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Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert suggests that climate change is caused by Earth’s orbit around the sun, and to fix it, he’s thinking maybe a government agency could alter its path.
The comments came during a House Natural Resources hearing Tuesday. During the conversation, Gohmert conflated the ideas of climate change, planetary orbit, and solar flares—asking if the National Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management could ultimately move the moon or Earth.
“We know there’s been solar flare activity, and so is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun?” Rep. Gohmert asked during the meeting. “Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate.”
It was unclear if this was a sarcastic question, or if Gohmert was asking in earnest.
After the question, several seconds of silence followed before anyone spoke. Jennifer Eberlein, associate deputy chief for the National Forest System, finally said she’d “get back” to Gohmert.
The Republican's comments are rooted in the false idea that climate change (and the impending climate catastrophe) is because of solar flares and the sun. Scientists have repeatedly debunked the idea. Yet, other members of the GOP have run with it and denied that the climate crisis is man-made.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has spoken out against the idea of cliamte change, telling NPR it’s a ploy by the left, and that it’s not backed by science.
Alabama Rep. Gary Palmer said humans aren’t to blame when it comes to climate change, according to journalist Bill Moyers.
“The science says global climate change is more a function of nature and solar activity than it is anything man does,” said Palmer.
Former Wisconsin Rep. Frank Sensenbrenner Jr. once wrote on his website: “I personally believe that the solar flares are more responsible for climatic cycles than anything that human beings do,” according to Moyers’ report.
In reality, the sun’s Total Solar Irradiance (TSI), or output, has actually been slightly decreasing since 1975, Dr. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies, told Carbon Brief.
Still, nearly one-third of the Senate and one-quarter of the House consists of people who are adamant that any kind of climate change is not caused by humans. Rep. Gohmert’s deep-red home state of Texas hosts the highest number of climate deniers elected to federal office, with 12 of the 38 members of Congress who believe that climate change and the associated science isn’t caused by humans, according to the Center for American Progress.
Texas just saw one of its worst winters on record, as ice and snow storms left 4.5 million homes without power and left more than 50 people dead, according to the Texas Tribune.
Still, instead of looking to scientists for answers on the freakish storms, the state’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, and Sen. Cruz got advice on how to handle the situation from climate denier Joe Bastardi. The weatherman believes climate change is naturally occurring, and that Democrats are weaponizing the crisis for political gain.