Perhaps Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert should leave science to the scientists.
Science is not Louie Gohmert’s strong suit, which is a real shame because the man sure talks a lot about it. He refused to wear a mask to slow the spread of coronavirus, saying that he would only wear one if he got it — and then he got it. He’s suggested, in a scenario he constructed where humanity has to send people to Mars to preserve the species, that gay people would spell doom for us all.
Now Gohmert is takin’ a crack at climate change, and he’s pretty sure that the fact the Earth’s temperature is rising is actually a good thing because it means “there is more time for crops to grow.”
Here’s Gohmert’s basic theory, which is bad and wrong, but if you turn it sideways and squint while catching just the right light, you can maybe see what he’s getting at: Gohmert believes that if the planet warms up a little — “not too much warmer,” he said — that will create conditions that will allow crops to grow for longer. This, he argues, will produce “more food and fewer people starving.”
There’s a seed of truth in here, which makes it all the more dangerous because that’s the one that will grow if you let it. The fact is that in the short term, some places will in fact enjoy longer growing seasons due to higher temperatures, and some crops do actually thrive in warmer temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels. But that is not a lasting effect, especially when we aren’t controlling the rate of warming. There is a period when a runaway train is just making record time, but eventually it’s going to go off the track and end in disaster.
Gohmert seems to not recognize this reality. At the rate that the planet is warming, whatever short-term boost in food production that may occur will quickly dry up and become a crisis-level shortage.
Studies have found that the types of crops that represent the majority of global caloric intake will be significantly hampered by rising temperatures and changing conditions that will make growing seasons less predictable. There’s also the fact that droughts and heat waves will be more common. It is projected that as many as 3 billion people could be food insecure by 2100 if we fail to address climate change. Meanwhile, the plants that will thrive will be weedy, invasive, and not the kind that you want to keep around. Biodiversity will tank as the planet warms, and the ecosystems we count on to allow us to grow food will suffer.
Gohmert is not the guy you want to go to for climate change information. The man once asked the associate deputy chief for the National Forest System if her agency could “change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun” as a simple solution to climate change. While adjusting planetary orbits is not one of them, there are simple and achievable solutions available to combat climate change. It starts with cutting our reliance on fossil fuels. Gohmert either knows this and is intentionally obfuscating it because it hurts his own interests (he’s gotten nearly half a million in campaign funds from the oil and gas industry), or he’s just exceptionally wrong all the time. With this guy, it’s kind of a toss-up.