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

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:

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 5067) }}