover around freezing Tuesday, Nye said he fielded frequent questions from global warming skeptics.

"People say to me, 'Are you saying the world is getting warmer, and it's cold like this?'" Nye said. "Well, just check us out on Friday. It will be 60 degrees in some places in the United States. ... Otherwise, we're just not ready for these kinds of rapid changes and I don't know our agricultural systems are set up for it."

(Read more: Chart of the Day: Cold enough to freeze YOUR gas?)

Pilot Hank Cain captured this image of a frozen Chicago from a United Express flight from Washington D.C. to the Windy City.
Photo: Hank Cain

On smaller level, arctic temperatures affect everything from your car tires to your smartphone, Nye said. Cold air could distort the shape of your car tires, and cut down battery life in electronics. At Tuesday's coldest temperatures, even jet fuel becomes slushy.

"That's really unusual," Nye said. "This sort of thing slows everything down. When you slow down transportation, you slow down the economy. And this is not in anybody's best interest."

—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street."