During a House Transportation & Infrastructure Hearing on Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg rebuked a climate change joke made by California Republican Representative Doug LaMalfa, who dismissed Buttigieg's concerns about the climate crisis as simply "autumn."
Buttigieg responded to LaMalfa during the hearing, stating that "climate change is real, and we've got to do something about it." He also appeared incredulous after LaMalfa referred to the larger problems within our global climate system as simply "autumn," referring to the changing seasons.
When Buttigieg asked for clarification because he "couldn’t make out" what LaMalfa said, LaMalfa responded:
"This climate change right now is called autumn, yes."
A frustrated Buttigieg quickly shut him down, saying:
“Yeah, that’s the seasons changing which respectfully is not the same thing as the climate changing and as someone who's hoping to retire in the 2050s and who has kids who will be old enough to ask me as they get into their 30s whether we did enough to deal with climate change or whether we did what was convenient, I take that pretty seriously."
A still dismissive LaMalfa said Buttigieg was taking up too much of his time, voicing his opposition to spending "trillions and trillions" to "chase a tiny percentage of CO2 [that] will bankrupt all of us."
You can watch their exchange in the video below.
It's important to note that climate change pertains to long-term alterations in weather patterns and atmospheric conditions, as determined by extensive measurements and observations over decades or even centuries. These changes indicate a prolonged warming trend driven by human activities.
The release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels has been a major contributor to global warming. This has resulted in various consequences, such as the loss of sea ice, accelerated sea-level rise, more frequent and intense heatwaves, extreme weather events, prolonged droughts, widespread wildfires, and other environmental challenges
Despite the scientific consensus on climate change, some conservative climate change skeptics have incorrectly equated seasonal variations in weather with long-term climate changes. This confusion has led to arguments suggesting that cold weather or snowy winters disprove the existence of climate change or its role in global warming.
Many have criticized LaMalfa after footage of the exchange went viral.
Others have praised Buttigieg's Blunt yet polite response.
The exchange between Buttigieg and LaMalfa came the same day the Biden administration announced the launch of the American Climate Corps, a workforce development program expected to employ up to 20,000 individuals on land restoration, clean energy development, community resilience against natural disasters, and other climate change mitigation efforts.
LaMalfa has said that the "climate of the globe has been fluctuating since God created it" and has gone on record saying the Book of Genesis disproves the scientific consensus on climate change, which he has called "bad science."
He has consistently opposed the scientific consensus that humans are responsible for changes to the global climate system, saying he doesn't "buy the idea that manmade activity is responsible." He further claimed that wildfires in his home state of California were the result of "poor land management by state and federal agencies."