Beto O’Rourke recounted during CNN’s seven-hour climate change debate Wednesday how he had warned his son that rising temperatures would make their home “uninhabitable, will not sustain human life.”
O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, told the story in response to a question about how he would address extreme heat’s deadly impact on “vulnerable populations.” He said his son, Henry, had asked him “the other night” if they could stay in El Paso in the event of an O’Rourke presidency.
“I said ‘no.’ If we win, the way this works, we would live in Washington, D.C.,” O’Rourke said. “But he knew, because I had told him about the warming that we face that our community will be uninhabitable, will not sustain human life along this current trajectory unless something dramatically and fundamentally changes.”
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O’Rourke also said: “In the year 2100, when my 8-year-old son Henry is gonna be 88 years old, this planet will have warmed 4 1/2 to 5 degrees Celsius. As scientists say, at that point, we are screwed.”
O’Rourke joined more than half of the Democratic presidential candidates who appeared in back-to-back town halls in New York in endorsing taxes or fees on carbon dioxide pollution. Like nearly all the candidates, he pledged to reenter the Paris climate agreement on “Day 1.”
Having made support for immigration central to his campaign, which is lagging in the polls, O’Rourke called for asylum law to “include those who have been impacted by climate change.” He called for granting temporary protected status “to anyone who wants to seek shelter here” from the Bahamas, which has been hit hard by Hurricane Dorian.
At the same time, O’Rourke voiced opposition to regulations on the meat industry, a major contributor to global warming.
“I reject any notion that we have to radically or fundamentally change how we eat or what we eat. I think we just have to be more responsible in the way that we do it, and the best way to do that is to allow the market to respond by setting a price on carbon,” he said.
Twitter response to Beto warning his 8-year-old son about climate change
Some liberals on Twitter were impressed with O’Rourke’s performance.
I like the way @BetoORourke framed the #GreenNewDeal as this generations opportunity to be the New "greatest generation."
— Rick Smith (@RickSmithShow) September 5, 2019
However, conservatives seized on O’Rourke’s warning to his son, responding with condemnation and mockery.
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Blaze Media’s Jason Howerton said he hoped O’Rourke was “lying for politics.”
“No child should be worried about his home being ‘unsustainable to human life,'” Howerton said. “That sh– is scary to a kid.”
“Let kids be kids ffs,” he added.
Also, Beto is officially the subject I was parodying with the “not in my America” tweet that went viral…
Let kids be kids ffs https://t.co/80NPIzfEZc
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) September 5, 2019
Social media influencer Caleb Hull was sure O’Rourke had made up the story.
Beto O'Rourke says his 8 year old talked to him and that he knows El Paso "would not sustain human life unless something dramatic changes" with climate change.
I'll take "Things That Never Happened" for $800, Alex. pic.twitter.com/VqPdIHZn4J
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) September 5, 2019
Last October, a major Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report predicted that global temperatures would rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 14 degree Fahrenheit, between 2030 and 2052. Climate scientists have identified the 1.5-degree increase as the threshold at which there is no turning back the damage to the planet.
However, that would not make the planet uninhabitable to humans. Rather, the report warned that if countries do not slash their reliance on fossil fuels ― 45 percent by 2030 and essentially to zero by 2052 ― the world may become less hospitable to their current way of life, with higher sea levels, hotter heat waves and more extreme disasters.
In other words, if the scientists are right, if human life continues as is, and if a technological solution is not found, people are going to pay a price, which the report set at $54 trillion.