One has to hand it to Bill Maher, the tawdry rant artist whose long-running HBO show has provided endless material for conservative pundits to flog the left with, anything that comes out of his mouth can be counted to be outrageous, profanity-laced, and factually challenged. Such was his recent assault against Mars colonization, spewed out to the half-enthusiastic braying of his trained seal audience.

Maher’s point that Mars is inhospitable is somewhat specious and a straw man argument since he doesn’t seem to be aware of the concept of terraforming or even throwing up domes to maintain an Earth-like environment.

The attraction of going to Mars is that not that it is currently a paradise planet, though with human ingenuity it can become one. The attraction is the challenge of remaking the Red Planet and of forming a new society 100 million miles away from the old one, with all of its flaws, including the one that gives Maher a platform for spewing hate-filled rants. Getting away from people like that makes Mars attractive.

Maher also staggers into fascism by telling private people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos what to do with their own money. He seemed to suggest that he would forbid private people to spend their cash on projects he doesn’t approve of and would only permit investments that, in his judgment, is of benefit to the Earth.

Which gets us to the core of Maher’s ire about going to Mars. It’s about climate change. If we go to Mars at the cost of $450 billion (it won’t cost that much), then we will all die from climate change (we won’t.) The theory of global warming has been trotted out to support a great deal of unwise policy, such as prohibiting all fossil fuels.

Maher is using it to shut down space exploration, even the private kind, to keep humanity trapped on Earth forever. In a way, under a regime favored by the HBO comedian, Earth would become a planetary East Germany, a tyrannical hell from where people are forbidden to leave.

While lots of arguments exist for going back to the moon and the asteroids (great mineral wealth) before going to Mars, climate change is not one of them.

Even if global warming were really a pressing challenge, humans can walk and chew gum at the same time, address the problem and go to Mars at the same time. Indeed, some technology could be developed that would be of some use to both ideas, fusion energy for example.

In any case, Bill Maher is not in a position to be handing down edicts about science. He is a virulent opponent of vaccinations. Indeed, his shtick is a rather old one. Walter Mondale, the tired old liberal, was using it on the Senate floor 45 years ago to get the country to not build a space station or continue going to the moon. The difference is that Mondale focused on poverty and not global warming (not in fashion in 1972) and the only obscenity in his speeches were his ideas and not his language.

Enjoy Maher’s rant in the video provided. Be warned that it is definitely not safe for work.