Lawmaker Asks Head-Scratching Question About Changing Earth and Moon's Orbit to Fight Climate Change
"I would have to follow up with you on that one, Mr. Gohmert," a National Forest Service official responded with a laugh
Rep. Louie Gohmert received a dumbfounded laugh from a National Forest Service official on Tuesday when the Texas Republican asked if it was possible to somehow change the orbit of the moon and the Earth in order to combat climate change.
"Is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM [the Bureau of Land Management] can do to change the course of the moon's orbit or the Earth's orbit around the Sun?" Gohmert, 67, asked.
"Obviously, that would have profound effects on our climate," he added.
A few silent seconds passed before the official, the associate deputy chief of NFS, responded with a slight smile.
"I would have to follow up with you on that one, Mr. Gohmert," Jennifer Eberlien said before the committee hearing moved forward.
"Yeah?" Gohmert responded. "Well, if you figure out a way that you and the Forest Service figure can make that change, I'd like to know."
It was not clear whether Gohmert was being serious.
A spokesperson did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Gohmert prefaced his question by saying: "I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they found that the moon's orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth's orbit around the sun," adding that "we know there's been significant solar flare activities."
NASA has reported in the past that the Earth's orbit does not contribute to the immediate man-made climate change Gohmert appeared to be referencing.
While the Earth's orbit around the Sun does relate to long-term changes in climate, such as entering or exiting ice ages, NASA has said it only has a "relatively minor factor in annual seasonal climate variations."
Gohmert, a fierce conservative who has represented Texas' 1st district since 2005, has made false statements about the science behind climate change for years.
In a 2015 interview, he wrongly suggested the world was actually "cooling" and that global warming was a "good thing" because it would "warm" up the planet.
He also said in that interview that more carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere might be a good thing. (It is not, according to NASA, which says rising carbon dioxide levels are "forcing" climate change.)
Gohmert has a 4 percent lifetime rating by the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group that tracks lawmakers' votes regarding the environment.
Critics online responded to Gohmert on Twitter, with some asking whether he was "joking," and others bashing him for the "embarrassing" science question.