Bush Warns Against 'Intellectual Arrogance' on Whether World Is Warming


In February, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) took to the Senate floor, pulled a snowball out of a plastic bag and threw it to a congressional aide. He explained that the snowball, along with the freezing temperatures in Washington, D.C., that month, served as irrefutable proof that all the worry about global warming was alarmism. The act wasn't an embarrassing stunt for his party, but rather a faithful expression of its values.   

During a talk on Wednesday, Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush didn't go so far as to endorse Inhofe's brazen contempt for climate science, but he was reluctant to wander far from his party's allegiance to denying the causes and implications of the world's unprecedented warming.

What he said: At a business roundtable discussion in New Hampshire, Bush employed language of thoughtful agnosticism to shield himself from the charge of full-fledged denial, but managed to maintain an air of skepticism. 

"The climate is changing. I don't think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It's convoluted," Bush said, according to the Washington Post. "And for the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you. It's this intellectual arrogance that now you can't have a conversation about it even."

The former Florida governor also described the need for the Republicans to address climate change, even if it wasn't of grave importance.

"I don't think it's the highest priority," Bush said about the topic of climate change, as reported by the Washington Post. "I don't think we should ignore it, either. Generally, I think as conservatives we should embrace innovation, embrace technology, embrace science. It's the source of a lot more solutions than any government-imposed idea, and sometimes I sense that we pull back from the embrace of these things. We shouldn't. We're the party that should be the party of discovery, the party of science, the party of innovation and tear down the barriers so that those things can accelerate in our lives to find solutions for all these things."

Why it matters: This is an extraordinary set of remarks by Bush. He's saying that the GOP should be the party of science, but he says it at the same time as he attempts to make a mockery of the scientific community: If 97% of climate scientists agree that man-made global warming is happening, then declaring it up in the air would make you arrogant, not the experts who have painstakingly made the case for why it is. 

But that disinterest in taking scientific research seriously is very much in line with a party that has a storied history of giddily taking an axe to funding for scientific research.