Jeb Bush speaks to us about climate change. Is he a denier?

Summary:  American political campaigns are the longest and most expensive in the world, but consist largely of both sides kicking sand into our eyes. The result leaves us less informed and more divided, and gives the victor no mandate. Campaign 2016 has begun. The reaction to Jeb Bush’s remarks about climate shows that we’ve learned nothing from the spectacle of past campaigns.

Jeb Bush logo


  1. Jeb Bush talks about the climate. The Left smears.
  2. What do climate scientists say?
  3. What does the American public say?
  4. Do we need more innovation?
  5. For More Information.

See tomorrow’s post, where eminent climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr. answering your questions about climate models.

(1) Jeb Bush talks about the climate. The Left smears.

The Left warms up for the 2016 election with smears to arouse the dwindling faithful…

Two stories are the most often cited to support these statements. Neither remotely justifies them. First there is this…

“It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade. What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can’t have a view.” {Fox News, August 2011}

And this, more recently…

“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. 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.”

Bush said that climate change should be just “part of, a small part of prioritization of our foreign policy.” He suggested that the United States should encourage countries that have higher carbon emissions rates to reduce them. “We’ve had a pretty significant decrease and we’ll continue on, not because of Barack Obama, but because of the energy revolution.” He credited hydraulic fracking, horizontal drilling and an increased use of natural gas for helping cut American carbon emissions.

“I don’t think it’s the highest priority” he said of climate change, “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.”   {Washington Post, May 2015}


(2) What do climate scientists say?

Let’s first check with the IPCC, the gold standard of the climate science consensus (none of these articles mention the IPCC). Bush’s statement is consistent with …

“It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”
— From the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I report.

There is a large body of research confirming that this is the opinion of most climate scientists. It’s the origin of the “97% of scientists agree” meme. The relevant chapter, 10.3, draws no conclusions (not even with low confidence) as to how much of the warming is attributed to “human-induced” factors

Bush is also correct that many activists falsely say that “science has decided” most of the big questions about climate change. There is little evidence that a majority of climate scientists believe that almost all of the warming is anthropogenic, agree on the magnitude of future warming, or that future warming has had or will have catastrophic effects (the IPCC assigns most statements about these low or medium confidence). Nobody except the crazy fringe says “the science is decided.”

The hostile reaction of the Left to Jeb Bush’s statements is yet another demonstration of their determination to shut down any “conversation” about these matters.

Public Opinion Poll

(3)  What does the American public say about climate change?

Bush said that climate change should be just “part of, a small part of prioritization of our foreign policy” and that “I don’t think it’s the highest priority”. Most Americans agree, ranking climate change low among US public policy priorities (see the polls here, and more here). The tactics of the Left, as seen here, play a big role in this.

Ideas faucet

(4) Do we need more innovation?

“Generally, I think as conservatives we should embrace innovation, embrace technology, embrace science.”

Many experts in energy and energy economics are skeptical about the ability of our current technology to replace carbon-burning sources (even coal, which is only slightly better than burning dung). I agree, and have long said that we should begin a well-funded conversion to non-carbon-based energy sources to be completed by the second half of the 21st century. It’s worth doing for both environmental and economic reasons (see these posts for details).

The Left’s frequent refusal to talk with the Right about common ground in climate policy (as seen in their reaction to Jeb Bush’s comments) has paralyzed public policy to prepare not just for occurrence of past extreme weather, but for future climate change. This mirrors the Right’s decision to oppose whatever Obama proposes (excerpt where he continues and expands Bush Jr.’s policies).

Perhaps the best starting point for both sides would be respect for science, allying against those on both sides who prefer to use science — adopting it when useful, ignoring it otherwise (as the Left does with the IPCC).

Truth Will Make You Free

For More Information

To learn more about the state of climate change see The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change by Roger Pielke Jr. (Prof of Environmental Studies at U of CO-Boulder, and Director of their Center for Science and Technology Policy Research).

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see The keys to understanding climate change and My posts about climate change. Also see all posts about Campaign 2016, especially these…

  1. Hillary runs as a populist because we’re easily fooled. Will we prove her wrong?
  2. Obama screwed the Left in 2008. They’re eager for Hillary to do it in 2016.
  3. Hillary is all but anointed as the nominee, but unpopular. It’s how the system runs without us.
  4. Dueling remarks about the Pope & the climate from Rush & Jeb! We can learn from both.



9 thoughts on “Jeb Bush speaks to us about climate change. Is he a denier?”

  1. Pingback: Jeb Bush speaks to us about climate change. Is he a denier? | The Fabius Maximus website | Inside Environment

    1. John,

      I cannot imagine why anyone would consider market forces — responding to present day supply and demand — sufficient to steer society on a long-term course. As a large body of research shows, development and rollout of new energy sources takes a generation — even on a crash basis. That’s like driving a car by relying on the bumpers to determine the seriousness of hazards that lie ahead.

      Certainly the development of solar power in the US is the opposite of relying on market forces. Much of its initial R&D fed by government funding, and its rollout by a wide range of lavish government subsidies.

  2. The development of all energy in the U. S. is subsidized. Accelerated depreciation, and depletion allowances have favored oil and gas drilling. Nuclear has benefited from billions of federal investment. What MAY be different with solar is that it appears to be benefiting from something like Moore’s Law driving down costs. The resource is free so if the capital cost gets low enough solar could replace a high percentage of fossil fuels. That makes it different from all the other renewables.

    1. John,

      That is way too binary to be useful. A large fraction of business activity in the US has some degree of subsidy, so statements like yours tell us nothing. Magnitudes matter.

      Solar has a level of subsidies dwarfing other sources — especially coal, which is lightly subsidized.

  3. Agreed on coal. Subsidy dollars for oil and gas swamp solar, but are certainly smaller in relation to total activity. The real question is whether the subsidies have sparked continuous cost reductions. If they have you will eventually see exponential growth without subsidy.

  4. Pingback: Latest Summary Of Climate Change News - EcoGreenable

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