Like every one of the valiant citizens of this great and noble land called The United States of America, when I hear a leader of my fair nation speak about a matter in a way that I find questionable, where do I turn first to assure myself that my ears did not in fact perform some form of mental trickery? Why, to the Congressional Record, of course! (Wait. Hold up. Other Americans don’t go read the Congressional Record for fun? They go — where? — to the bar and drink themselves into oblivious bliss? Huh. Sounds better.)
Anyway, Utah’s own Senator Mike Lee stood on the floor of the dusty Senate chamber on March 26th and, as a Republican these days does best, bashed the Green New Deal that Democrats and most people who know better want to see gain some traction in the form of policy. The Senator — who often makes me wonder why I didn’t go into law, if guys like him can have a long career in it — opened his remarks about the Green New Deal with this quip:
…After reading the Green New Deal, I am mostly afraid of not being able to get through this speech with a straight face. I rise today to consider the Green New Deal with the seriousness it deserves. This is, of course, a picture of former President Ronald Reagan naturally firing a machine gun while riding on the back of a dinosaur.
The Senator did then produce the said picture of former President and Hollywood icon Ronald Wilson Reagan mounted atop a velociraptor with a mighty firearm in his hands:
You may, as I and many others did, take this to mean that Senator Lee takes the Green New Deal as a joke. Like his colleagues on the right in Congress and in America, Senator Lee brought up the usual conservative backlash buzzwords to rebuke the environmental policies that could help curb carbon emissions and global warming in the years ahead. See the following:
- The Green New Deal would get rid of airplanes, so his fellow citizens in the Midwest and in places like Alaska would have to rely on Tauntauns for transport, and Hawaiians would need to ride seahorses like Aquaman, since they don’t have the Northeast’s (a.k.a. “coastal states’) infrastructure to get around. (Is it Infrastructure Week yet, by the way?)
- The Green New Deal would call for the elimination of all cows, so Senator Lee went back home to Utah last week to speak to cows about their views on the proposals put forth by his co-workers to the left. The cows all said, in Lee’s words, “Boo.” They must feed their cattle well out there in Utah if they can understand the finer points of environmental legislation.
- The Green New Deal was not something that people in Midwestern states would need to worry about, nor would any politician from “other States” need to preach to Midwesterners about climate change. After all, Senator Lee said, viewers of the Syfy channel in 2016 knew of what happened in his home state of Utah, which was that — to quote Lee — “our own State was struck not simply by a tornado but by a tornado with sharks in it.” (Lee then put up a picture of the movie Sharknado 4: The Fourth Awakens.)
There’s no clear answer to whether or not Lee believes any of these ridiculous claims. The Green New Deal won’t get rid of cows or planes or make every human eat nothing but sunlight and water. But Lee likes to repeat these ridiculous fallacies that his fellow conservatives have drummed up, because he’s afraid that real change to how we treat our environment may shake his worldview. He hears people speaking in measured tones about increasing our use of solar and wind power over fossil fuels and he runs to save his car from the Communists who’ve come to rip its wheels off. The Green New Deal has plenty of good initiatives within it to create a good new nation, if not a great new world. But with politicians like Lee cupped in the hands of opposing lobbyists and entrenched in capitalist individualist doctrine, it doesn’t matter what infrastructure in his home state could get upgraded or how many jobs the state of Utah could create.
Climate change is no joke, but the Green New Deal is a joke. It is the legislative equivalent of Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil demanding sharks with ‘‘frickin’ lasers’’ on their heads.
“So, Senator Lee,” I asked to my computer screen, as I read the senator’s blustering comments on the Green New Deal, “if this proposal isn’t the answer to climate change, then what do you propose?”
The Senator then said exactly what I thought he was going to say:
Do you know where the solution can be found? In churches, in wedding chapels, and in maternity wards across the country and around the world. This is the real solution to climate change: Babies.
“The solution to so many of our problems at all times and in all places is to fall in love, get married, and have some kids,” the Senator said, concluding his remarks. His logic: More babies equals more people in the future destined to tackle the problem of climate change, even if the problem of climate change has already become irreversible by that point, even if most of the people who had kids find themselves underwater by that point, even if those people don’t just live in the Republican-feared “coastal cities”, but in red counties in Florida, Alabama, Texas, California, and other states on the coasts that don’t bleed bright blue and have a keen interest in keeping their heads and homes above sea level.
Senator Lee won’t take climate change with an inch of serious thought. You might say that he just ripped on the Green New Deal and not climate change as a whole, but his comments drip with a sarcasm that go beyond policy. If he’s using time on the Senate floor to mock a proposal with curated memes and vouch for the oft-repeated conservative talking point of “everyone should get into a heterosexual God-fearing marriage and have a family of fifty screaming mouths to feed, and fuck ’em if they can’t,” then he doesn’t seem to care whether or not America sinks into the sewers.
But look: Let’s play Lee’s game. Let’s imagine that Americans do take his word and have more kids. We’ll make up a number. If 10,000 couples across the country have two or three kids each, then we’ve got about 25,000 citizens in the next generation ready to stand up in the face of the oncoming heatwave, put their meat-fed heads together, and come up with the solution to climate change that their parents fought about for so many years.
Imagine, Mr. Senator, that you wake up one morning, years after you’ve retired from your hard and noble work hanging up memes on the Senate floor. You feel a prick of heat on your arm and believe that you’ve left the damn thermostat up too high again. Silly you! As you pass by your window, you notice a strange orange gleam shine in your eye. Look through the blinds, Senator. That’s not the Sun coming up over the Utah horizon. That’s not the bright smile of an American youth thanking you for your service to the American people.
That’s the fire of 25,000 children standing on your front lawn, staring up at your window, their skin red and chafed from UV rays singeing their pores.
That’s the fire of 25,000 acres of land sizzling under the heat of the derision, the lack of responsibility, and the deflection you handed down to a new generation so many years ago.
That’s the fire of Satan burning within you. Oh, but Satan isn’t working to make you sin against your fellow citizen, Senator. You already did that. Satan’s here to tell you that you did a major move against the one you call “the Son of God who took upon himself the sins of mankind and made it possible for us to receive forgiveness and to be resurrected after this life.” But oh, says Satan, you don’t get that resurrection now. All of these children won’t forget the years you spent letting their home burn. And so, in their minds and in the minds of many of their children, which they will have at your perennial request, you’ll burn, too, Senator. You’ll burn too.
And Senator, while you burn, I suggest you listen to Green Lung, a band from London with a sound like a new generation of Sabbath. Their new album Woodland Rites, with the lead single “Let The Devil In”, is out now. If you know anything about witches — a topic on which Green Lung touches upon in detail on Woodland Rites — you know that most of their work happens while frolicking in the forests of the world, perhaps right in your own backyard. If you seek to procrastinate on climate change, Senator, because you know that a lack of forests will lead to a lack of witches, then you may find yourself better off making peace with the coven. +