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March 02, 2007
GLOBAL WARMING -- on Mars? National Geographic reports:
Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet's recent climate changes have a natural—and not a human- induced—cause, according to one scientist's controversial theory.
Earth is currently experiencing rapid warming, which the vast majority of climate scientists says is due to humans pumping huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Mars, too, appears to be enjoying more mild and balmy temperatures.
In 2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mars's south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row.
Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun.
"The long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars," he said. Abdussamatov believes that changes in the sun's heat output can account for almost all the climate changes we see on both planets.
Right or not, this doesn't matter to me -- as I've noted before, I think we should be trying to minimize our burning of fossil fuels for lots of other reasons. But it does suggest that people should be wary of getting too far ahead of the science. And if this explanation turns out to be correct, overselling global warming could lead to a backlash in which efforts to reduce pollution lose credibility, which would be bad as we should be reducing pollution regardless of global warming.
UPDATE: Martian warming explained.