POLITICS
03/29/2017 03:52 pm ET Updated Mar 29, 2017

Badly Misinformed Lawmaker Thinks Our 'Warm Bodies' May Be Causing Climate Change

Spoiler alert: Republican Scott Wagner is very wrong.

A Republican state senator running for governor of Pennsylvania shared some unusual views this week about what’s causing climate change. 

Scott Wagner told a Harrisburg audience on Tuesday that the body heat from the planet’s growing population might be responsible for rising temperatures.  

“We have more people. You know, humans have warm bodies. So is heat coming off?” Wagner said, according to State Impact Pennsylvania, an NPR project. “Things are changing, but I think we are, as a society, doing the best we can.”

The lawmaker was speaking to a receptive audience of rural county officials about loosening regulations on the natural gas industry.

At another point, Wagner appeared to conflate global warming with ... well, it’s not quite clear what he meant.

“I haven’t been in a science class in a long time, but the earth moves closer to the sun every year ― you know, the rotation of the earth,” Wagner said. “We’re moving closer to the sun.”

State Sen. Scott Wagner may need a refresher science class.
Scott Wagner
State Sen. Scott Wagner may need a refresher science class.

The lawmaker is indeed a bit rusty on the basics of astronomy. Contrary to what Wagner said, the earth rotates on its axis every 24 hours, not every year. And it may come as a surprise to him that the United States and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere experience winter when the earth’s yearly orbit brings it closest to the sun. 

Scientists widely agree that the release of greenhouse gases from human activity is the primary force leading to climate change today. 

In a statement provided by a spokeswoman, Wagner said human activity is partly responsible for climate change ― although he implied that people shouldn’t take drastic action in response.

“I believe that the climate is changing every day, and some of that change is certainly manmade. I think that we have a responsibility to future generations to be good stewards, and I support efforts to do that,” Wagner said. “However, the real question isn’t is the climate changing but what role should the government play in trying to alter it. I believe we have to prioritize action in a measured way so that we do not hurt our economy.”

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