Jeb Bush on global warming–conservative thought or lack of thought?

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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


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  1. Fil Line  June 3, 2015

    Jack – You’re avoiding the recognition of many highly qualified scientists who do not agree with the “decided science” crowd. You should research the other side of the arguments. NASA isn’t the only authority out there and maybe not even the best one concerning climate science. I wish I had saved all those solid articles that I have read on the other side of the issue so I could quote them to you, but they are out there.

    •  June 3, 2015

      I suppose there are scientists who disagree with the idea that man has a substantial role in global warming, but I sense that the majority side with NASA. The NASA link I provided leads to a long list of scientific groups that point to man when it comes to causation.

  2. Carl  June 3, 2015

    Jack – You make some excellent points, but limit the discussion as to who is in a better position to make scientific determination, the scientist, the group of scientist or the non-scientist. I place cautious trust in the scientific community. Examples of problems with the publication of scientific data regarding “global warming” are plentiful, not to mention “data creation” to fit conclusions from many “peer reviewed” covering multiple subjects.

    The longer I live (particularly in my profession) the more I realize how terrible we are about predicting future outcomes. Landing a man on the moon or the recent developments in the biosciences would be minor achievements compared to knowing with certainty the cause and effect of anything twenty years to the future. We do not have to look far to see humankinds miserable track record of turning present day facts into a future reality.

    Unable to know the facts but reaching back to high school debates on subjects far less important I would offer that the “conservative” stance of denying the scientific communities findings on cause and effect of global warming is only as dishonest as the “liberal” stance of accepting the same. The dishonesty on both sides comes from an unwillingness to simply say “I don’t know.” What we look for from leaders is the willingness to say “I don’t know, but this is what we need to do.” Instead the American public takes 30 second sound bites that are shoved down their throats as fact, gets made, listens to promises about fixing some of the least important things that are offered, in a cloud of dust, to hide the real problems.

  3. John C. Calhoun  June 3, 2015

    Sir: I am not sure about the effects of pollution on the weather changes that we are recording with more accuracy now than in the past. No doubt the concrete, asphalt, and retrenchment of our forests and fields are huge source of retaining heat in many new areas’ each and every day. Population expansion means pollution expansion. But who are we to decide who should have how many progeny? Is it in and of itself in the Almighty’s grand design of “natural selection” just as much the great flood in biblical times? I do believe God’s hand is in scientific discovery. I agree with you that now is the time we become better scientists.

    PS I wonder where the ozone depletion hole in the southern stratosphere went. Hmmm

  4. Bob Wiseman  June 3, 2015

    On many issues of the day it’s hard to separate politics and science. Many liberals who believe climate change is settled science, don’t immunize their children, nor do they consume genetically modified organisms. Like you said, it’s a little arrogant to argue with what the scientific community has concluded.

  5. jay  June 5, 2015

    I have a love/hate relationship with the argument over the causal factors of global warming, ice melting, and oceans rising. I love it in that it is being discussed and (hopefully) becoming a real political issue. I hate it because so many involved want to line up on argumentative positions based (my opinion) on their core beliefs. Typically those in the Republican camp tend to argue against the concept that mankind could possibly screw something as large as a world environment up, and just as typical Democrats line up on the other end, along with government’s role and responsibility to ‘fix’ it. So the argument gets stalled along these various ‘fronts’ of one scientific view versus another, then down the line to who is responsible for making it so, who’s responsible for fixing it, and at what cost, and on and on down this seemingly endless battlefield. It makes me want to coin a new phrase like, “schoolyard antics”. People on both sides of the issue are admiring the problem- nott addressing it.

    Jack is right in that this is, or should not be, a conservative versus liberal issue. Let’s not forget it was a Republican president who initiated the creation of a National Park Service, and about 50 or 60 years later, a Republican president who created the Environmental Protection Agency. SURELY, those gentlemen thought those steps were necessary for SOME reason. One would not create millions of acres of parks, and then another create an entire arm of government to deal with pollution, if said persons didn’t think there was a reason to do so.

    How about we do this? How about we agree that its a pretty shitty idea to make the air we breathe, less breathable? How about we agree that water is a pretty nice invention, and that we ought to consider how we are using and conserving it? How about we agree that everything we eat, make, consume, use and throw away, originated at some point, in the earth? How about we agree that the American Indians (amongst others) had a pretty good idea to take care of “mother earth’ ? What in the world could possibly be wrong with taking care of the only vessel we have to carry us and our heirs forward?

    All of us want to go to heaven, but few of us want to die to get there. We cannot have our cake and eat it too. If we could figure out how to get to the moon in less than a decade, then we can figure this one out too. Let’s get this off the political issue and make it a human one. Cause in the end, it will not matter how much money you saved or how many jobs you created, or how many arguments you won, if you cannot breath or find the water to drink.

  6. Matt Schaeffer  June 8, 2015

    It’s an important issues, Jack, but I think that you’re being a little hard on Jeb Bush. “If NASA has concluded that ‘most of it is very likely human-induced,’ the discussion on causation should end there.” When the government says that “these are the facts, end of discussion,” then I think that there might be more to be discussed. For example, on January 27, 1986, several engineers warned NASA that the cold weather might lead to a critical failure in the Challenger’s O-rings and they recommended a delay. NASA staff’s response included: “I am appalled by your recommendation” and “My God, when do you want me to launch — next April?” The recommendation was therefore withdrawn, and Challenger exploded on lift-off the following day–killing seven astronauts.

    Scientists and government agencies are susceptible to political pressure, greed, fear, and vanity just like everyone else. Even NASA’s statement–‘most of it is very likely human-induced’–sounds like it was written by a lawyer [they’re scientists–please tell us how much and how likely!]. I have no problem with Jeb Bush or anyone else calling for more study into global warming. We ought to be good stewards to the environment, and the question of what percentage of our resources we allocate to global warming and other issues cannot be appropriately addressed if we decide to end the conversation.

    • miriam rafferty  June 9, 2015

      I agree that the reason for the controversy is because not all scientists agree on the cause of global warming and also there is evidence that these warming and cooling trends have occurred for thousands of years.. My daughter did some research on this and one website that talks about this is

      I also agree that NASA is not the last word on this subject. As Matt has reiterated, the Challenger was sent up because the government felt pressured due to cost etc even though an independent engineers warned them that it was too cold and that the rocket could explode. There is a movie and book about this. Truth, Lies and O-rings…(another research project done by one of my daughters for National History Day last year.)
      I don’t think Jeb Bush is going out of his way to make such a statement to win votes or for any personal means. I think he is trying to set an example to not rush into a final conclusion with a subject that still needs to be researched and talked about critically. That’s what conservative are supposed to do!:)
      I do believe that we abuse our planet and that we should do whatever is necessary to protect it without going overboard. I certainly don’t want my government to dictate what lightbulb I am to buy.


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