• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Huh?! (Temperature on Mars Edition)

“I won’t get into the debate about climate change but I’ll 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. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There’s no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.”–Kentucky state Senator Brandon Smith (R) during a a Natural Resources and Environment Committee meeting.

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Tillman says:

    First, no it’s not.

    Second, lol.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  2. Rob in CT says:

    This is one of those things where I wonder what in the world he was trying to say. I cannot wrap my mind around the possibility that he actually meant the thing that came out of his mouth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  3. @Rob in CT: Indeed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. John Peabody says:

    Probably thinking of Mars, Pennslyvania.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. grumpy realist says:

    What the hell was that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. grumpy realist says:

    Maybe he’s thinking of Martian cookie monsters (scroll halfway down the page)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Matt Bernius says:

    Kentucky state Senator Brandon Smith: “I think in academia we all agree that…”

    I find it strange that Mr. Smith, the owner of an Energy Company, who only holds a BA, considers himself a member of “academia.” Does he teach at a local Community College?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  8. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Surely that deserves the Picard facepalm?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. michael reynolds says:

    The temperature on Mars is evidently something like 67 degrees below zero. So had this gentleman been from Minnesota, he’d have been correct. Although it warms up around mid-July.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    Coal mines are shutting down because coal is no longer competitive with natural gas for power generation. Montana want s to ship coal to China via ports in the Pacific Northwest – so far we have been able to stop it.
    Ignorant greedy people tend to elect ignorant greedy people although Senator Brandon Smith’s comment has taken outright ignorance to a new high.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  11. CSK says:

    Actually, Smith was correct…if he was talking about conditions 3.5 billion years ago. There’s some useful information here: quest.nasa.gov/aero/planetary/mars.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    No, I think this deserves a full on Tommy Lee Jones with a Newspaper

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Mikey says:

    @Rob in CT: I believe he meant the kinds of changes in global temperature we observe here on Earth are also occurring on Mars–it’s kind of a conservative talking point that temperatures are increasing on other planets, and there aren’t any factories on those, therefore warming is a natural process to which we aren’t contributing, etc.

    See http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-on-mars.htm

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  14. Matt Bernius says:

    @Mikey:
    Nice find. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard this particular line of “logic.”

    That said, Senator Smith could have said that much better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. Rob in CT says:

    @Mikey:

    Ahah! Yes, I vaguely recall that talking point coming up.

    So this might be a garbled version of that (bs) talking point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  16. grumpy realist says:

    @Mikey: That’s sort of like arguing because of the existence of lightning you don’t have to worry about grounding your house circuits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. Stonetools says:

    Hey it can’t be that cold. If it was there wouldn’t be water flowing in those canals like you see on the Martian Chronicles….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. dazedandconfused says:

    @Stonetools:

    At Martian pressures water comes in ice and vapor only. A cool line of thought floating around is if an intelligent form of life evolved in the methane pools of Titan, it would view the earth the way we would view a world consisting of mainly molten lead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. argon says:

    It is sad but what really makes the news is when a Republican representative actually says something accurate about climate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. DrDaveT says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    A cool line of thought floating around is if an intelligent form of life evolved in the methane pools of Titan, it would view the earth the way we would view a world consisting of mainly molten lead.

    Cf Iceworld, by Hal Clement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. Ron Beasley says:

    @CSK: That is correct – 3 billion years ago Mars still had a magnetic field so the solar wind could not sweep it’s atmosphere away so it would have been much warmer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. Steve says:

    Is it possible that he meant to say that Mars is experiencing warming too, despite the fact that there is no man-made component that could be blamed for that change? Thus, his argument is that external factors rather than man-made factors are more likely to be causing any warming here on earth. (I don’t know whether this is accurate or not, just curious as to whether this may have been what he meant to say.). This would, though, make more sense. I think that while many climate change proponents like to erect a straw man on climate change, many accused of being deniers don’t deny climate change itself, but rather debate the extent of man’s contribution and whether drastic changes to public policy can affect change such that they would be worth the cost. That may be the point this guy was inartfully trying to make. I wonder if Stephen has more of the transcript of this event to provide context. … Or maybe he is just dumb.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  23. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steve:

    Is it possible that he meant to say that Mars is experiencing warming too, despite the fact that there is no man-made component that could be blamed for that change?

    Chances are that is what he’s saying. However, the problem with this argument is that Mars cannot serve as a “control” in this argument and is warming for entirely different reasons. See the following page for a quick explanation of why:
    See http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-on-mars.htm

    This would, though, make more sense. I think that while many climate change proponents like to erect a straw man on climate change, many accused of being deniers don’t deny climate change itself, but rather debate the extent of man’s contribution and whether drastic changes to public policy can affect change such that they would be worth the cost.

    Couple points here. It’s only been begrudgingly recent that most climate “skeptics” have stated that climate change has been going on. And many still don’t want to admit it. It’s basically taken *every* data set sans one to show a continued warming trend before we could get to this point.

    The challenge is that if you (or anyone) looks at the evidence, it’s become clear that (a) man is not only causing climate change, but (b) causing a significant amount of it. It’s simply harder and hard to be an honest skeptic on that particular topic.

    You are correct that the policy debate is a place where true skeptical debate can happen — if for no other reason that there is no data to quantify how much of an effect policy can have and multiple ways for policy to address these issues. Likewise there is debate as to what the exact nature of climate change effects will be — which makes the policy discussion harder to have.

    But in the case of Senator Smith, it’s pretty clear that he’s not being an “honest skeptic” if he’s choosing to advance this particular conversation (btw, did we mention he’s also in the Coal business)?

    BTW, here’s the longest clip I’ve found of the statement:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCF_Yy3oFNo

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  24. grumpy realist says:

    The other thing is that we can squabble as much as we want about man-made vs. non-man-made CO2 in the air–Mama Nature don’t care how it got there. She’s just going to say, “temperature going UP!!” and we’re going to have to deal with the results.

    (I’m starting to believe more and more in my friend’s SF story about how, realizing their imminent extinction via comet, the dinosaurs bio-engineered the brain development of a small, squeaky shrew that would down the road turn into a technology-using ape that would burn up all the coal and oil in the ground and return the Earth to the climate favoring dinosaurs.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. Rob in CT says:

    Yeah, I think we can call this one confirmed. What he meant to say was “Mars is warming too, there are no coal mines & factories on Mars, therefore CO2 output from burning coal isn’t causing warming here on Earth.” This is riddled with errors*, but it’s slightly less crazy than “Mars is the same temp as Earth.”

    Of course the guy owns a coal company. It is difficult to get a man to understand that which his paycheck depends on him not understanding. Though I think ideology probably trumps that effect most of the time anyway.

    * – for one thing, it’s far from clear that Mars is warming; if it is warming it may be due to orbital effects – and Mars’ orbit is significantly different than Earth’s, it may simply be seasonal fluctuation, and so on. My googling on this makes it clear that stating Mars is warming is dubious and then extrapolating from that to claim that Earth’s warming is therefore due to the sun is totally unsupported. In order for his argument to work, you basically have to believe either: a) carbon dioxide is *not* a greenhouse gas; or b) going from ~250ppm to ~400ppm of carbon dioxide has essentially no impact on our climate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. Matt Bernius says:

    @Rob in CT:
    Additionally these arguments ignore the fact that if Mars is warming, the trend has only been apparent for a few years, while the Earth’s warming trend has been going on for *decades.*

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0