Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson says global warming is actually good, unless you’re in Africa. Now fellow Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene is advancing an even more nuanced and incisive take: that people during the Ice Age were not coughing up their hard-earned money to stop climate change, so why should we?
“People are not affecting climate change. You’re going to tell me that back in the Ice Age, how much taxes did people pay and how many changes did governments make to melt the ice?” Greene began. “The climate is going to continue to change. And there is no reason to just open up our borders and allow everyone in and continue to funnel over $50 billion or however many billions of dollars or trillions of dollars to foreign countries all over the world simply because they don’t like the climate change.”
Of course, people were not paying taxes, or using money (at least in the contemporary sense), during the Ice Age millions of years ago. So, not much opportunity for collective action or investment toward environmental protection. But they also wouldn’t have needed to do so in the same way we must: There was no bloated fossil fuel industry at the time, wreaking havoc on their environment and accelerating unnatural climate changes.
And to Greene’s tirade about “open borders”: America plays a large role in ratcheting up climate change, and therefore ratcheting up climate change consequences, like more climate refugees. Beyond America always purporting to be a beacon of hope for people everywhere, it is also liable to people in developing countries, where the consequences of climate change are happening in real time.
Greene’s suggestion that America ought not funnel money toward other countries “simply because they don’t like climate change” is off-kilter for a few reasons. For one, it’s not clear where Green’s $50 billion figure comes from. America’s formal financial commitment for climate aid is now back to $1 billion, after the Trump administration zeroed it all out.
Moreover, Greene doesn’t follow her own line of testimony to its logical conclusion: If it’s bad for the United States to send money elsewhere because those countries “don’t like” climate change, and she is so concerned with “America First,” and droughts and wildfires and severe flooding and power outages are crippling America as we speak, we should be throwing money at every domestic climate change–stabilizing and mitigating operation we can.
But such straightforward reasoning might be a stretch too far for someone concerned with the taxpayers of the Ice Age.