The week began weird and then got weirder. First, it was reported that a Kentucky state senator said climate change is implausible because Earth and Mars share the exact same temperature. And then a U.S. congressman linked the climate change debate to the ozone hole "hoax" and the fluorination of water.
So, let's begin with Kentucky State Senator Brandon Smith (R-D30), the majority whip and owner of a mining company who lashed out at a witness during a Natural Resources and Environment Committee meeting:
As you [Energy & Environment Cabinet official] 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 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.
Meteorologist Dan Satterfield, blogging over at the American Geophysical Union, was swift and merciless in his response:
A statement like this from a 5th grader would be alarming, but from someone (State Senator Brandon Smith) who makes laws is downright frightening. What is more frightening is that the science literacy of his constituency is so low, he'll likely be easily reelected. In case there are any doubts I looked up the weather on Mars today. We can do that thanks to a set of meteorological instruments aboard NASA's Curiosity Rover.
The fact that he owns a coal mine might have something to do with this. As Sebastian Unger said in the Jungle, "It's nearly impossible to convince some of anything, if their paycheck depends on it being otherwise". Your grade school should cancel your diploma Senator. Your voters should fire you.
And then yesterday, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) was a guest of honor at the 9th International Conference on Climate Change, a three-day denial-fest sponsored by dozens of organizations, including the Heartland Institute, an oil and gas industry-funded think tank.
During Congressional hearings, Rohrabacher uses air quotes when he says "global warming" and once demanded that a scientist "capsulize" all the reasons why he believes that climate change is a big deal in 10 seconds.