This Politician's Response To A Question From A Teenager Will Infuriate And Depress You

The young are the most climatologically cognizant generation to date. Avivi Aharon/Shutterstock

Who is Scott Wagner? You’ve almost certainly never heard of him, which is perfectly understandable: he’s a GOP state senator – and candidate for governor – in Pennsylvania, so why would he make international headlines? Well, as spotted by Splinter, he’s not only a climate change denier, but he’s an incredibly patronizing one too.

While he was speaking at a town hall gathering in Glenside last week, an 18-year-old named Rose – a member of the Sunrise Movement, a climate change advocacy organization – stood up to ask him a question. It was in reference to comments he made a while back, which we really need to repeat in full.

Back in March of last year, he was asked about climate change by a reporter at a public event, to which he replied: “We have more people. You know, humans have warm bodies. So is heat coming off? Things are changing, but I think we are, as a society, doing the best we can.”

He also suggested that the planet’s getting warmer because the Earth is getting closer to the Sun (it’s not), which is almost adorable in its ignorance. Still, the “body heat” claim is the cherry on top of the cake of despair, and Rose decided to ask if those comments had anything to do with the money that the fossil fuel industry send his way through lobbying efforts.

His applauded response was brain-achingly awful: “Rose, you know I appreciate you being here. You’re 18 years old, you’re a little young and naïve.” He comprehensively failed to even acknowledge the question.

“Are we here to elect a governor, or are we here to elect a scientist?” he added.

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Now, Wagner isn’t even a good climate change denier, by which I mean that he doesn’t even word his denial in a vaguely clever way. Those armed with more agile linguistic deceptions – Scott Pruitt, say – were never fooling those in the know, but his denial tactics were worded in such a way as to muddy the waters of climate science, and sow seeds of doubt in people's minds.

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