Congrats to Kentucky for Electing This Moron


I write all the time about the incredibly stupid things legislators say, especially Republicans and especially at the state level. But nothing could prepare me for the epic idiocy of Sen. Brandon Smith of Kentucky. This is an actual quote from him during a hearing on climate change.

“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 don’t want to get into the debate about climate change, but I will 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 are no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.”

Really? Nobody will dispute that the temperature on Mars is the same as it is on earth? I know 6-year olds who know that Mars is far, far colder than Earth. They can even give you the obvious reason why, which is that Mars is about 50% further from the sun than the Earth is (142 million miles vs 93 million miles). When you’re further from the sun, you aren’t as warm. This isn’t some high-level astronomy stuff, this is like first grade material.

And get this: Smith has been elected to the Kentucky House four times and the Kentucky Senate twice. This weapons-grade moron shouldn’t be able to get hired to run a tilt-a-whirl, for crying out loud.

Comments

  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    The thin atmosphere of Mars is perhaps less obvious, but more significant.

    But it’s time for some numbers:
    What is the Temperature of Mars?

    On average, the temperature on Mars is about minus 80 degrees F (minus 60 degrees C). In winter, near the poles temperatures can get down to minus 195 degrees F (minus 125 degrees C). A summer day on Mars may get up to 70 degrees F (20 degrees C) near the equator, but at night the temperature can plummet to about minus 100 degrees F (minus 73 C)…

  2. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Congratulations???

  3. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Nobody will dispute that the temperature on Mars is the same as it is on earth?

    Hey, I will.

    Me and the rocket scientists at NASA and, y’know, pretty much everyone.

  4. Crimson Clupeidae says

    The whole ‘no one will dispute’ phrase….is that something fairly recent that the GOP noise machine has come up with in their continued attempts to silence opposition?

    I ask because it seems to me that various versions of this have been more noticeable lately (from the rare occasions I expose my poor brain cells directly to right wing propaganda, usually via Bill Maher’s show), and the phrase is invariably followed by something that anyone with a lick of common sense would, indeed, disagree with.

  5. cswella says

    Even IF Mars was the same temperature as it is here, still doesn’t tell us anything about our ecosystem.

    With that level of rhetoric, I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned out to support an Earth-Centric system.

  6. eric says

    I bet he’s referring to a story a few months back. During the cold snap we had in the US (in…February?), there were parts of Minnesota that were colder than parts of Mars on the same day. Which was a fun “here’s an interesting factoid” kind of news story, but not something anyone should be basing climate policy on.

    And you are somewhat wrong as to the “why.” Distance does play a factor but atmospherics are more important; they are the reason, for example, that Venus is hotter than Mercury. Likewise if Mars had retained its primordial hypothesized atmosphere and really did have liquid water on the surfact at some point, then it must have had temperatures more comparable in temperature to earth. AIUI Mars’ lighter gravity and lack of protective magnetic belts meant the atmosphere slowly boiled away or was blown off by the stellar wind.

  7. vmanis1 says

    Actually, Sen. S***-for-Brains Smith is correct. The temperature in Mars, PA (a little bit north of Pittsburgh) is pretty much the same as that on Earth. Of course, that’s coal-mining country, so of course his claim that there are are no coal mines in Mars is of course wrong.

    It must be really humiliating to come in last on Are You Smarter Than A Canteloupe?.

  8. A Masked Avenger says

    Since we’re guessing, my guess is that he heard the claim that Mars has experienced global climate change in parallel with Earth (supposedly proving that solar activity is the primary driver). Having a minimal grasp of what he was hearing, he turned “Mars is showing the same warming pattern as Earth” into “Mars is the same temperature as the Earth.”

  9. blf says

    He is, er, will be, correct. After the Ancient Mayan Astronauts, returning in Starship Siding Spring land on Mars later this year, they’ll initiate a terraforming project to make it more like the Earth climate they are used to. This will make it easier for them to build and supply the invasion force needed to retake the Earth, as foretold by the Great Collapsing Mayan Calender Disaster back in 2012.

    This means he’s in league with aliens. Well, Ancient Mayan Astronauts…

  10. Jordan Genso says

    @10

    That was my initial thought- that he meant to say “climate change” rather than “temperature”.

    I have no reason to believe that Mars is experiencing the same rate of climate change as Earth, but if it is, then he would at least have something resembling a point.

  11. Michael Heath says

    My state representative is even stupider. He’s an ex-TV weatherman that argues that because the climate changed in the past, there can’t be anthropogenic global warming now. He’s also introduced legislation banning implementation of U.N. Agenda 21.

    He’s term-limited and has a good shot of becoming a state senator this year.

    Greg MacMasters is his name.

  12. Dweller in Darkness says

    @7 – I quite sure you’re right. As you say, it has NOTHING to do with the climate change debate (while we were in deep, deep cold, overall this last winter was quite warm, globally).

  13. blf says

    Incidentally, what did he mean by “in academia we all agree that…” (emboldening added).

    Assuming he didn’t mis-speak — which is quite possibly a poor assumption — that sounds like he is claiming to be an academic. Presumably at liberty “university” or some other diploma mill, otherwise (albeit based exclusively on this incident) I have a hard time imagining him being an academic…

  14. abb3w says

    Incidentally, it looks like another example of talking points intended to be more phatic than literal.

  15. scienceavenger says

    @10: Since we’re guessing, my guess is that he heard the claim that Mars has experienced global climate change in parallel with Earth (supposedly proving that solar activity is the primary driver).

    That is indeed a common anti-AGW trope, and possibly the worst of the bunch, since its akin to saying “But Doctor, the dozen donuts I eat every morning can’t possibly be the reason I’m fat, because my friend John is fat, and he doesn’t eat donuts”.

  16. tfkreference says

    He’s probably referring to a denialist argument that the temperature of Mars has increased. Regardless, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing – and he certainly has little knowledge.

  17. says

    “This means he’s in league with aliens. Well, Ancient Mayan Astronauts…”

    No wonder they’re all so anti-immigrant.

    @19:

    It would have been wonderful if he had linked to the article that you did (without reading past the first couple of sentences).

  18. colnago80 says

    Re eric @ #7

    In addition to distance from the Sun and atmosphere composition, there is the case of Jupiter’s moons Europa and Enceladus. These have liquid water oceans underneath a thick shell of water ice caused by tidal forces from Jupiter that induce internal friction in them that warm them.

  19. says

    Not only is he a state senator, but also the Majority Whip! The 30th district is in extreme coal country and has never been known for a quality education system… but them boys can play some ball!

    As much as I love my home state, I do worry about who we send to Frankfort and Washington. No wonder everyone thinks we’re idiots!

  20. suttkus says

    Yeah, see, Mars and Pluto are currently showing warming, just like Earth! Three bodies out of the solar system are warming! Coincidence? This proves that global warming is caused by the sun, despite the fact that the sun isn’t itself doing any warming. Ignore that part! Also ignore all the other planets and dwarf planets that aren’t showing any signs of warming. Because the sun mysteriously putting out more heat despite not being hotter and only heating three of the things around it is totally a reasonable theory. Take that global warming activists!

  21. wscott says

    Someone really needs to start making a “This Week In Stupid Wingnut Statements” image gathering the top 4-6 dumbest things said this week in one place for easy sharing. I’m thinking something along the lines of the “This Week In Science” images that go around on FB.

  22. Trebuchet says

    And Venus has LOTS of CO2 and it’s exactly the same temperature as earth too! What greenhouse effect?

    Now if we could just teleport about half of Venus’s atmosphere to Mars, maybe we could create a couple of worlds to move to after we ruin this one.

  23. says

    The 30th district is in extreme coal country

    And this is all you really need to know. He’s using whatever half-assed reasons he can think of in order to pander to the coal industry. And now the Supreme Court has ruled that it doesn’t matter whether or not something is factually accurate, just that you have a “sincerely held belief” that it’s true, we have to respect that. So, look for the “Mars is the same temperature as the Earth” belief being cited alongside the latest data from the Curiosity rover.

  24. says

    d.c.wilson “So, look for the “Mars is the same temperature as the Earth” belief being cited alongside the latest data from the Curiosity rover.”
    IF CARBON DIOXIDE IS SO BAD FOR US, HOW COME NASA GAVE THE MARS ROVER A TURBO DIESEL?!!! CHECKMATE ENVIRONMENT!!!

  25. Mobius says

    And Oklahoma has elected Inhofe to Congress and the Senate how many times?

    When you are a Republican, being a moron is an advantage.

  26. moarscienceplz says

    Well golly. He was obviously talking about a different Mars.

    Why certainly he was! Kenneth Mars died in 2011, so I’m sure he is the same temperature as the earth he is buried in.

  27. jakc says

    Well, Mars does have some global warming due to the amount of in the atmosphere. Despite the relative lack of atmosphere, the high percentage means Mars has about eight times as much CO2 (by mass) as the Earth atmosphere. So yeah, Mars probably has a little more global warming than Earth. So what? Venus has a lot more global warming than either. The question is not whether global warming can occur without human action – it can – but rather how much we have affected the process

    Also, modusoperandi is right Martian Al Gore is fat

  28. says

    Distance does play a factor but atmospherics are more important; they are the reason, for example, that Venus is hotter than Mercury.

    And the reason is…. the greenhouse effect.

    Others have alluded to this, but a few years back there was an extremely stupid denialist trope going around claiming that other planets in the solar system were getting warmer, hence if global warming is happening (which we’re not saying it is) it must be caused by the sun.

    These are the same people who refuse to believe in the Earth’s warming trend, as measured by NASA, because NASA is part of a grand commie conspiracy or something. Yet they do believe in an ongoing warming trend on other planets based on a few snap-shots taken by NASA probes.

  29. thebookofdave says

    Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There are no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.

    That’s a pretty bold statement, Brandon Smith. I wonder what evidence you offer to back up that claim. Actually, a well-placed hint in the wingnutosphere that the Obama Administration is suppressing evidence of massive coal and oil deposits on Mars might spur an unprecedented public demand for interplanetary exploration.

  30. says

    The 30th district is in extreme coal country and has never been known for a quality education system… but them boys can play some ball!

    This is literally one of the poorest places in the whole country. Of the six counties in his district, five are among the 100 poorest in the United States. (The US has over 3000 counties.) Coal has brought this guy’s district nothing but grinding poverty.

    I swear, coal state voters are like the marks of a con-artist, who matter no how obvious it is that they’ve been had, still want to believe and keep coming back to get fleeced again. Except in this case, the con-artist is also busy killing thousands of people every year and endangering the entire world’s future.

  31. says

    “The question is not whether global warming can occur without human action – it can – but rather how much we have affected the process.”

    I think the real question, the one nobody WANTS the answer to is how much the process is gonna affect us.

    @26:

    You can expect a bouquet from on of our resident trolls for that last line.

  32. eric says

    @24 – yes, and Io has surface volcanos that occasionally make local areas on the planet heat up to something like 1200 or 1700 C, much hotter than pretty much anywhere else in the Solar System except the sun. However, I wasn’t going to count those (or the oceans under ice) because IMO they aren’t really stable surface temperatures. But your general point is good – for gas giant moons, tidal warping is another factor which is more important for surface temperature (than distance from the sun).

  33. caseloweraz says

    Ed Brayton: This isn’t some high-level astronomy stuff, this is like first grade material.

    Well, there’s your problem. First-grade material includes data and stuff, and Brandon Smith has put his data and stuff behind him.

    Also, I like the way he declares he doesn’t want to get into the climate change debate, then plunges right in (with a talking point that’s about ten years out of date, to boot.)

  34. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ ^ caseloweraz : Yep. Brandon Smith’s PRATT is brillantly debunked here for example (among many other places) :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSXgiml5UwM

    The Mars Attacks clip – part of the Climate Denial Crock of the Week by Greenman3610 posted back in 2009 so five years ago. Well worth watching that clip if you haven’t already.

  35. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    PS. PRATT = Point refuted A Thousand Times. (Dunno how the extra ‘T’ got there, must have spilled some from my cuppa.)

    Meanwhile, here on Earth (figuratively and literally) the science is moving on and getting even scarier :

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-07/giant-antarctic-ice-shelves-could-melt-faster-than-expected/5579678

    ***

    “I like ice also as an indicator of climate change for its political neutrality.
    Ice asks no questions, presents no arguments, reads no newspapers, listens to no debates. Its not burdened by ideology and carries no political baggage as it crosses the threshold from solid to liquid. It just melts.”

    – Dr Henry Pollack, geophysicist, University of Michigan.

    Source : ‘Watts Up with Sea Ice?’ Youtube video by Greenman3610 in his Climate Denial Crock of the Week series at the 1 minute 14 secs to 1 minute 51 seconds mark.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Today we will travel to the Kentucky state legislature to learn a bit about the climate on other planets in our solar system.  Why Kentucky?  Because it may be the only place in the nation where this specific fact can be learned.  No university or high school teaches this bit of trivia, yet here in the Kentucky state Senate, Sen. Brandon Smith is straight up schooling people during a hearing on climate change: […]

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