Republican senator cites Star Wars and ‘Sharknado’ during bizarre speech on Green New Deal

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said Utahns felt the effects of climate change when they were struck "by a tornado with sharks in it."

Screenshots of Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) on Senate floor mocking the Green New Deal and climate action, March 26. CREDIT: CSPAN2 and Whalid Shahid.
Screenshots of Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) on Senate floor mocking the Green New Deal and climate action, March 26. CREDIT: CSPAN2 and Whalid Shahid.

In a bizarre speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) mocked the notion of climate change and climate action with references to dinosaurs, Star Wars, Dr. Evil, Aquaman, giant sea horses, and even the movie Sharknado.

Lee was speaking in the lead up to a Senate vote Tuesday on the Green New Deal resolution, which calls for a very rapid transition to clean energy to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Democrats have labeled the vote a “sham,” claiming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the resolution for the sole purpose of trying to embarrass and split Democrats. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said McConnell had “made a mockery of the legislative process,” adding, “Everyone knows it’s a stunt…. [McConnell] puts something on the floor and then votes no, what’s the point of that?”

Lee’s speech would seem to prove Schumer’s point. While attempting to mock the Green New Deal, Lee revealed Republicans’ contempt for the issue of climate action.

Two parts in Lee’s speech were particularly bizarre.

At one point, Lee appeared to turn serious, saying, “Critics will no doubt chastise me for not taking climate change seriously, but, please, Mr. President, nothing could be further from the truth. No Utahn needs to hear lectures about the gravity of climate change from politicians from other states….”


But instead of talking about the very real threat posed to Utah by warming-worsened droughts, heatwaves, and wildfires, Lee then joked, “… For it was only in 2016, as viewers of the Syfy network will remember, when climate change hit Utah, when our own state was struck not simply by a tornado, but by a tornado with sharks in it.”

Lee then described at length a scene from the movie Sharknado, for no apparent reason.

Lee closed his remarks by arguing that the solution to climate change won’t be found in the kind of rapid transition to clean energy the Green New Deal resolution calls for, but would rather be found in “maternity wards across the country.”

“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,” he stated.


Why? “More babies will mean forward-looking adults, the sort we need to tackle long-term, large-scale problems. American babies in particular will likely be wealthier, better educated, and more conservation-minded than children raised in still-industrializing countries,” he said.

Aside from the fact that Americans generate vastly more carbon pollution per capita than people living in still-industrializing countries, Lee’s supposedly serious solution misses the central point of recent climate science.

Experts agree that the country must make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, or risk decades of worsening climate change. The Green New Deal is not a final or detailed plan to solve the climate crisis, but recognizes that the science demands very aggressive action now.