fred_thompson.jpgHe’s running for president now, so let’s revisit Fred Thompson’s climate change confusion. He took some standard denier myths and threw in a dash of his own unwarranted sarcasm to create this mishmash on the Paul Harvey radio show:

Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. Now scientists are telling us that Mars is experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto.

NASA says the Martian South Pole’s “ice cap” has been shrinking for three summers in a row. Maybe Mars got its fever from earth. If so, I guess Jupiter’s caught the same cold, because it’s warming up too, like Pluto.

This has led some people, not necessarily scientists, to wonder if Mars and Jupiter, non signatories to the Kyoto Treaty, are actually inhabited by alien SUV-driving industrialists who run their air-conditioning at 60 degrees and refuse to recycle.

Silly, I know, but I wonder what all those planets, dwarf planets and moons in our SOLAR system have in common. Hmmmm. SOLAR system. Hmmmm. Solar? I wonder. Nah, I guess we shouldn’t even be talking about this. The science is absolutely decided. There’s a consensus.

Ask Galileo.

I thought Thompson was a member of the Churches of Christ, not a heliolater or perhaps a Druid. I have previously debunked this bit of denier disinformation and will expand on the key facts below — especially his misguided sun worship.

What is saddest to me — besides the possibility he might actually become president — is the ease with which this otherwise intelligent man believes the entire scientific community somehow failed to examine the contribution of the sun to recent global warming.

His Law and Order alter ego, D.A. Arthur Branch, would not be so easily duped. He would demand evidence. Here it is:

Mars does appear to be experiencing short-term regional warming, not long-term global warming, as the climate scientists of RealClimate have explained.

Jupiter is not experiencing global warming, but it is poised to experience regional climate change, “getting warmer near the equator and cooler at the poles,” as a U.C. Berkeley scientist noted last year.

As for Pluto, an MIT article explains, “Pluto’s orbit is much more elliptical than that of the other planets, and its rotational axis is tipped by a large angle relative to its orbit. Both factors could contribute to drastic seasonal changes.” One of the scientists involved in the research explained, Pluto’s warming was “likely not connected with that of the Earth. The major way they could be connected is if the warming was caused by a large increase in sunlight. But the solar constant — the amount of sunlight received each second — is carefully monitored by spacecraft, and we know the sun’s output is much too steady to be changing the temperature of Pluto” — or of the Earth, for that matter. “The sunspot record and neutron monitor data,” as explains, “show that solar activity has not increased since the 1950s and is therefore unlikely to be able to explain the recent warming.”

This last point is key. The causal link between the Earth’s warming and the alleged warming of other planets would have to be solar activity. But a recent study has shown that solar activity, including cosmic rays, are not responsible for recent planetary warming. The study concluded:

Here we show that over the past 20 years, all the trends in the Sun that could have had an influence on the Earth’s climate have been in the opposite direction to that required to explain the observed rise in global mean temperatures.

Want more facts? A new debunking website, Skeptical Science, has a nice post on this. They explain that, “The study most quoted by skeptics actually concluded the sun can’t be causing global warming.” D’oh!

And they list a bunch of other studies dismissing or minimizing the sun’s contribution:

  • Foukal 2006: concludes “The variations measured from spacecraft since 1978 are too small to have contributed appreciably to accelerated global warming over the past 30 years.”
  • Usoskin 2005: concludes “during these last 30 years the solar total irradiance, solar UV irradiance and cosmic ray flux has not shown any significant secular trend, so that at least this most recent warming episode must have another source.”
  • Stott 2003: increased climate model sensitivity to solar forcing and still found “most warming over the last 50 yr is likely to have been caused by increases in greenhouse gases.”
  • Solanki 2003: concludes “the Sun has contributed less than 30% of the global warming since 1970.”
  • Lean 1999: concludes “it is unlikely that Sun-climate relationships can account for much of the warming since 1970.”
  • Waple 1999: finds “little evidence to suggest that changes in irradiance are having a large impact on the current warming trend.”
  • Frolich 1998: concludes “solar radiative output trends contributed little of the 0.2°C increase in the global mean surface temperature in the past decade.”

Only a pagan would continue to worship at the altar of the sun-explains-everything religion.

This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.