A Republican lawmaker from Texas is curious to know whether we could alter our planet's orbit to address climate change. Rep. Louie Gohmert was attending a House Natural Resources Committee hearing Tuesday when he noted that a past NASA director had told him the orbits of the Earth and moon change slightly, per the Hill. He then asked Jennifer Eberlien, associate deputy chief of the National Forest Service, "Is there anything that the National Forest Service or [Bureau of Land Management] can do to change the course of the moon's orbit or the Earth's orbit around the sun? Obviously, that would have profound effects on our climate." Eberlien paused before replying, "I would have to follow up with you on that one, Mr. Gohmert." "Well, if you figure out a way that you in the Forest Service can make that change, I'd like to know," Gohmert responded.
The Hill notes it’s unclear if Gohmert was kidding. But he was "deadpan through the exchange," per the Dallas Morning News. Earth's orbit does in fact vary in shape from almost a perfect circle to slightly elliptical in 100,000-year cycles. This, together with slight changes in the angle at which Earth tilts on its axis, influences Earth's climate over the long-term. But neither the Earth's nor the moon's orbit is tied to global warming. Indeed, "Earth's current orbital positions … predict our planet should be cooling, not warming," according to NASA. Moriba Jah, an astrodynamics expert at the University of Texas at Austin, says Gohmert's suggestion is "as feasible as making the sun rise in the west," per the Morning News. (Read more Louie Gohmert stories.)