About two weeks ago, former Gov. Jeb Bush joined the ranks of those who argue about established science. Commenting on man’s impact on climate change, he had this to say: “I don’t think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you. It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”
I think it’s arrogant for a lay person to argue with what the scientific community has concluded. How is any lay person qualified to debate man’s impact on global warming? If NASA has concluded that “most of it is very likely human-induced,” the discussion on causation should end there. The only thing we should be arguing is how fast we need to respond and in what manner.
Some might say Bush’s view is emblematic of how conservatives in general view environmental issues. It’s hard to define what conservatism is. Some might say it is a preference for traditional values and free markets and a disdain for government control. However you define it, let’s not confuse conservative thought with a lack of thought, and when he denies scientific conclusions, Bush is displaying a lack of thought.
But Bush is more concerned about getting votes. Trying to debunk science as a means of avoiding significant changes to our economy is a message that sells. The energy and manufacturing industries don’t want to hear about reducing greenhouse gases. That takes time and money.
Plenty of other politicians advocate the same position Bush does, but it’s dishonest, and it promotes flawed thinking, which is irresponsible. Leaders confront—not run away from—hard facts and decide the best way to respond.
It would be more honest to acknowledge what scientists have concluded and argue that economics warrant a slower response than, let’s say, than what environmental activists advocate. Bush can’t do that because it doesn’t make sense—it sounds stupid—to acknowledge a problem but not advocate an aggressive remedy.
Stuck with a Hobson’s choice, Bush and others choose to argue with the science. I suppose it’s hard to be honest in politics. Robert F. Kennedy said it well, “Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their peers, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.”
To characterize as conservative thinkers those who balk at the idea that man has made a substantial contribution to global warming is to give conservatives a bad name.
Jack D’Aurora writes for considerthisbyjd.com
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