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Skeptical Jeb Bush calls for climate ‘debate’ in New Hampshire

SALEM, New Hampshire – A day after complaining of “intellectual arrogance” behind the assumption that climate science is settled, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told msnbc he was upset that Americans with differing views on the issue were treated like “Neanderthals.” He did not say which voices had informed his own opinions on the matter, however. 

“My views are the idea that science has established what percentage of climate change is human derived and what is natural is not finished, it’s not determined,” Bush said after a meet and greet at an Italian restaurant here, adding that there were “diverse views on these things, particularly as it relates to the influence of man on the subject.” 

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Asked by msnbc to identify any experts, consultants or reports that had influenced his current position on the issue, Bush declined to offer specifics.

“No consulting yet, because I’m not at that stage, but I’ve read a lot about a lot of people that have differing views,” he said. “I think we should have a hearty debate about this, not because I deny that climate change doesn’t exist, but I think in order to establish the right policies that don’t destroy our economy we should have a debate about what impact we can have on improving the situation.”

The broad consensus in the science community, including NASA and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is that human activity is principally responsible for warming temperatures and other climate effects and that the effects are potentially serious absent major reductions in carbon emissions.

Bush’s position on climate change is nuanced so far. On the one hand, he has said carbon emissions may be behind climate change and has even said the U.S. should negotiate with foreign governments to reduce them. But he has also said such agreements would not be the “highest priority” in his foreign policy agenda, harshly criticized President Obama’s environmental regulations aimed at addressing emissions and suggested in New Hampshire that the private sector could handle much of the problem, citing the last decade’s boom in natural gas production that burns cleaner than fossil fuels.  

“Clearly there is some [human] influence, we’re living on a planet and we kind of dominate the planet, man made climate change is part of this, but there’s also natural changes,” Bush said. “So why do we have to have a debate where people that may have some doubts about this are considered Neanderthals? That’s the arrogance. It’s the arrogance of saying people that have a different well-thought-out view somehow aren’t as intelligent or aren’t as capable.”

Climate Change and Jeb Bush

Skeptical Jeb Bush calls for climate 'debate' in New Hampshire