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Climate Change Deniers use Mars as latest Strawman

by jamess Thu May 21st, 2009 at 09:22:48 AM EST

Hardball - Chris Matthews  May 19, 2009
Debating the Emission-Cap Bill - Clip

with Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, CA
playing the role of Talking Point Parrot -- Squawk!

This faux science appeal by Rohrabacher has little to do with real science, and everything to do with stalling and denial.

Chris Matthews smartly poked holes in Rohrabacher science-y ducking and weaving -- equated it, the stanch Denial by Tobacco Executives, when confronted with overwhelming scientific evidence linking Cancer to Cigarettes.

Still, Rohrabacher kept hiding behind the "supposed" Global Warming occurring on Mars -- apparently this "Talking Point" is their new "last retreat".

Dana just kept asking, someone explain to me "Why we see Temperatures Rising on Mars, when there are NO People there?"

So being the science geek, that I am,
I decided to look into the evidence, to try to separate out the facts from the spin ...

Mars Warming Sure to Heat Up Political Debate
By Luke O'Brien - April 4, 2007

Republican climate change skeptics in Congress are bound to delight in the news that Mars is experiencing its own warming trend.
Because hotter temperatures create more dust storms, Mars will likely continue to warm up, which is dandy for Republicans like Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California). In a hearing last week, Rohrabacher lamented the "arrogant" and "anti-scientific" dismissal of global warming research funded by oil and gas companies. Rohrabacher then proceeded to dismiss the overwhelming majority of scientists who believe global warming is real and caused by humans. He managed to smuggle in a Mars warming reference to back up his point.

And he's not alone. Here's Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) in a hearing last month: "Apparently, Mars, too, is afflicted with global warming. Are humans responsible for that too?"

(emphasis added)

To GOP operatives who see science a means to muddy the political waters, not as a means to gain knowledge, the Ice Caps melting on Mars IS phenomena news!

Yet if they ever bothered to read beneath the headlines, or bothered to learn about Cause and Effect in that boring Physics Class, they might have taken a different tack toward that Mars Warming News?

Mars heating up: NASA
ABCNewsOnline - Reuters - April 5, 2007

Earth's dusty neighbour Mars is grappling with its own form of climate change as fluctuating solar radiation is kicking up dust and winds that may be melting the planet's southern polar ice cap, scientists have announced.
NASA scientist Lori Fenton and colleagues, reporting this week in the journal Nature, now believe variations in radiation from the surface of Mars are fuelling strong winds that stir up giant dust storms, trapping heat and raising the planet's temperature.

By studying changes in light reflected from the surface of Mars, a measure known as an object's albedo, they predict the red planet has warmed by around 0.65 degree Celsius from the 1970s to the 1990s, which may in part have caused the recent retreat of the southern polar ice cap.

On earth, carbon dioxide traps infrared radiation which can affect global climate, this a phenomenon is known as the greenhouse effect, fossil fuel emissions add to the problem.

On Mars, it is the red-tinged dust.

(emphasis added)

Mars Warming Sure to Heat Up Political Debate

The scientists published their results in Nature this week and attributed the warming to dust storms that expose dark rock that absorbs more heat from the sun.

When in doubt, Go to the Source -- I always say.

What did the actual scientists have to say about their observations of  Temperature changes on Mars.  Did THEY Blame Solar Flares, like the GOP Parrots do, or what?

Nature 446, 646-649 (5 April 2007)
Lori K. Fenton[1], Paul E. Geissler[3]  &  Robert M. Haberle[2]
Global warming and climate forcing by recent albedo changes on Mars

For hundreds of years, scientists have tracked the changing appearance of Mars, first by hand drawings and later by photographs. Because of this historical record, many classical albedo patterns have long been known to shift in appearance over time. Decadal variations of the martian surface albedo are generally attributed to removal and deposition of small amounts of relatively bright dust on the surface.
Here we present predictions from a Mars general circulation model, indicating that the observed interannual albedo alterations strongly influence the martian environment. Results indicate enhanced wind stress in recently darkened areas and decreased wind stress in brightened areas, producing a positive feedback system in which the albedo changes strengthen the winds that generate the changes.

The simulations also predict a net annual global warming of surface air temperatures by approx 0.65 K, enhancing dust lifting by increasing the likelihood of dust devil generation. The increase in global dust lifting by both wind stress and dust devils may affect the mechanisms that trigger large dust storm initiation, a poorly understood phenomenon, unique to Mars.

(emphasis added)
Scientists from:
   1. Carl Sagan Center,
   2. Space Science Division, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California 94035, USA
   3. US Geological Survey, Flagstaff, Arizona 86001, USA

So it's a complex positive feedback cycle, occurring between Light-colored Dust, Dark-colored Surface, Wind patterns, Dust devils, and massive Dust Storms -- which redistribute that all that Light-colored Dust all over again, causing the changes in those exposed dark surface areas, areas which warm faster than the lighter areas.

Think about similar "albedo patterns" feedback cycles on earth, at the poles -- the more the ice cap melts there, the more the "darker waters" are exposed to absorb solar radiation, and so, the more ice cap melts there ...

That's call a positive feedback loop -- cycles which are hard to break, once they build up so much momentum (aka. reach a Tipping Point.)

Funny, how the scientists who issued the Mars study -- did not blame the Sun, Solar Activity, nor those evil tax-happy environmentalists -- even though the GOP Climate Change Deniers will keep clinging to their Party of NO Ideas, and their faux Science stalking horses.

And I have to give Kudos to Matthews, for calling BS on Rohrabacher --
with this direct challenge:
"Tell me sir, Do you believe in the Scientific Method, as the means for finding Truth, or do you have some other Method by which you reach your Beliefs?"

Rohrabacher continued bobbing and weaving, but refused to answer the question, about the Role of Science in Society -- instead he'd rather we all go to Mars, and leave the world, to his party of Earth Exploiters, I guess.

Afterall plants breath in CO2, don't they, so it can't be that bad, can it? (My scinece teacher told me so!)


Climate Denial Crock of the Week - Mars Attacks!!
video clip:

many thanks to greenman3610 for his "Climate Denial Crock(s) of the Week!" series.

by jamess on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 09:33:05 AM EST
Prolly not their last strawman...
by asdf on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 10:12:49 AM EST
Regarding the evolution of Solar Activity during past years, it is indeed awkward to relate a possible warming in Mars with it.

Another important note to make is that the theory  closer to draw a link between Solar Activity and the Earth's climate, Cosmoclimatology, is founded on  galactic cosmic ray effects on cloud formation. Now, clouds is something Mars doesn't have...


by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 10:36:06 AM EST
Mars does have clouds (IIRC both H2O and CO2 ice clouds), they are just not as important for climate as on the Earth.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:36:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, you see lots of clouds (most of it morning mist) on the photo in the diary.

Then again, Mars doesn't have a bipolar magnetic field, so solar magnetic activity changes cosmic ray influx only locally and in minor ways.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:48:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and in Mars's case, I guess the fluctuation of solar radiation they mean is not the miniscule variation in the Sun'S luminosity, but the effect of distance: the eccentricity of Mars's orbit not being negligible.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:39:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Comparisons like those are wearisome from the get-go. It's comparing apples with oranges. I'm glad that "It's the dust, stupids!" seems a reliable answer, and also one that is easy to grasp - because not unimportant effects from obliquity/eccentricity/precession cycles are a bit harder to explain for a general audience...

Caveat! I've no idea if precession/obliquity/etc cycles are actually favouring a larger albedo on Mars at the moment... Just underlining that comparing Earth one-on-one with any other planet in our solar system is pretty baseless.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:10:08 AM EST
Comparing climate change on Mars to that on Earth in the context of Earth's current warm up is just lame. I don't understand why anyone with half a brain is even giving the argument air time. The fact that several US congressmen are discussing it is better evidence of either their total lack of understanding of science or paid political advertising on behalf of the fossil fuel industry.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 12:10:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat May 30th, 2009 at 02:21:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Climate Change Deniers use Mars as latest Strawman
Here's Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) in a hearing last month: "Apparently, Mars, too, is afflicted with global warming.
Are they out of their mind?

At least if he had said Venus...

But, as we know, Republicans are from Mars, Democrats from Venus...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buitler

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:25:39 AM EST
Well, Mars is affected by seasonal changes in global warming, due to the evaporation and freezing of CO2 ice.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 06:33:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Republicans are from hell. Democrats are from Disneyland.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 07:56:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You should make that a diary :-) ...and you should try to post it at dKos :-D

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 22nd, 2009 at 01:39:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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