This image provided Thursday Sept. 1, 2011 by NASA shows NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity using its camera to take this picture showing the rover's arm extended, Aug. 21, 2011.
NASA/AP

‘There are no coal mines on Mars’

Updated
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) recently attended a climate-deniers conference, where he shared an anti-fluoride rant with the event’s attendees. Watching his comments, I thought to myself how this represented another small step backwards for Republicans and science – especially given the fact that Rohrabacher is on the House Science Committee.
 
But if this represented a small step backwards for the GOP and science, this is a bigger step in the wrong direction.
Republican state Sen. Brandon Smith of Kentucky has a new theory on why climate change couldn’t possibly be slowly warming the earth’s temperature, resulting in legions of effects to the environment and its inhabitants.
 
The reason, according to alternative paper LEO Weekly, seems to be that since Mars and Earth have identical temperatures, Earth’s climate cannot possibly be the result of human activity.
 
“As you sit there in your chair with your data, we sit up here in ours with our data and our constituents and stuff behind us. I don’t want to get into the debate about climate change, but I will simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that,” said the senator in a video posted by the weekly publication. “Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There are no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.”
As Rebecca Leber noted, it’s worth remembering that Brandon Smith just “happens to own a few coal mines.”
 
This shouldn’t be necessary, but let’s go ahead and highlight some of the rather important flaws in his truly awful argument against climate science.
 
Smith insisted, for example, that “nobody will dispute” the assertion that Mars and Earth have “exactly” the same temperature. In reality, everyone will dispute that – NASA reports that the average temperature on Mars is about -81 degrees Fahrenheit. The average temperature on Earth is 57 degrees Fahrenheit. To see these numbers as “exactly” the same is to believe temperatures have no meaning.
 
The Republican state lawmaker also seems to believe the only way for a planet to get warmer is through the presence of coal mines and factories. I’m afraid that doesn’t make sense. Mercury, for example, has daytime temperatures that can reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not because of carbon pollution; it’s because it’s the closest planet in our solar system to the Sun.
 
Note that Smith also said “in academia, we all agree.” Smith is not in academia.
 
And finally, the Kentucky state senator believes those who believe climate science and those who don’t all have “data,” as if there’s comparable evidence for both sides. That’s ridiculously untrue – one side has data; the other side has the belief that the data is an elaborate hoax, fabricated as part of a conspiracy to undermine free enterprise.
 

Climate Change, Global Warming and Kentucky

'There are no coal mines on Mars'

Updated