Senate GOP leader: Minnesotans won't 'complain' about global warming

After a climate emergency was declared in Minneapolis, Minnesota Senate Republican Paul Gazelka chastised officials for "scaring Minnesotans."

After a climate emergency was declared in Minneapolis, Minnesota Senate Republican Paul Gazelka chastised officials for "scaring Minnesotans." Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Minneapolis has made up its mind. Climate change is an emergency.

The city's Friday declaration comes with demand for “a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address the consequences and causes of climate change,” including establishing a “social cost” to carbon and partnering with other cities to raise clean energy standards.

If you asked the 11,000 scientists who, last month, warned of “untold suffering” if the world didn’t act rapidly to cut carbon emissions, they’d probably tell you it was about damn time—if not too late.

No one asked Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa). But on Saturday, Gazelka tweeted anyway, offering this dismissive response to a WCCO story about the Minneapolis pronouncement.

A few of the folks in his replies were alarmed that a person in Gazelka’s position would be so blasé about this. It’s not that surprising, given he similarly dismissed Gov. Tim Walz’s creation of a subcabinet on climate change earlier this month.

(Gazelka didn’t respond to interview requests.)

Minnesota is one of the fastest-warming states in the nation. A couple of our counties have already hit the 2-degree (Celsius) mark scientists have warned about since the 2015 Paris accord.

And Minnesotans have already been feeling the burn—with warmer winters, crop-busting drought, and the alarming frequency of so-called “hundred-year floods” that effectively wash away topsoil. The Mississippi River laps into our cities regularly.

Our lakes freeze later and thaw sooner. Pests, parasites, and poisonous algae are thriving. Forests are receding, distinctive wildlife becoming scarcer and scarcer as it flees to the north—all promised omens that a changing climate means a changing way of life.

To Gazelka's point, Minnesotans are already "complaining." The last large-scale youth climate strike in our state was a little over a week ago. 

A recent report commissioned by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, a Trump appointee, warns “tens (if not hundreds) of millions of people” would be displaced by climate change, creating “massive, enduring instability” and potentially leading to the literal collapse of the U.S. military. Environmental Protection Agency staffers estimated we’d end up spending $224 billion dealing with its catastrophic effects by 2090, including water resources, agriculture, and the loss of human life.

We are going to agree with Gazelka on one thing. Panic is not the answer. The last thing we need is to become paralyzed by the magnitude of what we’re facing. But it's also the last chance to ensure a life of any kind for generations of Minnesotans. 

Or, in other words: