Gary Johnson’s stance on climate change is medieval

by Kaylee Anderson

Last month when riffing on the topic of climate change, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson said that “in billions of years, the sun is actually going to grow and encompass the earth, right? So climate change is in our future.” His very basic argument is that spending money on efforts to reduce climate change is futile, and we should instead be investing in coal-fired plants. I mean, if the sun is going to swallow the earth anyway, why does it matter if we allow the temperature of our planet to climb?

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, if global emissions continue on their current trajectory, the temperature of the earth is predicted to rise eight degrees by the end of the century. The effect of that temperature increase will cause the sea level to rise from one to four feet, threatening New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and a host of other low-lying areas. This isn’t in billions of years — it’s by 2100.

Johnson’s approach to climate change is medieval. We still have billions of years left before the earth could be rendered uninhabitable by the expanding sun, and avoiding climate change — let alone contributing to it through the use of coal-fired plants — is going to make earth a lot less pleasant as a result. If Johnson is attempting to make himself an attractive candidate to younger voters, he is going to have to consider that most 20-somethings are hyperaware of climate change and its effects. Many who have the possibility of living until 2100 do not relish the idea of inhabiting an environment destroyed by greenhouse gases.

If Johnson wants to be seen as a viable alternative to Clinton, he needs to take a more realistic approach to climate change. Yes, the sun may eventually swallow the earth, but that doesn’t mean it’s disposable.