Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara/Ventura, co-sponsored a House resolution suggesting there may be a link between prostitution and climate change, and Paul Coyne, Jr., a 2014 candidate for Capps’ congressional seat, has pounced on her for making such a claim.

“This is over the edge and a little out of touch with reality and the needs of our district right now,” said Coyne. “People are searching for jobs, looking for their next meal. There are higher priorities than this.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, introduced the resolution that says climate change can cause drought and reduced agricultural output, which can be harmful for women who have limited socioeconomic resources and “may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy and poor reproductive health.”

Because weather patterns are changing, chances for regional conflict increase with climate change, the resolution says. This could lead to a refugee and migration crisis, which also links to prostitution.

Coyne said Capps is “spinning her wheels” getting involved with this resolution and said she shouldn’t be blaming global warming for the plight of marginalized women around the world. Instead, she should be taking a leadership role in U.S. interventionist policies that have lead to the deaths of many innocent women and children abroad.

But Capps’ office brushed Coyne’s accusations aside, saying he is just reading from conservative blogs and trying to make a name for himself.

“This resolution has been grossly mischaracterized by Coyne,” said Ashley Schapitl, Capps’ press secretary. “You might have a resolution about the anniversary of Sept 11, and by passing it you don’t change any policies, you just remember the families. This was just a resolution and not an HR bill, which is more substantive.”

Schapitl explained that the resolution expresses some of the main conclusions from a United Nations report, “Women at the Frontline of Climate Change: Gender Risks and Hopes,” and it talks about the broad societal impacts of climate change on women around the world.

“It’s more so expressing the sense that climate change is real, it’s happening and its broad societal consequences,” she added. “It’s unfortunate it has been so misconstrued.”

Coyne said he understands it is a resolution and not binding law, “but to spend time on this is a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.”

Capps, Schapitl said, has always been active in environmental legislation and is leading substantive pieces of legislation to address global change. Most recently, on Friday, May 17, she introduced the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act that would address the negative health effects related to climate change by supporting research, surveillance, planning and interagency coordination to develop a national plan for action.