Global Warming on Mars

A new study has detected the melting of the polar icecaps on Mars. I’m sure SUVs are somehow to blame.

via Bruce McQuain

FILED UNDER: Environment, Humor, Science & Technology,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Damn. You read my comment over at QandO, James. 😉

  2. James Joyner says:

    Great minds and all that.

  3. Tlaloc says:

    Genius.

    Afterall we all know that the best way to understand the Earth’s climate is by looking at other planets. Did you know that Earth’s clouds are composed of H2SO4? It’s true! I know because that’s what the clouds on Venus are made of. And did you know that storms on earth can last centuries? Well they do on Jupiter so it must be true here too! And did you know that Earth actually has no atmosphere at all? Mercury doesn’t so the Earth simply can’t. Any temptation to refer to you as a “gas-bag” is therefor inaccurate.

    Lucky you.

  4. Andy says:

    I’m sure SUVs are somehow to blame.

    Way to sock it to all of those folks who care about the environment. I’m sure they’ll just give up now when faced with such powerfully unfunny snark.

  5. Rodney Dill says:

    Quick, Send Al.

  6. Eneils Bailey says:

    Tlaloc,

    Pulling illogical scientific conclusions out of your ass would be true for you on Earth, Mars, Venus, Jupiter….

  7. Of course it has to be SUV’s. Anything else would open the door to the possibility of debate as to global warming being anything other than man made. Since the debate is closed and all good liberal minds can not bear any questions along the lines of their being natural phenomenon at work, then the logical conclusion is that it has to be SUVs.

  8. Steve Verdon says:

    Good thing we have Tlaloc to point out that the sun plays absolutely no role what-so-ever in global warming.

  9. Craig says:

    The story you posted badly misrepresents the original research. The scientists did not measure a .5 degree temperature increase, nor did they declare that global warming exists on Mars. They measured the Martian albedo and used a computer model to calculate that the albedo change by itself, in the absence of any other factor, would result in a .65 degree temperature increase. Whether or not there is actually global warming on mars (as opposed to, say, a localized warming near the southern icecap) is unknown due to a paucity of actual temperature measurements. It might exist, or it might not.

  10. Eneils Bailey says:

    Tlaloc is ok,

    As a general statement, I come to OTB every day and read most of the posting and comments. James and the crew put up some good posts. The people who comment seem to be really intelligent, along with James and his crew. I enjoy reading everything, even Tlaloc drops a nugget to ponder every one in a while.
    If we were all made to take an IQ test, I am sure that in comparison to the majority, I would not do well here. Even against Tlaloc.
    As a teacher told me once, an ineffective use of intelligence may not exceed the judicious use of ignorance.

  11. Michael says:

    Of course it has to be SUV’s. Anything else would open the door to the possibility of debate as to global warming being anything other than man made.

    Yes, it’s much more convenient to just say it’s not your fault and we shouldn’t bother looking into it any more.

    Nobody denies the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Nobody denies the fact that we’re dumping massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. So why are you all denying that dumping CO2 into the atmosphere can cause warming?

    And just for fun, why isn’t Venus experiencing dramatic warming over the same period? It’s closer to the the sun than either Earth or Mars.

  12. Anon says:

    Michael,

    The Earth’s climate is a very complex system. The question is not so much can CO2 cause warming, as is it causing warming?

  13. Michael says:

    Anon,
    Just because it’s a complex system, doesn’t mean it can change the absorption and radiation patterns for a molecule. CO2 in the atmosphere will always trap heat, more CO2 will trap more heat than less CO2. The overall complexity of the system doesn’t change this simple fact.

    Or perhaps you are suggesting that other aspects of the system are increasing the cooling rate to account for this fact, in which case I would like it if you would specify what aspects are doing this.

  14. Michael says:

    Good thing we have Tlaloc to point out that the sun plays absolutely no role what-so-ever in global warming.

    I think Tlaloc is pointing out that just because something is happening to one planet, doesn’t mean it must also be happening on another planet, just because one of the inputs (ie, the sun) is shared between them.

  15. Tlaloc says:

    Good thing we have Tlaloc to point out that the sun plays absolutely no role what-so-ever in global warming.

    Something I never said. The sun undoubtedly plays a role.

    The problem here is that a vast uneducated commentariat has taken it upon themselves to make believe they are scientists and make such pithy statements as “I’m sure SUVs are somehow to blame [for martian global warming].”

    And these people have no sense of shame about what asses they are being because they are actively egged on by industries that hate the facts of the matter and can only fight them by obscuring the matter as much as possible (Exxon I’m looking at yoooooooooouuuuuu….).

  16. Tlaloc says:

    Mr. Joyner,

    I just wanted to say sorry about the gas-bag comment. I really do respect that you try to be open minded on most topics which is why it was so grating to see you leap whole heartedly on to an argument founded in ignorance and an attempt to spread ignorance.

    You’re wrong here.

    But you’re not a gas bag. Anyway, sorry about the personal shot. Please do rethink this position though, it has absolutely no merit to it other than making a nice sound bite. And it is being promoted to you by people whose only concern is how to prise more money out of your wallet (place tax and spend party joke here if you must).

  17. James Joyner says:

    Tlaloc,

    Actually, I’m mostly kidding here (hence the filing under the Humor category). I’m pretty sure there’s such a thing as global warming and the evidence seems reasonably strong that man’s activity is playing a not insignificant part in the phenomenon.

    I just thought the global warming on Mars thing was funny and enjoy snarking at people who get overly excited about the impact of our technology on the environment while ignoring the likelihood that that same inventiveness will reverse the problem when the incentives get strong enough.

  18. Steve Verdon says:

    Tlaloc,

    I’d suggest you work on growing a sense of humor. Clearly the SUV comment was not meant to be taken literally.

    James,

    hence the filing under the Humor category

    What!?!?!? You mean you were joking. Oh no, now I’m devastated….simply devestated. I’d have never thought you were joking.

  19. Bandit says:

    The one benefit of environmental global disaster would be that we wouldn’t have to endure Tlaloc’s constant whining.

  20. Michael says:

    the likelihood that that same inventiveness will reverse the problem when the incentives get strong enough.

    The problem with relying on our inventiveness here is terms of scale. By the time we get around to inventing ways to counteract global warming, it will already have a hundred years of accelerating behind it. It’s not that we can’t come up with a solution, its a question of can we come up with a solution fast enough.

    Even if we stopped all CO2 production today, it would still be decades before the effects of what we’re already released come into full effect. That means that by the time the noticable effects are enough to create incentives, the damage done could already be enough to make human habitation impossible in the future.

    Now this is a gloomy scenario, and probably a bit extreme, but I’m trying to remind you that this won’t be something that can be stopped in a few years, or even a few decades. The sooner we start slowing it, the easier it will be to slow.

  21. Mark says:

    Why is everyone blaming SUV’s – clearly Mars is warming because of all the cow farts…

  22. Tlaloc says:

    Actually, I’m mostly kidding here (hence the filing under the Humor category).

    While I’m glad to hear that (and I didn’t notice the humor tag) I have to say that that’s sort of like joking about holocaust denial while the President of Iran is making serious statments to that regard.

    I.e. some things aren’t really funny when there are freaks out there making the arguments loudly and in earnest.

    And in the worst case someone may confuse you with the freaks who do make those arguments in earnest (as I did).

    I just thought the global warming on Mars thing was funny and enjoy snarking at people who get overly excited about the impact of our technology on the environment while ignoring the likelihood that that same inventiveness will reverse the problem when the incentives get strong enough

    The problem there is that economic incentives don’t occur until a problem is obvious to even the most incredibly obtuse (in otherwords the market). By that point it is way too late to do anything.

    The market is actually a terrible way of dealing with crisis management. Consider that we could have dealt with OBL, Hussein, Noriega, and dozens of others long before they became problems for us. But we didn’t because nobody saw the profit in doing so. Well actually some of us did, but we’re the shrill over excited crowd.

    Instead we waited until they became huge problems.

    The problem is far more exaggerated when talking about the environment. The cumulative “momentum” of the issue is such that by the time it is obvious you have no hope of stopping it. It’s like deflecting an asteroid. If you can nudge it a little a year in advance of impact you may be successful. A day in advance and no force on earth will prevent the impact.

    Even hardcore free market lovers have to admit that one thing the market absolutely cannot do is deal with emerging issues until they become crises.

  23. floyd says:

    I am struck by the fact that “science” loses credibility with each step it takes toward becoming “religion”!Whatever else is proven by the popular position on “global warming” this certainly is!
    I have often heard the obverse position advocated with some credibility.

  24. Steve Verdon says:

    The market is actually a terrible way of dealing with crisis management. Consider that we could have dealt with OBL, Hussein, Noriega, and dozens of others long before they became problems for us.

    How exactly are these failures of the market? Is there a market for “taking care of heads of rogue states”? Where do the trade’s take place and what currency is used? This is like saying there is a market for rape…exactly who would be the suppliers? People looking to get rapped…or would they be the demand side of the market?

    And lets not bring up the point that dealing with other nation states is actually the domain of…the government and not the market.

    But we didn’t because nobody saw the profit in doing so.

    Actually, since it was the government’s responsibility and government’s don’t respond to profits and costs. In short, this is an inherent failing of government.

    Even hardcore free market lovers have to admit that one thing the market absolutely cannot do is deal with emerging issues until they become crises.

    No, this overly sweeping. Sometimes environmenal issues can be handled via private mechanisms. It depends on the various institutions in place as well as other factors such as the scope of the issue. Elinor Ostrom ha a spiffy book on this called Governing the Commons which shows that sometimes voluntary/private policies are superior to collective/coercive policies.

  25. Well, um…, there actually are a couple of anthropogenic rugged, all terrain vehicles on Mars named Spirit and Opportunity. Now whether it’s fair to call them SUVs or not is up to you.

  26. Steve Plunk says:

    So far 25 comments on this topic so I don’t think the debate concerning global warming is over. Thank goodness.

  27. Tlaloc says:

    How exactly are these failures of the market?

    That was unclear, sorry. The point was about the failure to act until the threat is imminent. That is how the market behaves. I was then giving an example of how dangerous that is with similar action (but different actors) in government.

    And lets not bring up the point that dealing with other nation states is actually the domain of…the government and not the market.

    And how is dealing with the environment not part of goverment? Especially when it relies upon international cooperation?

    Actually, since it was the government’s responsibility and government’s don’t respond to profits and costs. In short, this is an inherent failing of government.

    Funny, a lot of the people at the time were of the “run government like a business” mentality. Either way though the same failing occurs with markets, and generally far worse.

    Let’s turn it around- can you name any major successes of the market in handling crises?

    Sometimes environmenal issues can be handled via private mechanisms.

    Examples?

  28. Michael says:

    Well, um…, there actually are a couple of anthropogenic rugged, all terrain vehicles on Mars named Spirit and Opportunity. Now whether it’s fair to call them SUVs or not is up to you.

    Certainly not in the terrestrial sence, there isn’t much “sport” in those rovers. “Scientific Utility Vehicle” perhaps. But still, they’re solar powered, so the only heat they add to Mars is the difference in their radiation absorption rate compared to the absorption rate of the local land.

  29. Steve Verdon says:

    That was unclear, sorry. The point was about the failure to act until the threat is imminent. That is how the market behaves. I was then giving an example of how dangerous that is with similar action (but different actors) in government.

    Unfortunately your examples weren’t market based examples. It is like complaining about auto-mechanics ripping people off and pointing to home improvement contractors ripping people off for support.

    And how is dealing with the environment not part of goverment? Especially when it relies upon international cooperation?

    My point was that your examples are examples of government failure not market failure.

    Funny, a lot of the people at the time were of the “run government like a business” mentality. Either way though the same failing occurs with markets, and generally far worse.

    Running the government like a business wont work and frankly this argument is weak at best, IMO.

    Second, do you believe the Lancet study on the number of dead in Iraq? If so, please provide a time when a market failure killed over 600,000 people, or engaged in genocide such as what we know happened in Nazi Germany, the mass murders in the former Soviety Union and Communist China. The rampant starvation in North Korea or the mass murders in Cambodia/Kampuchea? By the way, are you familiar with economists Amartya Sen? He points to virtually all incidents of famine as being caused by politics vs. economics. So you’ll have to pardon me when I find this kind of statment just laughable.

    Let’s turn it around- can you name any major successes of the market in handling crises?

    Markets meet the basic needs of billions of people every single day. You buy food, have shelter, transportation, and the internet in large part due to markets. Hand all that cooridnating over to government and you’ll have a crisis like you’ve never seen before. Markets are the best method for allocating resources that we know of. It isn’t perfect, but it has shown itself to be far, far better than other methods of allocating resources.

    Markets can help with crises, but usually politicians prevent the market from working. Those sky high prices after Katrina? Well those are signals to producers in the market to send resources to the stricken area. Granted it isn’t out of kindness, but the profit motive, but if you were happy with the government’s reponse to Katrina I guess we really can’t continue this dicussion.

    As for examples of where private collective action worked try getting Ostrom’s book. She looks at a number of examples such as grazing pastures, Japanese forests, and irrigation systems in spain.

  30. ChaoticAtmosphere says:

    While I do not refute the fact that carbon dioxide gas traps heat within our atmosphere, I believe that this whole global warming debate is a real waste of time.

    Trees are our atmosphere’s best friend just as lightning is our ozone layer’s best friend.

    The point I’m trying to make here is that we know what the corrective measures are on a planet that will still be here long after we are gone. There are countless studies that prove that all living and non-living things including humans are part of a self-correcting system called “The Universe”.

    The collective conceit of humanity will cease to amaze me. We as a species are not invincible to the forces of this universe we know so little about.

    I believe that if everyone spent as much time planting trees as they did debating the global warming issue, then another issue would arise to debate, which, of course would become a moot point as another crater is created on this planet, at which point all debates would turn to global chilling and another species will eventually evolve when the dust settles only to discover the fossils of the living beings that populated this planet at the time the crater was formed.

    We need to get over it.