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Rep. Gohmert asks whether federal agencies can fix climate change by altering orbit of the Earth and moon

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During a Tuesday hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Louie Gohmert seemed to float a novel idea for solving the climate crisis: changing the orbits of the Earth and moon. 

Gohmert, R-Texas, posed that highly speculative theory in the form of a question to Jennifer Eberlien, associate deputy chief of the National Forest System. 

Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) speaks to the media during the opening day of the 115th Congress in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, in 2017. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

“I understand, from what’s been testified to the Forest Service and the BLM [Bureau of Land Management], you want very much to work on the issue of climate change,” Gohmert told Eberlien. “I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they’ve found that the moon’s orbit is changing slightly, and so is the Earth’s orbit around the sun. We know there’s been significant solar flare activities, 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? Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate.”

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Taken a bit off guard, Eberlien responded, “I would have to follow up with you on that one, Mr. Gohmert.” 

As video clips of the exchange began circulating, Gohmert lashed out at critics who mocked the idea that altering our planet’s orbit was a viable or wise solution to climate change. Specifically, he took issue with those he said had conflated the Bureau of Land Management and Black Lives Matter, which share the same initials. 

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Yahoo News reached out to the congressman’s office in Washington to ask whether Gohmert had meant his question sarcastically and if he now believed that climate change is a problem that lawmakers need to address, and was referred to a subsequent tweet. 

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While it is true that the moon’s orbit is changing slightly, that is a function of ocean tides on Earth, according to NASA. The Earth’s orbit around the sun is irregular and subject to wobbling, thanks to gravitational interactions with Jupiter and Saturn, NASA explains on its website.

While NASA has pointed to research conducted by Serbian scientist Milutin Milankovitch suggesting that “changes in Earth’s position relative to the sun are a strong driver of Earth’s long-term climate, and are responsible for triggering the beginning and end of glaciation periods (Ice Ages),” the agency makes no mention of the prospect of humankind devising a way to change the orbit of either the Earth or the moon. At present, no government agency on the planet has put forth a plan to address climate change in this fashion. 

Long a climate change denier, Gohmert in 2015 mocked Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore over their advocacy to address global warming, saying that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was a good thing because it meant “we’ll have more plants.”

In 2016 Gohmert was interviewed by Steve Bannon on Breitbart News radio on whether climate change should be a top priority for lawmakers. 

“It seems like when you hear somebody say over and over again that climate change is our biggest problem, they don’t know that climate has been changing a lot worse all over the millennia of mankind,” Gohmert said. 

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