U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, appeared to stun a forest service official by suggesting the agency tackle climate change by changing the orbits of the Earth or the Moon.
The question came during a live meeting of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands subcommittee of the National Resources Committee on Tuesday and was followed by social media mockery.
“I understand from what has been testified, the Forest Service and the (Bureau of Land Management), you really want to work on the issue of climate change,” Gohmert began his question to Jennifer Eberlein, the deputy deputy chief of the National Forest System.
Gohmert said he understood that data from NASA showed that the orbits of the Earth and the Moon were “changing slightly.”
“So, is there anything the National Forest Service or BLM can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or Earth’s orbit around the sun? Obviously, that would have profound effects on our climate. “
Eberlein paused before responding, “I should contact you on this, Mr. Gohmert.”
“Yeah? Well, if you find a way for the Forest Service to make that change, I’d like to know,” Gohmert said.
Gohmert’s question was widely laughed at on social networks, including by members of Congress.
“I know the answer to Representative Louie Gohmert’s question,” the US Representative tweeted. Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California. “Captain Marvel. She can alter planetary orbits with her special powers. I’ll be working on a two-party resolution asking for her help.”
Gohmert’s idea was rejected by theoretical astrophysicist Katie Mack. She suggested two “equally painful possibilities” explained Gohmert’s question.
If the congressman thinks the Forest Service or the BLM could possibly move the orbits of the Earth or the moon, “he doesn’t understand how the orbits work,” Mack tweeted.
Or, Mack suggested that Gohmert was sarcastic, suggesting that tackling climate change is as impossible as changing those orbits.
Gohmert responded to the reaction on Twitter by pointing out that Tuesday’s hearing “was about the BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT & climate change”.
USA TODAY has contacted the National Forest Service for comment. The national forest system includes nearly 200 million acres of land managed by the Forest Service, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
Gohmert has a habit of making scientifically questionable claims. Last summer, Gohmert suggested he may have contracted COVID-19 from wearing a mask, despite health advice encouraging mask wear to reduce the spread of the virus.
Contribution: Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY