Kentucky Senator: Climate Change Is Fake Because ‘We All Agree’ Mars Is Warming Too

Kentucky state Sen. Brandon Smith. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ED REINKE
Kentucky state Sen. Brandon Smith. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ED REINKE

A prominent Kentucky state Senator on Thursday gave a glimpse of detail on why he doesn’t accept that global warming exists and is caused by humans, and his argument is a bit out of this world.

At a hearing to discuss how the state could deal with the Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposed greenhouse gas regulations for coal plants, Majority Whip Brandon Smith (R-Hazard) argued that carbon emissions from coal plants can’t be causing climate change because Mars is also experiencing a global temperature rise — and there are no coal plants emitting carbon on Mars.

“I think that in academia, we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that,” Smith said. “Yet there are no coal mines on Mars, there’s no factories on Mars that I’m aware of. So I think what we’re looking at is something much greater than what we’re going to do.”

Watch it here:

At first glance, it seems as though Smith was saying that the temperature on Mars is exactly the same as it is on Earth, an argument that is both incorrect and makes no sense, as many other news outlets have already pointed out. Smith clarified his comments on Twitter on Thursday, however, saying he meant not to imply that temperatures were the same, but that climate shifts on Earth and Mars have been the same. His implication, really, is that climate change is a solar system-wide phenomena, and can’t be caused by humans on Earth.

Smith’s argument that Mars is warming is likely based on observations of ice melt on Mars’ South Polar Cap. But there is absolutely no scientific evidence that one sole instance of melting is the result of a planet-wide trend. In fact, as Skeptical Science points out, there is virtually no historical data about the climate of Mars prior to the 1970s, except for drawings — meaning it is scientifically not possible to tell if current observations reveal long-term trends.

The irony here is that Smith claims that one instance of ice melt on Mars is a sure sign that climate shifts are occurring there, but at the same is not persuaded by the incredible mass of long-term data climate scientists have proving human-caused climate change here on earth. To quote Skeptical Science, “Here on earth we have direct measurements from all over the globe, widespread glacial retreat, reduction of sea ice, and satellite measurements of the lower troposphere up to the stratosphere. To compare this mountain of data to a few photographs of a single region on another planet strains credulity.”

Smith’s office did not immediately return ThinkProgress’ request for comment.

Though his argument against the reality of climate change may be unusual, Smith’s opposition to fighting it isn’t exactly a surprise. In 2010, he sponsored a resolution calling on Congress to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating heat-trapping gases. That action came the same week that the EPA laid out its timetable for imposing climate regulations if Congress didn’t pass its own greenhouse gas-reducing legislation.