Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay Secretary of Transportation, has publicly criticized a climate change joke made by Representative Doug LaMalfa during a recent House Transportation & Infrastructure Hearing. Buttigieg’s comments came in the wake of the White House’s announcement of the newly-formed American Climate Corps, a workforce aimed at combatting climate change nationwide.
During the hearing, Buttigieg responded to LaMalfa’s jest by asserting, “What I can tell you is climate change is real, and we’ve got to do something about it.” LaMalfa, however, retorted, “Yeah, this one is called autumn, sir,” attempting to dismiss the issue with a seasonal reference.
Buttigieg, seemingly perplexed, sought clarification, prompting LaMalfa to repeat his quip. The exchange continued with LaMalfa persisting, “This climate change right now is called autumn, yes,” to which Buttigieg firmly responded, “Yeah, that’s the seasons changing which respectively is not the same as the climate changing.”
Climate change, characterized by long-term shifts in weather patterns and atmospheric conditions, has been substantiated by decades of scientific measurements and observations. It is widely recognized as a phenomenon driven by human activities, particularly the release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion, leading to global warming, sea ice loss, sea level rise, and more severe weather events.
However, some climate change denialists have attempted to equate it with seasonal fluctuations. This controversy remains prevalent among conservative circles, with claims that the existence of winter and cold weather refutes the reality of climate change.
In response to the pressing issue of climate change, President Joe Biden’s administration has introduced the American Climate Corps, a program that aims to train and employ 20,000 individuals for land restoration, clean energy initiatives, and community resilience efforts. This program will provide a pathway into civil service careers and represents one of many investments made by the administration to combat climate change, reduce fossil fuel use, and promote clean energy development.