Kentucky Senator on Global Warming: ‘There Are No Coal Mines on Mars’

National Journal
Clare Foran
July 8, 2014, 11:27 a.m.

Cli­mate deni­al is alive and well in Ken­tucky — but it has taken an odd new twist.

Re­pub­lic­an state Sen. Brandon Smith had this to say about glob­al warm­ing last Thursday dur­ing a hear­ing con­vened by the Ken­tucky In­ter­im Joint Com­mit­tee on Nat­ur­al Re­sources and En­vir­on­ment:

“I don’t want to get in­to the de­bate about cli­mate change. But I will just simply point out that I think that 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. So I think what we’re look­ing at is something much great­er than what we’re go­ing to do.”

Smith’s state­ment con­tains the stand­ard ar­gu­ment ad­vanced by cli­mate den­iers: The idea that hu­man activ­ity, like the burn­ing of fossil fuels, has not caused glob­al warm­ing. That runs counter to the sci­entif­ic con­sensus: Peer-re­viewed lit­er­at­ure sur­veys in­dic­ate that 97 per­cent of cli­mate sci­ent­ists agree that the plan­et is heat­ing up and that hu­man activ­ity is the primary driver of that change.

But the Re­pub­lic­an law­maker ex­plores a fresh take with his in­ter­stel­lar com­par­is­on. There are in­deed no coal mines on Mars, but most everything else in Smith’s state­ment is fac­tu­ally bank­rupt.

Smith claims that Earth is ex­actly the same tem­per­at­ure as Mars. Ac­cord­ing to NASA, the Earth’s av­er­age tem­per­at­ure is 57 de­grees Fahren­heit. By con­trast, Mars has an av­er­age tem­per­at­ure of neg­at­ive 81 de­grees Fahren­heit.

Smith was elec­ted to four terms in the Ken­tucky House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives, and is cur­rently serving his second-term in the state Sen­ate. And ac­cord­ing to Ken­tucky NPR af­fil­i­ate WKMS, he is also the own­er of a coal com­pany.

Watch what Smith has to say here: