Normally, appointments for a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives on the management of natural resources rarely make international headlines.
That Tuesday was different - because of Louie Gohmer.
The MP from Texas used the meeting to raise a rather unusual question.
To a rather unusual addressee.
In a dialogue with Jennifer Eberlien, an executive at the US Forest Service, Gohmer asked the following question about climate change: »The last NASA boss told me that the orbits of the moon around the earth and the earth around the sun are changing slightly and that it is currently massive solar flares exist.
What could the Ministry of Forestry do to change the orbit of the moon or the earth around the sun?
That would obviously have massive effects on climate change. "
At Eberlien, whose authority is naturally more concerned with trees than space, this question caused an amused chuckle and the answer: "I have to be smart first, Mr. Gohmer."
Here is the video of the complete hearing, the dialogue starts at around 1:18:30 pm:
The dialogue has generated some reactions on the internet and in social networks.
Many users are amused by the seemingly bizarre question that Gohmer seems to be asking in all seriousness.
As analyzed by the Washington Post, among others, these comments could bypass Gohmer's intention.
Rather, he might want to suggest that global warming is triggered by cosmic events - and is not due to human behavior.
This theory circulates again and again, most recently Nasa itself argued against it on its website.
For climate deniers, the idea comes in handy
Of course, such a theory would be a useful excuse for politicians in states like Texas who depend on fossil fuel mining.
To put it bluntly: if everything depends on the orbit anyway, the car can also use 25 liters.
The earth's orbit around the sun actually changes regularly.
The small effect has triggered extreme global warming in the past, as studies show.
However, man-made CO2 emissions could ensure that a critical threshold is exceeded.
In addition, according to NASA, the effects of changed orbits can only be felt over extremely long periods of time.
The theory is therefore hardly suitable for explaining the rapid global warming over decades or a few centuries.