“This is the real solution to climate change: babies.”

By now you have no doubt seen clips of a smirking Senator Lee of Utah pull America’s leg with his take-down of the Green New Deal from the floor of the “world’s greatest deliberative body.” This was, after all, two news cycles ago. But because I’m a day late and a dollar short by nature, I’m just now getting around to soliciting your views on his solution to climate change:

This is the real solution to climate change: babies. Climate change is an engineering problem—not social engineering but the real kind. It’s a challenge of creativity, ingenuity and, most of all, technological innovation. And problems of human imagination are not solved by more laws. They’re solved by more humans. More people mean bigger markets for more innovation. More babies will mean forward-looking adults, the sort we need to tackle long term, large-scale problems.

American babies in particular are likely going to be wealthier, better educated and more conservation-minded than children raised in still industrializing countries.

(The transcription is my own; if you find any mistakes, feel free to keep them.)

While not explicitly religious, this moment of American exceptionalism in Lee’s presentation strikes me as at least in tune with the notion of America as a promised land that I am sure most members of the church will be familiar with. It’s no accident that the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ occurred in and proceeded from North America; as we teach our missionaries to teach others, “Joseph Smith lived in the United States, which was perhaps the only country to enjoy religious freedom at the time.” In light of the global civilizing mission American Mormons have been engaged in ever since, it is no surprise that an American Mormon would believe—and have the audacity to express out loud—that the solution to an intractable global problem will be raised in an American home. (On this note, see also this excerpt from a missionary memoir reviewed today on this very website: “We meet together in our little bubble and convince ourselves that we alone can save lost humanity.”)

In making his case, the only authority cited by the honorable senator from the great state of Utah was an economist rather than, say, a prophet—”By having more children, you’re making your nation more populous, thus boosting its capacity to solve climate change”—but I can’t help but feel that his religious upbringing was showing as Mike wrapped up his 14-minute presentation in a rare display of sincerity:

The courage needed to solve climate change is nothing compared with the courage needed to start a family…. The true heroes of this story…are moms and dads…little boys and girls…. The planet doesn’t need for us to think globally and act locally as much as it needs us to think family and act personally.

The solution to climate change is … the serious business of human flourishing. 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.

Now, I come from a family slightly larger than the one Brother Lee grew up in. I’m not going to claim that this experience gives me any special insights, but at the same time, I’ve gotta say—I have no idea what he’s talking about. I mean, kids aren’t a Blue Oyster Cult record—scaling up the advantages of more babies is anything but straightforward. Big families are undoubtedly good for some things—family reunions, for example, are a lot of fun—and not so good for others—like, say, making difficult decisions about how to care for dying parents. And along with a big family comes a big footprint and scarcity for all involved. (Go on, ask me how often I got a new pair of shoes growing up.) Since when was more automatically better? My peers from smaller families whose parents worked in the same fields as my parents had opportunities I didn’t, and small countries like Austria manage to flourish while larger countries like Afghanistan flounder.

So what’s your take on Lee’s eminently Mormon solution to climate change? Is there anything to his presentation besides a few cheap shots across the aisle and virtue signalling to a home crowd? Could more babies really be the solution to climate change?

Comments

  1. If Mike Lee had kids in part because he thought a new generation would come up with creative ideas to make this world a better place, why isn’t he listening to AOC, who is part of that generation, pitch creative ideas toward solving the climate crisis? Like at least engage her directly. This is a strange, deflective non sequitur.

  2. It’s the ultimate “kicking the problem down the road”; we’re not going to fix this, lets make babies who will be better than us. Then proceed to make jokes about “kids these days” eating tide pods.

    I do wish the solution to the thinking of “government is the problem” didn’t seem to be “let’s put people who are really bad at it to prove out point”. If it’s not working, why not put your energies into making it better?

  3. I think he was trying to bait Green New Deal proponents into saying something along the lines of wanting population control. It clearly didn’t work out that way.

  4. Did he come up with this solution after watching Saturday’s Warrior too many times?

  5. In his book “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming”, Paul Hawken puts Educating Girls and Family Planning at 51.48 gigatons each of CO2 reduction–items 6 and 7 respectively on his list of “solutions” and together greater than any other.

    Ever since reading this, I have been expecting reactionary push-back from the far right and the Mormon far right in particular. I think we have heard the opening salvo.

  6. This “solution” just shows he’s non-serious about the problem itself. I don’t have any real way to engage his ideas, but he’s not really engaging with the issue of climate control at all here.

  7. It’s not remotely a serious solution and Mike Lee knows that. It’s purely a culture war thing. “The people on the other side of the culture war talk about climate change, which is a thing they care about and we don’t, so we should talk about family, which is a thing we care about, but tell ourselves our culture war opponents don’t.” It has nothing at all to do with actual solutions or even content of arguments; it’s purely a stand-in for “I’m one of you.”

  8. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Having babies sucks your brain cells dry, eats up all your time, and leaves you with only enough energy to watch reality TV (is that cynical enough?). Not having babies allows one to focus on the problems of this world (climate change being only one). My friends who are engineers like playing legos with their kids, and enjoy managing the logistics of getting to multiple soccer practices while keeping their little ones fed, clothed, and cleaned. But just imagine what they could put their genius toward if they spent that time tackling “long term, large-scale problems.” Those problems could be solved in this generation, not the next.

  9. WayneFrank says:

    Senator Lee should realize that he is now in the “older” generation and that the generation he is looking forward to is here and with ideas to begin to tackle global climate change and it is precisely those ideas our good Senator is rejecting. He sounds like the man on the roof of his house in the middle of a flood praying for God’s help and rejecting help from the boats there to rescue him.

  10. Babies make Fat Bottom Girls… and Fat Bottomed Girls make the world go round… So I’m all in with Sen Lee!!

  11. Is it Lunch Time Yet? says:

    It may or may not surprise you that a very different type of public figure, Jeff Bezos, has said similar things in the past about climate change and the environment. I can’t find his exact quotes right now, the basic thrust of his point though is that environmentalists have it wrong by wanting to constrain and restrict. That all great advances have come from breaking out and masses of people trying and doing new things. That a positive and expanding view of humanity is the path to take.

    He and his soon to be ex-wife MacKenzie have 4 kids.

  12. Ben Shapiro called Mike Lee “low-key hilarious”. While I don’t find him that funny, you’ve got to look at the entire presentation, including the baby part, for what it is: ridicule of the Green New Deal and the people who proposed it. There are a lot of specific digs at specific people throughout, and the baby part is no different. Lee is making fun of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who earlier this month wondered aloud whether the world is so bleak that people should just quit having babies.

    Lee is probably sincere and serious about the notion that human ingenuity is the solution to climate change, and probably really does believe that having more children will benefit the United States, but this is really a dig at the right’s current favorite punching bag (whose many mistakes and head-scratching moments make her an easy target).

    As for my own view, no, climate change is not a problem that will be solved just by increasing the odds of birthing somebody able to solve it. But the Green New Deal was never a serious proposal either. For some reason, the most effective remedies (e.g. cap and trade) can’t ever get off the ground.

  13. Part of the solution is to prevent people like Lee from having babies.

  14. If what Dsc is true, then Senator Lee failed completely because he came out looking much worse than Alexandria Ocasio-Crotez.

  15. Brian,

    I don’t know. I think both come out pretty well with their respective bases, and look rather silly to everyone else. AOC’s botched roll out (publishing an explainer that clearly had not been vetted by Ed Markey’s office) combined with the simultaneously non-committal but unrealistically ambitious text of the Green New Deal (which reads more like the democratic party platform than a resolution intended to address its purported aim of reducing carbon emissions) and the failure of any supporter of the measure to actually vote for it don’t paint the Democrats as very thoughtful or serious about the issue. Meanwhile, Republicans continue to do the same song and dance they have done with healthcare by pointing out the failures of the Democratic plan without putting forward an alternative. I would be embarrassed for whole lot of lawmakers on the Hill were it not for the fact that they will probably still achieve their real goal of keeping their jobs.

  16. DSC, sure, but then again, this post is about Lee. It’s difficult to see that he got as much positive from this stunt of his as negative. But I tend to the more centrist sites, so hey, maybe the Republican base as it is really is cheering him on. It certainly provided plenty of scorn from others.

  17. Curious that he didn’t seem to limit having babies within the bonds of marriage. Hmmmm…….

  18. But at least he managed to get a bit of the YW motto in there: “at all times and in all places”

  19. Part of the architectural design process it to gather lots of ideas, no matter how absurd or impracticable they may seem, stretching boundaries and apparent limitations. It’s is part of the creative process.

    I see the GND as part of a similar process, botched as the announcement was handled. Yes, there are things proposed that may not be feasible or practical. Until we look at a lot of ideas we can’t find the best ideas.

    If he took climate and environmental issues seriously, he’d come up something other than baby pictures. He has no creativity. Lee and other troglodytes prefer the status quo.

  20. Solutions to climate change begin with leaders who are willing to lead. On the evidence here, Mike Lee prefers to be a clown.

    If Lee intended to mock Ocasio-Cortez, he only shows again how deeply she has frightened the Republicans. She represents a fresh, positive, forward-looking energy that the Republican Party can’t match. No one thought the Green New Deal would succeed as legislation. That wasn’t its purpose. It has succeeded in putting new ideas on the table–pushing the Overton window to the political left. Republicans recognize this tactic, because they, not the Democrats, are the ones who have been using it effectively for at least a generation. Now the Republicans have a regime built on fearful, revanchist attitudes about race, religion, and social status. Their intellectual cupboard is bare. They see the future coming in the form of youthful Democrats, and they can muster no better response than Lee’s debased buffoonery on the Senate floor.

  21. I don’t think the GND has moved the Overton window. I don’t think a proposal so unfocused and so clearly intended not to pass does anything other than stir up the base. The problem is that it has stirred up the base on both sides. I tend to associate with a lot of true independents and swing voters. My admittedly anecdotal experience is that this hasn’t moved the needle an inch for that group.

    The whole debacle from AOC to Lee has apparently, as evidenced by the comments here, further increased partisan name-calling.

  22. John Mansfield says:

    I have no thoughts any way or the other regarding Mike Lee, but I have followed for the past 15 years Tyler Cowen, the George Mason economist who wrote last week a Bloomberg column about fertility and global warming and who blogs at Marginal Revolution. Cowen wrote a couple years ago in response to a reader’s request a blog post on “Why I Don’t Believe in God.” However, he does have a deep belief that sustained economic growth is a moral good. His “Conversations with Tyler” podcast on that topic last fall with like-minded Rob Wiblin demonstrated a religious-like zeal to that principle that was at times disconcerting to listen to. Earlier this month, Cowen wrote another Bloomberg column on his recent re-reading of Genesis, viewing it as a tale of economic growth. One aspect of that was:

    Most of all, in the Genesis story, the population of the Middle East keeps growing. I’ve known readers who roll their eyes at the lists of names, and the numerous recitations of who begat whom, but that’s the Bible’s way of telling us that progress is underway. Neither land nor food supplies prove to be the binding constraints for population growth, unlike the much later canonical classical economics models of Malthus and Ricardo. Instead, sinning can lead to population destruction (as in the stories of Noah or Sodom and Gomorrah), or warfare can lead to a thinning of the ranks (such as when Simeon and Levi kill the males of Shechem to avenge the rape of Dinah). But those are growth problems quite separate from those of economics.

    In the Book of Genesis, the underlying model of economics is a pretty optimistic one, and that is another way in which Western history draws upon its Judeo-Christian roots.

    Among Tyler Cowen’s broad array of cultural interests has been a sometimes-voiced appreciation for Mormons. I don’t know what direct exposure Cowen has had to the saints, but his colleague Miles Kimball received his PhD from Harvard the same year Cowen did. Cowen would probably find it interesting to spend an hour with Nathan Sheets. Sheets, whose professional offices you can look up on Wikipedia, has his economics PhD from MIT, and a year ago became president of the Washington DC stake.

  23. I think Lee has won this round on points. He used the absurd to point out that the GND is itself absurd. He also got every Senator to help make his point. With zero votes for the GND, it is clearly not a serious proposal, just like Lee intended to demonstrate.
    The GND proponents say that within 12 years we will have Environmental Armageddon if massive changes are not made. No votes for the GND shows that this basic premise of the proponents is not really believed by any Senator.

  24. John Mansfield says:

    Tyler Cowen’s column on climate change and children didn’t mention Mormons, and seemed mostly geared to encouraging people not to be afraid to not have at least one child instead of none. Cowen himself appears to have one child, a stepdaughter. I suspect, though, that Mormons were somewhere in his thoughts as he was putting togther his “more children=more productivity=solutions to problems” essay.

  25. Lee made clear that the Republican Party in general neither has ideas nor believes in a market place of ideas when in comes to climate change. That’s the irony of his argument.

    Also, he was clearly aware that he was being childish and it troubled him to his core to be so base. But still he did it. This was obvious to people who know him, like Michelle Quist. And also to most neutral observers. The process may not have ‘swung people’ on the issue. But it swung people on Lee. And for those not of the Republican base, they’re tired of it and he swung them away from him.

  26. el oso,
    There is no policy, no law in the Green New Deal. There is nothing there to vote on. This was a show vote and that’s why the Dems voted present. They are taking this much more seriously than the GOP.

  27. Rockwell says:

    “Is there anything to his presentation besides a few cheap shots across the aisle and virtue signalling to a home crowd?”

    In a word, NO.

    If Lee thinks that there currently isn’t enough ingenuity among the 7.5 billion people alive today to solve climate change, there’s really no reason to think that a small percent increase in America’s population 20-30 years from now is going to help. He’s obviously not thinking seriously about the issue. The solution is not to create more ingenuity later, but to make opportunities for ingenious people create and implement solutions now.

  28. Jonathan Cavender says:

    I think many miss the obvious historical portion of this — AOC and her ideological allies are the Malthusians of the modern era. Sure, their ideological compatriots have been continually proven wrong for the past 220 years or so, but critical self-examination in not their strong suit. Recognizing this, Senator Lee hit them right at their central irrational conceit. This group of people who cannot claim to do anything for any reason beyond “for the children” simultaneously take positions that children are burdens or counterproductive, etc.

    His primary failure, in my mind, was not making it explicit enough — this subtle reference is lost on an unsubtle society. But it was still quite funny, and he is on the right side of this argument. Those of us above a certain age remember when climate change used to be concerns about global warming. Those of us a little bit older remember when global warming used to be concerns about global winter and the nuclear ice age (millennials, ask your parents about that). There have always been doomsday prognosticators using unjustified panic to sell their particular brand of snake oil, and a common theme has always been to have less children. Senator Lee hits back at that pretty squarely.

    Thomas Malthus’s claim that the apocalypse would occur because population grows exponentially while resources increase linearly has always been proven wrong by failing to account for human ingenuity. Or, in other words, Malthusians are always wrong because of their failure to account for the very thing Senator Lee describes — and, to my (and no doubt his) great amusement many of those continuing to hold to this ridiculous philosophy not only continue to miss the reality of why their theories are proven wrong again and again they but they also continue to miss the joke.

  29. Husband of One Wife says:

    Lee is right that population pressure and resource scarcity will lead to innovations that will allow the human species to survive its new world. It just won’t necessarily be a world that those of us alive today would really want to live in given a choice. But if the ultimate good is to produce as many humans as quickly as possible before a catastrophe wipes them all out, it’s a perfectly reasonable approach. For me, the balance of value between further increases in material prosperity, longevity, etc in the United States vs environmental quality/green space/crowding/etc has probably already turned negative. That isn’t the case for most people in this world, either due to greater value placed on material prosperity or a simple lack of the material prosperity I enjoy, so we’ll continue on our current course for the foreseeable future.

  30. Husband of One Wife says:

    Jonathan Cavender, you miss the mark because the apocalypse has happened and is happening. The ingenuity you talk about is not costless and does not bring us back to zero on all previous values. Our world is much less abundant in most resources than it was in Malthus’s day, particularly biodiversity, and the extraction and production of those resources has become increasingly more dangerous and damaging over time. Yes, we’ll likely always come up with new solutions for keeping another generation alive, but those generations may not be able to enjoy wild spaces, may never see a Monarch butterfly, and will have fracking rigs in their backyards. I would love for you to be right, but you already aren’t. We’re defecating where we live now, not in some apocalyptic future. But if the goal is just to remain alive even if only in a Wall-E style stupor of obese lethargy as we binge watch Netflix reruns, then yeah, you’re right on the money.

  31. Check out Stephen Colbert’s take on him.

  32. I woke up this morning and realized that Mike Lee is a mad genius. If, like Trump, he believes all press is good press (and there’s reason to suggest this is the case), then Lee gets what he wants, because we are talking about him. And, because of the context, we are also talking about Climate Change. So, in reality, Lee supports and encourages discussion about climate change and how to address it. He has figured out how to even get deniers like Jonathan Cavender to talk about it. Don’t you see it? We’re all talking about it because of Lee. It would have been shortly forgotten without him, but now we’re still talking about it! It’s in our consciousness even more because of him. Mad genius.

  33. Jonathan Cavender says:

    @Husband:

    “but those generations may not be able to enjoy wild spaces”

    Drive from Utah to Colorado, or through West Virginia, sometime. There is a lot of open space in this world — something you lose sight of if you are committed to an urban lifestyle. Only if you never get out of a city could you believe that there are no wild spaces.

    “We’re defecating where we live now, not in some apocalyptic future.”

    You realize that Thomas Crapper was born 30 years after Thomas Malthus made his prediction. During the time of the Malthusian ascendancy people were literally defecating where they lived and dumping it into the street gutters. It takes a carefully-cultivated obliviousness to not recognize that human ingenuity has made life better since the turn of the 19th century.

    “But if the goal is just to remain alive even if only in a Wall-E style stupor of obese lethargy as we binge watch Netflix reruns, then yeah, you’re right on the money.”

    You’ve hit on something we agree on — this should not be the goal of society. But we do disagree on cause and cure.

    @Brian:

    “He has figured out how to even get deniers like Jonathan Cavender to talk about it.”

    I get that you are being sarcastic, but this is silly in a way you don’t intend. What makes me a denier, and what am I denying? I am all for being a good steward of the environment — like most people raised on hunting and fishing (people actually in these wild spaces most environmentalists say they care about but have never actually been to) I recognize the issues with carelessness and pollution. But to say that things now are worse than they were (or are trending downward) is ignorant of reality.

    There is an undercurrent of misanthropy in the modern environmentalist movement (as with all Mathusian movements) which Senator Lee is mocking. The life expectancy when Malthus was born was 38 years old. Now a portion of that is increased infant mortality, but even by 1850 the average life expectancy for someone who did not die in infancy was 44 years old. So the average human is living nearly twice as long a lifespan in the space of 150 years. And yet the complaint is made “[o]ur world is much less abundant in most resources than it was in Malthus’s day, particularly biodiversity, and the extraction and production of those resources has become increasingly more dangerous and damaging over time.” Ok, assuming that to be true, we have also doubled human lifespan and increased the potential quality of life substantially and lifted vast swaths of the First and Third worlds out of hand-to-mouth poverty — why do you naturally assume that is not a worthwhile exchange? Does your entrenched opinion require you to steadfastly avoid any examinations of the benefits? My goodness, a little perspective and you might not be willing to trade your freedom and prosperity for AOC’s 100% snake oil lineament. By all means, let’s avoid the pride cycle that comes with prosperity but find room in your heart for a little gratitude rather than decry that all is terrible in the world (despite the abundant evidence to the contrary).

  34. Jonathan Cavender says:

    This modern green movement is just like the backwoods simpleton that goes to the faith healer to give their life savings to avoid the claimed apocalypse. If only they pray enough (and put enough into the collection plate), they might be saved. And when the apocalypse doesn’t happen on the date promised by the preacher, well they buy the claim that only their prayers held it off and it was all the more reason to add more to the plate the next time it comes around.

    Ok, so maybe those following the Green New Deal aren’t aware of their movement’s long (and embarrassing) history. But in my lifetime Al Gore came out with a doomsday movie that promised the end of the world in 10 years. Time ran a cover two decades before that promising the end of the world. Now AOC gives 12 years until time runs out. And each time these preachers pass the collection plate around and the yokels throw their money and freedom at them to try and be among those that are ‘saved’ from this environmental Armageddon.

    It’s hard to understand those who followed the fake prophets who promised the end of the world, but it is even harder to understand those who continued to follow them even after their predictions about the end were wrong. Yet, just like them, there are those who continue to follow these doomsday prophets after centuries of them being wrong time and time again.

  35. Jonathan, Your blanket statements about environmentalists are absurd and disqualify your arguments on many levels. I’m from WV. I get that you have disdain for ‘simpletons’ like the vast majority of scientists who actually study what is going, but hey, like Lee, your arguments are more joke than anything else because a cogent argument against climate change and its significant negative effects on humans aren’t possible. Lee, by the way, didn’t deny the dangers in his speech. Also, long comments don’t make yourself more convincing. Again, we get that you are right and everyone else is just ignorant, prideful, misled, snake oil fakers. Thanks so much!

  36. cassandracyphers says:

    This is the opposite of the solution. Many climate experts argue that having fewer children would have the most beneficial impact on climate change. I have to agree, when you consider all the environmental impacts of each new person throughout his/her lifespan AND as he/she goes on to produce more people, also with environmental impacts.

  37. your food allergy is fake says:

    Jonathan, not everyone who thinks the environment is important is a Malthusian, just as you take issue with being caricatured as a “denier.” It’s possible to like humanity and the environment. In fact, it’s impossible to avoid, since the former is dependent on the latter. There are very serious problems facing our environment’s ability to continue to support the long and comfortable lifespans you rightly applaud. It is not all snake oil. Most prominent on my mind at the moment are the globally declining insect populations, and not just pollinators. If that continues we will have big problems eating, let alone maintaining any kind of biodiversity on this planet.

  38. Jonathan Cavender says:

    @your food allergy is fake:

    You might be surprised but I agree with everything you wrote. We agree that there are problems requiring solutions and you highlight a good one — I am a proponent of keeping bees because of just that reason. I am all for stewardship of the environment — believing it to be not just prudent but divinely mandated. It is the Green New Deal proponents, and those blindly giving away money and freedom to these prophets of doom, that I criticize as misanthropic Malthusians.

  39. Troy Cline says:

    Mike Lee’s charade up there on the Senate floor was funny but he made a complete ass of himself. He mocks the notion of climate change for 10 full minutes and then expects the American public to take his “solution” (to this problem that he just dismissed) seriously. Sit down Mike Lee, you pandering fool. Utah, you voted for this buffoon. Time to reconsider.

  40. Troy,
    Mike Lee mocked the Green New Deal, not climate change. If you think that the GND is close to the only sane response, then you are the fool and buffoon.

  41. Mike Lee is an embarrassment to his state and to his church. If the solution is human ingenuity, then why wait for the next generation, as he implies? Why kick the can down the road, as the Republicans have done on so many crucial issues? Why not listen to today’s climate scientists and engineers and take drastic steps to address this problem before it’s too late? I’ll tell you why. Because Big Oil and the Koch brothers own the Republican Party. Their bottom line is more pressing than our children’s future.

  42. How about redistribution of employable youths from areas with young populations and too few resources, such as Niger and Mali, to areas with aging populations and many resources, such as Russia? But alas, xenophobia is as great of a threat to humanity as global warming.

  43. Troy Cline says:

    Actually Ono, while most of Lee’s speech was more directly related to the GND, that bit about Sharknado was a hit on climate change as a serious idea, not the Green New Deal specifically.

  44. Troy Cline says:

    Ono, while most of Lee’s speech was aimed at the GND directly, the bit about Sharknado was a general shot at the idea that climate change is serious.

  45. Jonathan, would you say that the planet is better off now than it was when Gore inaccurately predicted the end of the world?

  46. pdmallamoyahoocom says:

    “[Julian] Simon [in THE ULTIMATE RESOURCE 1981] challenged the notion of
    impending Malthusian catastrophe—that an increase in population has negative economic consequences; that population is a drain on natural resources; and that we stand at risk of running out of resources through over-consumption. Simon argues that population is the solution to resource scarcities and environmental problems, since people and markets innovate. His ideas were praised by Nobel Laureate economists Friedrich Hayek[3] and Milton Friedman, the latter in a 1998 foreword to The Ultimate Resource II, but they have also attracted critics such as Paul R. Ehrlich, Albert Allen Bartlett and Herman Daly.” WIKI

  47. I want to weigh in on the side of those viewing Mike Lee as a buffoon and Trump sycophant like nearly all Republicans in Congress. I’d like to think most of them are *simply* spineless cowards more interested in reelection that doing what is best for the country, but some are likely sincerely dedicated to much of Trump’s anti-everything that is, “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.” They are willfully ignorant of and opposed to universally-supported science, universally-supported civil rights (race, gender, LBTQ, etc), and universally-supported principles of democracy.

    When Oso writes that, ” just like Lee intended to demonstrate,” he gives way too much credit to Lee. Lee has repeatedly said some very stupid and ill-informed things. While he *may* have made that silly presentation on the floor of the Senate with some sarcastic intent, it was weak and in keeping with his usual half-cocked ring-kissing (and there is a more powerful, but too profane version of that) to Trump’s base-baiting behavior.

    IMHO

  48. fbisti,
    I know that “Lee intended to demonstrate” the absurdity of the GND by using absurdity because he said so at the beginning of his speech. He certainly was making sure that those who are somewhat slow or hyper partisan could still get what he was trying to do.
    It should have been obvious when he started his visual aid presentation with Reagan on a Raptor. In case you did not know, Mike Lee’s father was high up in the Reagan administration, so Mike has met with President Reagan personally and knows that Reagan would find that presentation highly amusing. He then transitions to a scene from Star Wars, not only a well known series of movies and other entertainment, but also the nickname given to Reagan’s cold war era program for protecting the USA from Soviet ICBMs.
    While critics may just see Lee as a Trump ring-kisser or sycophant, this presentation was a reminder of a nearly universally acclaimed Republican president and his role in some of the USA’s greatest triumphs.

  49. pdmallamoyahoocom says:

    That Simon’s views align w/ conservative Christianity, in particular Mormonism, does not obviate the point. Lee was sincere, and I think you guys are looking way beyond the mark here.

  50. Eric Fossum says:

    Well, it had to happen. Trump-haters and climate-change acolytes have landed at the BCC! It’s a shame that climate change has devolved from debate and reasoned discourse to generalized condemnation of anyone who disputes the “facts” or presents alternative views. Similarly, Trump-haters reject him b/c, #1 he is unattractive, not charming, and #2 he’s just plain despicable (morally bankrupt). No one wants to talk about the Kennedys or the Clintons who, in simple measure of moral turpitude make Trump look like a piker. But, they were/are charming and attractive and supported generally by “journalists”. Please folks, extract your heads and take a look around. A good place to start might be YouTube and Steve Goreham for climate issues. Regarding Trump, however, I’m sure there is nothing anyone can say to dissuade a dedicated Trump hater. sigh

  51. Jonathan Cavender says:

    @peterllc:

    Yes, I do. There is inherent ambiguity in the phrase “better off” (especially in relation to the planet) and some pretty significant complexities but if we accept the planet has a purpose (assist God in His work) and if we accept that people unable to feed themselves have little time to contemplate God and His works (which President Hinkley has said, among others) then the fact that there has been a 74.1% decrease in the world poverty rate (even if at the cost of some other harms to the environment) means the planet is better off. There are undoubtedly some costs associated with that — and the developing world pollutes far more than the developed world — but these are costs that are worth paying in my opinion.

    You (not meaning literally you — I don’t know your position from your question and use ‘you’ generally) cannot calculate the relative value of planetary resources absent a purpose. If there is a pristine world floating the astronomical ether around Rigel then even absent human intervention in no meaningful way is that planet better off — it has no purpose. So you cannot excise out human considerations in determining the value of a planet. The resources of the planet exist to work towards an end and oil sitting in the ground or a duck floating on the water isn’t an inherent moral good. Thus, while we are not to be wasteful or destructive stewards, neither are we to think our purpose is to maintain the Earth as a museum — it has a purpose and should be used for that end.

    That’s where the GND is foolish. If you want to have a conversation about trade-offs and cost/benefit analysis I am all ears. Dumping toxins in the water? We are on the same page — it shouldn’t happen. Burning fossil fuels? We may disagree if I see the quality of life improvement to exceed the damage to the environment (as is almost always the case — the world is a big place and remarkably stubborn to human intervention [we just aren’t as powerful as we think we are]). Want to protect birds? More power to you — let’s talk about what we can do and at what cost. Want to ban DDT (which ban resulted in literally millions of deaths — around ten times the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust)? Then we have a problem. And if you want to say everything is going to hell (just like Mathus and Ehrlich and Gore and AOC), then you are just drinking the Kool-Aid and you ought to be responded to with appropriate derision for buying into the charlatans.

  52. Eric nailed us all! We’re all so deluded! He understands us all! He, like Jonathan has the facts and everyone else can’t see it. We can’t criticize the Clintons. We have no morals. Thank you Eric! He’s correct at least in saying this discussion has devolved. Look how much he has added to it!

  53. Husband of One Wife says:

    @Jonathan Cavender I work as an outdoor recreation guide, and I live in what was a rural community 10 years ago. The fields and orchards are now paved, and the forests and mountains where I work are under unsustainable human pressure. The glaciers we rely on for water sources in the high mountains are disappearing as we watch. Even the (seemingly) barren wilds of Wyoming are difficult to spend much time in without seeing the destruction that is being wrought by extractive industries. Finding unbroken stretches of wilderness becomes more difficult every year, and if you want to go somewhere without seeing other people, you have to head farther north every year. This is an absolutely enormous continent we’re on here in North America, yet we’re filling it up and paving it at an absolutely astonishing rate, and we have no plan for keeping this a nice place to live.

    “we just aren’t as powerful as we think we are”

    You seriously need to spend more time looking at time lapse satellite images. You’re right in the sense that we aren’t nearly as powerful as we think we are to affect the specific outcomes we want, but when it comes to using up and fouling up the resources God has given us, with our numbers and over time, our power is limitless. There are warning lights flashing red across every ecosystem on the planet, and we’re experiencing a mass extinction event that we are obviously causing. How can that possibly not worry you? How can that not make you entertain the possibility that we’re experiencing a prosperity bubble? Wouldn’t it be wise to try to ensure continued prosperity in the future? It isn’t like the progression of human well-being over history has followed a constant upward path regardless of human choices, and we have no prior long-term data about how the natural systems we’re relying on stand up to the strains we’re placing on them.

  54. Eric, you need to read more carefully or more consistently. The godless Trump-haters have dominated BCC for a long time. Thank you for standing against their blind animosity for all that is truth and righteousness!

  55. Billy Possum says:

    //SARCASM// I love that we’re at 54 comments and counting over Lee’s fairly obvious insincerity, and nary a post about sincere, Mormon-theological engagement with the GND or climate change. //SARCASM//

    Seriously, thank you, Peterllc, for the post. But the Problem itself, and Mormonism’s contributions and answers to it, is far more interesting than last week’s political theatre. I’ve noted that BCC appears surprisingly light on environmental themes and discussion. When is that post coming?

  56. Jonathan Cavender says:

    @Husband of One Wife:

    “You seriously need to spend more time looking at time lapse satellite images.”

    It’s tempting to just compare satellite images of the United States over time and the satellite images of North Korea over time and ask which is better. So I think I will.

    “There are warning lights flashing red across every ecosystem on the planet, and we’re experiencing a mass extinction event that we are obviously causing.”

    I am reminded of the line from “Men in Black” that there is always some alien spaceship or world-ending catastrophe or something happening. But that’s the thing. Maybe the first claim of a ‘mass-extinction event that we are obviously causing’ might be persuasive, but this is at least the fourth such claim in my lifetime (and I am not terribly old). And the solution is always the same — give money and power to the doomsday prognosticators. At some point you need to step back and recognize that you are being manipulated.

    “It isn’t like the progression of human well-being over history has followed a constant upward path regardless of human choices, and we have no prior long-term data about how the natural systems we’re relying on stand up to the strains we’re placing on them.”

    While I agree with the claim that humanity isn’t a constant upward climb it likewise baffles me that there are those who see the apocalypse around every corner. I guess this is what happens when you don’t teach history anymore. Remember cholera? Typhus and Tuberculosis? If a person walked outside in 1798 Britain (right after reading Thomas Mathus) and somehow was transported into modern-day London, he would likely think he had gone to Heaven simply because of the cleanliness of the city around him. I dare say, in 220 years from now, we will likewise see a similar improvement in our living conditions. That’s how the situation doesn’t worry me. By all means, be good stewards.

    @Billy Possum:

    “I love that we’re at 54 comments and counting over Lee’s fairly obvious insincerity, and nary a post about sincere, Mormon-theological engagement with the GND or climate change.”

    I don’t know that you can honestly say that, between my posts about environmental stewardship being a divine mandate and the telos of the Earth, I think that constitutes sincere, Mormon-theological engagement.

  57. Eric Fossum, “Trump-haters…have landed at BCC.” Wow. This just shows you how far right conservatives have become. Trump is now normal and it is wrong to hate on a pathological liar who is dead-set on rolling back regulations that protect the environment all in the name of enriching the rich. It just shows you how much Trump has conned a large swath of the US. Mormons, who were screaming at the top of their lungs about how immoral Bill Clinton was over his affairs, have now fully embraced a guy who probably violated campaign finance laws to pay off people he had affairs with and who bragged about being able to get away sexual assault. And Trump is your man now, huh?

    “A good place to start might be YouTube and Steve Goreham for climate issues”

    Yeah, let’s trust random youtube videos and people who have no real background studying climate science (Goreham is trained to be an electrical engineer and has no in-depth experience actually studying climate science) over scientific consensuses and include the leading climate scientists. Goreham is no-brain hack who doesn’t know his rear end from his face.

    It is a crying shame that people like you infest an otherwise reasoned and intelligent blog. No, don’t cry “civility” like a little snowflake who needs a safe space. We simply can’t have reasoned discussions with conspiracy theorists and denialists. We can mostly just ignore them, and when we reach the point where we can no longer ignore them, we must hit them with a barrage of facts, and when that doesn’t work, we ridicule and shame. So shame on you, Eric Fossum. And GTFO of this blog, you blind, ignorant, Trump-believing, dishonest, delusional hack!

  58. Everyone thinking differently than Jonathan ie being manipulated. That’s his nice way of putting it. Or we’re being deceived by charlatans. Anything else to add Jonathan? Any other insults you’d like to fling at people? I guess none of us know history as well as you do. Or the present. Or the future. Or anything, really.

    Conspiracy theory much? I mean, that’s rhetorical. It’s fairly obvious. But of course couch it in a common ground for good stewardship. That will weaken the appearance of your insults. Well done.

  59. Montserrat Wadsworth says:

    Skipping over all the political comments and getting back to the question at the end of the post, “So what’s your take on Lee’s eminently Mormon solution to climate change? . . . Could more babies really be the solution to climate change?”

    I don’t think it’s an eminently Mormon solution at all. I think it’s one other religions also view and have viewed for a very long time. One hundred years ago F.W. Boreham (a Baptist preacher) made this observation, “A century ago [in 1809] men were following, with bated breath, the march of Napoleon, and waiting with feverish impatience for the latest news of the wars. And all the while, in their own homes, babies were being born. But who could think about babies? Everybody was thinking about battles. . . .

    “In one year between Trafalgar and Waterloo, there stole into the world a host of heroes! Gladstone was born at Liverpool; Alfred Tennyson was born at the Somersby rectory . . . Oliver Wendell Holmes made his first appearance at Massachusetts . . . and Abraham Lincoln drew his first breath at Old Kentucky. Music was enriched by the advent of Frederic Chopin at Warsaw, and of Felix Mendelssohn at Hamburg.

    “But nobody thought of babies. Everybody was thinking of battles. Yet which of the battles of 1809 mattered more than the babies of 1809? We fancy that God can only manage His world by big battalions when all the while He is doing it by beautiful babies. When a wrong wants righting, or a work wants doing, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants opening, God sends a baby into the world to do it.” (F. W. Boreham, Mountains in the Mist: Some Australian Reveries [1919], 166-67, 170)

    There more than likely are already people alive who, when given the chance through education and opportunity, would find a wonderful solution to climate change or a whole host of other issues. I think there are more people yet to be born who will also bring new ideas and find answers we are seeking.

    So, yes, I do believe more babies can contribute to the solution. This coming from a mother of eleven beautiful children. The world needs kids like mine! ;)

  60. 1809 and no mention of Darwin being born then? It does no good to say that babies will solve all problems if you then ignore the scientists…

  61. Regarding the Overton window, I think GND and AOC have succeeded in moving it and I think Lee helped, in the end. The point of GND, as I see it, is/was to engage in discussion now. The point of much Republican maneuvering is to put off discussion until the next generation, or anything other than now. I think Lee’s performance was meant to say GND is not serious and let us talk about other things. But the effect was to draw more attention to the climate change discussion.

    Regarding religion’s role in the discussion, is it (I propose that it is) non-controversial that Mormonism (broadly or narrowly drawn) is predominantly part of the millennialist god-will-work-it-out and this-is-all-part-of-the-last-days branch of Christendom. With minority threads of making Zion in the now, in this world, in this time. It is one of the places where I feel not at home in the culture, and I use that discomfort to gauge my assessment.

  62. Montserrat Wadsworth says:

    @ Tim. The part quoted from Boreham’s book was heavily edited, taken from Spencer W. Kimball’s book ‘Faith Precedes the Miracle’ (where it was misattributed to F. M. Bareham). Here is the text from Boreham’s book which mentions Darwin, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and others.

    “Why in one year lying midway between Trafalgar and Waterloo, there stole into the world a host of heroes! During that one year, 1809, Mr. Gladstone was born at Liverpool; Alfred Tennyson was born at the Somersby rectory; and Oliver Wendell Holmes made his first appearance at Massachusetts. On the very self-same day of that self-same year Charles Darwin made his debut at Shrewsbury, and Abraham Lincoln drew his first breath at Old Kentucky. Music was enriched by the advent of Frederic Chopin at Warsaw, and of Felix Mendels-sohn at Hamburg. Within the same year, too, Samuel Morley was born at Homerton, Edward Fitzgerald at Woodbridge, Elizabeth Barrett Browning at Durham, and Frances Kemble in London. But nobody thought of babies. Everybody was thinking of battles. Yet, viewing that age in the truer perspective which the distance of a hundred years enables us to command, we may well ask ourselves which of the battles of 1809 mattered more than the babies of 1809?”

  63. lclemesany says:

    I’m just embarrassed.

  64. Thanks for your faith Montserrat Wadsworth.

    There are no immediate solutions to climate issues. None. It’s just not at all a practical solution that anything we can feasibly do will have a discernable impact in growing glaciers or stopping them from melting in the next couple hundred years.

    The best hope we really have is mitigation. Every solution we’ve pursued has serious issues (including fossil fuels), if we attempt to scale it anywhere near the level that we rely on fossil fuels. What’s more rare and destructive to obtain than oil and gas? The rare earth metals used in solar and batteries…

    But to the point. Babies. Because more babies will bless the lives of society as they grow into people who solve problems through solutions that make our lives better at adapting to the climate.

    We can be certain that if someone proposed more babies as a long term solution to unknown sickness and death in the 1700s, many might mock as well. What if in the 1800s Jean and Joseph Pasteur decided to stop having kids after 1 or 2?

    We’d never get Louis.

    That’s actually a testable hypothesis – how many people from 1700-1900 years blessed more than 1 million people through their lives. How many now never exist at modern fertility rates. We should be able to quantify how many geniuses we’ve lost.

    To the extent we can influence climate over long or short term, we need more smart people. Not less.

    A cynic might say that’s also how we get Hitler. Of course, he was in some respect, the “first child” (that lived passed the age of 2), but the point remains the 3rd child could also be a blight. The conclusion to that is pessimistic to begin with, as if you believe it’s more likely children will grow to curse rather than bless humanity, then I’m not sure why saving the future climate would be of such urgent need.

    So yes, despite all the political motivated scorn, more children seems to be a better long term policy for many aspects of our society than more taxes on cow emissions, air travel, and electricity.

  65. GEOFF -AUS says:

    Not being an American I had to look up the Green New Deal. It was adressing climate change but also the redistribution of wealth, which has reached the point in America where it is immoral. Where wealth is redistributed from the poor to the rich. More of the wealth of the nation is going to the very wealthy and more people are living in poverty.
    I am very saddened that members claiming to be christian, can care so little for their fellow man, present or future. No poor among them should be a worthy goal, or is there some logic that absolves you of that too?
    The lack of responsibility on climate change is also discouraging.
    In Australia we are about to have an election. The present ruling conservative party, has no policy on climate change, or how to help those in need, or to create a more equitable society, starting with a living wage. Like Republicans, just tax cuts for the rich, and service cuts for the poor. The opposition party is campaigning on these issues, and at present is about 10 points ahead in the polls. Hopefully this will continue, and America can see the light at the next election with or without the help of mormons. I thought the GND was a good place to start a discussion on what a more compassionate and caring society might look like.

  66. GEOFF-AUS,
    The GND is a fine place to start a discussion on the environment or on social justice. If you would like to contribute like the Americans will be asked to do, please send a check for $600,000 (USD) to the US treasury. Your generosity is appreciated.

    Before you get all worked up about the mean and miserly, uncaring Senator Lee, you should realize that $600K is the estimated additional tax and regulatory burden which the average American would face over the next 10 years if the GND were enacted. This is higher than the average income over that time!!! Senator Lee was showing great compassion to lower income and middle class Americans who would have been severely impoverished by the GND.

  67. Jared Livesey says:

    The real solution to global warming, social justice, racism, bigotry, partisianship, division, economics, and war is the law and commandments Jesus Christ established by his own mouth in both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon.

    As disciples of Jesus Christ, we can do much good in the world by both practicing and teaching those things.

  68. treymoney says:

    Reading the replies to this has been a bummer in a bunch of different ways, not least of which is when several of you asserted that’s Lee’s Michelle Tanner-level mugging for the camera and Kinko’s printed memes were “funny”

  69. GEOFF -AUS says:

    Jared, agree except that it appears that a large proportion of members, (if above is an indication) will refuse to be part of the solution.
    El, Most of the climate scientists say climate change is real. Just for a moment lets suppose they are right. This is obviously a world problem, and America had agreed to help with the solution, because although you have 5% of the population you produce 15% of the pollution. So what is the cost of doing nothing?
    Trump pulled out of helping the world solve a real problem.
    So to have a mormon senator, and his supporters, ridicule a tentative proposal is pathetic.
    Now to the figure you quote. Obviously a fear figure by a group who are trying to support doing nothing. Obviously because that figure is also the total GDP of the US, for 10 years. They have been totally rediculous. Were they trying to make it work like the rest of the world is it can be done.
    The fact that you also support increasing inequality in a wealthy country with the greatest inequality of a first world country, resulting in increasing numbers of people (30 million +) to live in poverty, so the wealthy can become more and unnecessarily wealthy, is not an indication of any search for zion, or anything Christlike. Disapointing to see people who claim to be Christian behaving like this. Changing the name of the church to include Christ is meaningless if the members continue to be Republicans first and Christians a poor last.

  70. I read in the comments section the question, “What if in the 1800s Jean and Joseph Pasteur decided to stop having kids after 1 or 2?” This was showing that having more children means more human ingenuity and more solutions to problems. Okay. . . If we are going to go along with hypothetical situations for history, how about this one: What if the entire population in those early years were given opportunities and not just white males? What if women and people of color were given equal, quality education and encouraged to study and invent? How would that have changed history? Would scientific, social, or economic milestones been achieved faster?

    On that same vein, I feel like Senator Lee was implying ingenuity would only come from rich, American babies and so we need to just have a bunch more of them. What if instead we focused on educating and giving opportunities to more babies that are currently IN the world? What about refugees? Impoverished countries? Or the children living in urban, under-performing schools in our own country?

    I really love the focus the church has been putting on helping refugees and people in need. Maybe that is the answer to getting some more human ingenuity? Instead of mass-producing babies in America, we can make sure babies everywhere have enough food, clean water, safety, and access to education. I am a teacher, so I tend to think of education as the answer to most questions. I am probably biased. But if the issue is gaining more human ingenuity, then in this case education HAS to be the answer.

  71. Thank you EmilyB!

  72. Sounds good EmilyB.
    I’m happy when women succeed. Both as mothers whose children changed the world and through their other non-biological contributions. If you notice, I referenced Jean and Joseph Pasteur, the mother and father. She endured pregnancies, 2 deliveries and raised the children for 1-2 years each before they died. Then went on to have a 3rd, who subsequently changed the world. We might wonder if she had much choice in it, but I don’t accept that. There were many alternate choices she had available to her. And we’re all blessed as a result.

    I definitely think we need to wisely invest in the developing world. I’m actively doing that and in touch multiple times a week with a couple individuals on that front. I hope many who feel the developing world is worth our resources, consider sustainable ways they can have an impact and not just wish others will do it, or that government can fund a program to solve it. In fact sometimes it’s simply for governments to get out of the way. Something overlooked by many, but crucial to the developing world is the GSP tarrif program that results in greater investment in the developing world. But tarrifs are typically often a mess that hurt people unseen on both sides of the transaction with little thought to how families often suffer as a result. But it doles out favors, gives the opportunity for our leaders to compel as well as politically demagogue. And it’s certainly not all Trump’s fault. He’s just using the tools others have been quietly abusing behind the scenes more publicly.

    But keep in mind, ironically, where we see so much growth in the developing world, it’s far more traditional role oriented then the “West”. But still, helping women there comes at a far lower cost than helping women in the West. Truly if you want to think globally with the money you have for charity investment, the fastest way to spend money with an uncertain impact on the quality of life change is buying college books in a western University… These things aren’t easy. I’m not sure there’s a right answer, but focusing on dogma isn’t.

    And family isn’t dogma. It’s the foundation for human life. When we put our political carts before that horse, society is worse off.

    There’s no doubt that most of the growth opportunity for women or men is connected to consumerism. The growth that comes with consumerism is the capital that can sustain energy and conservation and medical advances. Just don’t look at the net carbon footprint — instead relish the lives blessed by human ingenuity.

  73. EmilyB, thank you. There have been several laments in this thread about all of the geniuses being who might not have been born, but very little about all of the geniuses who die young or who are never educated at all. I don’t have anything against having babies, but I despise the idea that Lee promoted that ours are worth more than someone else’s.