Congressman Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth) was almost through his town hall meeting in Austin last week when a constituent asked how he would address climate change. A recent report predicted global instability and massive displacement of whole populations if nothing is done.
He didn’t seem particularly worried.
“The climate has been changing since God created the world,” Hagedorn said. This was met with applause and a few cries of approval from the audience. “We used to be under an ice sheet here.”
He went on to say that if climate change was real, accelerated by human activity, and going to affect the United States in a negative way—which he didn't lend much credence to, but the overwhelming majority of scientists have been saying it for years—the “better way to mitigate it” would be to “deal with the effects and move people around rather than try to turn the economy upside-down.”
He didn’t go into detail, so it’s hard to know what exactly this would look like. After all, some of the fastest-warming places in the country are right here in Minnesota, and we can’t all take refuge in Duluth.
But someone stood up in the crowd to explain that a report he was dismissing was called “Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army,” and it was commissioned by General Mark Milley—a Trump appointee and currently the highest-ranking military officer in the country.
It warns that “tens (if not hundreds) of millions of people” will be displaced, creating “massive, enduring instability” and potentially leading to the collapse of the U.S. military—to say nothing of the nation’s infrastructure and power grid.
“Our military and our country are going to face the consequences,” the audience member said. “So, you’re ignoring our own Pentagon’s report and our own military’s report-”
Hagedorn chose that moment to interrupt.
“I’m not necessarily ignoring it. But I’m not going to turn our economy upside-down and change the way we deliver energy in the United States, because if we do, we’re going to make ourselves vulnerable." He then went into a convoluted criticism of the left that involved comparing fracking to wind power.
It’s worth noting that climate change is already forecasted to turn the economy “upside-down.” A recent report by Environmental Protection Agency staffers says that between health, infrastructure, water resources, agriculture, loss of human life, and other factors, it could end up costing the nation $224 billion per year by 2090.
Hagedorn didn't respond to interview requests about his plan, but he said in a statement that the Green New Deal was a "pie in the sky plan" and that he supported U.S. energy independence by pretty much any means necessary—including wind and solar.