Jeb Bush on Climate Change: What Do We Really Want Politicians to Debate?

, former science communication officer | May 21, 2015, 3:35 pm EDT
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Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) described the certainty of scientific knowledge on climate change as “convoluted” yesterday. Specifically, he said that it’s unclear “what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural.”

He also claimed that people who say the science is “decided on” are “arrogant.” At the same time, he said “The climate is changing, and we need to adapt to that reality.”

Jeb Bush sits down with the Daily Signal and discusses climate change.

Jeb Bush sits down with the Daily Signal and discusses climate change.

He shared a very similar message in Iowa with the Daily Signal, which published a video of their interview with Bush earlier today. He added that he wants to forge “a consensus on a common sense approach” for dealing with climate change.

In April, Bush stuck a bit more to energy policy when speaking about climate change and also told an audience that “we need to work with the rest of the world to negotiate a way to reduce carbon emissions.”

So what does the science say on the specific point Gov. Bush raised? And what do we really want candidates for the country’s highest office to debate?

Uncertainty doesn’t mean a lack of urgency (on climate or anything else)

Scientific reports make it clear that burning coal and oil and destroying tropical forests is responsible for the majority of observed planetary warming over the past several decades. When we look at the scientific literature, 97 percent of relevant papers either explicitly or implicitly endorse the evidence that such activities are causing recent climate change.

Overall, scientists are as certain that industrial activities are causing climate change as they are that smoking causes lung disease.

More specifically, scientists have robust estimates of how much heat different types of emissions are trapping in our atmosphere. And if we dig a bit deeper, my colleague Brenda Ekwurzel explains, we see that much of the scientific uncertainty related to planetary warming rests on industrial emissions other than carbon dioxide, namely aerosols, short-lived sunlight-reflecting particles that are also released when we burn fossil fuels, as well as ocean cycles that create short-term climate variability, too.

But here’s the thing: heat-trapping carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for generations. So arguing about whether industrial emissions are responsible for 62.6%, 73.8% or 98.2% of warming so far isn’t a terribly productive exercise for policymakers.

When scientists look forward instead of backward, it’s clear that the percentage of warming that can be attributed to industrial activities will keep increasing if we burn more fossil fuels. Indeed, a world of greater certainty on this narrow question is also one in which we have already locked in more warming. What will we say then? That we finally have enough certainty to know it’s too late?

Future scenarios for climate change

Lower vs. higher emissions. Climate risks run from “bad to very bad” as my colleague Jason Funk put it. While there are some uncertainties related to how bad it might get, the risks of sea level rise, extreme heat, and disruptions to rainfall patterns are much higher on a planet that warms an additional 8 degrees versus one that warms another 2 degrees. These are the stakes of the debate. Source: National Climate Assessment / Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Bigger picture, any scientific topic can be picked apart publicly by focusing on the nitty-gritty details. There is no such thing as perfect knowledge in science. Nor, I’d argue, is there perfect knowledge in foreign policy, public health, economics, or any other topic with which a policymaker has to make decisions, but it’s much rarer to hear them use uncertainty in those fields to justify inaction.

The bottom line is this: scientists know enough to be able to identify concrete climate risks. We should expect policymakers to figure out how to respond to them, not second-guess the science.

Arrogance versus anti-science is not a productive debate

It’s no secret the public attitudes toward climate science are politicized. Most Democrats accept basic climate science while about half of Republican and Republican-leaning citizens feel the same way.

But in the realm of national politics, the debate has often devolved into some Democrats admonishing Republicans for being anti-science and some Republicans claiming that Democrats are trying to bully them on the science. That is probably the source of Gov. Bush’s gripe about “arrogance” in the climate debate. Interestingly, Bush cautioned against this dynamic two years ago, when he told the Conservative Political Action Conference that Republicans shouldn’t hazard being perceived as “anti-science.”

I can’t think of any scientist who wants politicians to argue about their work, whether it’s Ebola, vaccines, evolution, or climate change. They’d much prefer politicians to view their research as one of many policymaking tools instead of yet another partisan cudgel.

University of New Hampshire climate researcher Cameron Wake put it well in a recent interview about potential presidential candidates weighing in on his field of expertise. He said we need to differentiate between the science – which lays out significant risks for society – and policy, which we can make based on ideology, values, economics, public and private interests, politics, or other factors. Indeed, it would be arrogant to assume that any one policymaker, party, or interest group has a monopoly on what the correct policies are to deal with climate change.

The good news is that there are, in fact, many diverse ideological approaches for dealing with climate change, including among conservatives:

  • Libertarian Jerry Taylor has pointed out that things like sea level rise threaten property rights and could therefore justify government policies designed to reduce emissions and deal with climate damage.
  • Groups like the R Street Institute are working on integrating climate science into federal flood insurance reform to prevent future costly taxpayer bailouts.
  • Former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) and the group RepublicEn are promoting a suite of policies, including ending energy subsidies and instituting a carbon tax swap to reduce payroll and corporate taxes.

Forging a consensus on climate should involve these ideas, too. They are worthy of debate on a national stage.

Debating risks and policy instead of reality

Bush noted that we need to adapt to the reality of a changing climate. Local leaders in Florida would probably agree. They have already come together to help one another prepare for rising seas. It’s also worth noting that there is some uncertainty when it comes to how fast the seas will rise; this has not prevented Floridians from making reasonable determinations about what degree of sea-level rise they want to prepare for.

Sunny-day flooding in Florida, where policymakers are already grappling with climate change, including Rep. Carlso Curbelo (R), who represents the southern-most portion of the state.

Coastal flooding is becoming a bigger and bigger problem in Florida as sea levels rise. Policymakers there are already grappling with climate change, including Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R), who represents the southernmost portion of the state.

It would be great to know what role aspiring national leaders think the federal government has in supporting such local efforts.

I hope the candidates will talk more about their vision for dealing with the climate risks we face. And I hope voters and journalists will ask them questions that focus the debate on how to respond. That’s the debate we need – not another round of politicized arguments over established scientific facts.

Posted in: Global Warming, Science and Democracy, Science Communication Tags: , , , ,

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  • Gail Tucker-Griffith

    Here in Miami, Florida we are have numerous specific examples of the impact of rising coastal waters on our city. In 2010 our condominium engaged an engineer to conduct a 30 year review of our sea wall as we prepared for needed restoration and repair work. In reviewing a previous engineer’s analysis from the 1980’s he found that the average height of the water around our sea wall had gone up significantly. The evidence was clear from the marine flora and fauna growing on the wall. The line of flora and fauna was higher than in earlier photographs and consistent with ongoing sea level rise. This year, for the first time in my memory (since 1979) the high high tides here have occasionally reached the cap on our sea wall. What people fail to understand is that melting floating ice (icebergs) is NOT the problem, rather that it is glacial melting that is adding volume to our oceans. It is a fine distinction but one that IS demonstrable. For our current and past governors to be so blinded by the rhetoric of their party puts all of us in danger.
    To engender public support though we also must acknowledge that the high tide and seasonal flooding from rain on Miami BEACH is exacerbated by erosion and salt water intrusion into spaces in the spoil island coral rocks that make up the islands there. Efforts must be made to fill these voids in some fashion. Miami Beach is after all a series of man-made islands created from the coral rock debris dug out on the mainland to place pilings that supported the city’s early development. The ocean is doing what it does on every coast and eroding and flowing into the spaces that have developed over 100 years, and thus future enrichment costs need to include not just their beaches but also filling in the voids that underlie the City’s streets and structures. So yes, in a sense Mr. Bush is correct in that there is a web of issues that intertwine with the impact of climate change. And as implied in UCS statements…we use preventative medicine for many human-caused diseases, education, behavioral modification and the like…preventative measures to counteract and slow and defeat human-caused climate change is equally important today.

    • Gail, thank you so much for your comment. I’ve only been to Miami once myself and was impressed with the scientists I met there as well as local groups like the CLEO Institute. It’s daunting for the city to be on the front lines of coastal flooding and sea-level rise, but one of the things I also heard from people who work there is that it’s an opportunity for the region to lead and demonstrate what works to the rest of the country.

  • p-ray smith

    I tend to agree with Jeb Bush on this argument, at least to some degree. Climate Change is real, that is undeniable. However, I also agree that it is undefinable at the moment as to what part is truly caused by man. This is not to say that something should not be done. Climate change does need to be taken seriously (something that many conservatives don’t want to hear), but it should NOT lead to some radical policy change.
    This issue is charged with a number of other issues beyond mere climate change, and so any hasty action is unwise, on either side. What are some practical, non-radical changes that can be made? I don’t know for sure. I am not a complete expert here. But if someone is suggesting that the government start regulating that I can no longer drive a fossil-fuel burning car or that all electricity production must be from “clean, alternative” sources, then they are clearly not in line with the ideals that America and her Constitution promotes and is supposed to guarantee.
    In addition, this whole idea of “anti-science” politicians and conservatives is a little on the ridiculous side. I certainly am not anti-science, but I also am wary of unbalanced views that are just as ideologically driven as some of the conservatives views. Have you ever stopped to consider, dear liberal, “scientific, reader, that your own position is as biased as my own?

  • Robert Gehl

    ∎∎∎∎∎∎✈✈✈✈✈Take Easy with ucsusa < my buddy's step-mother makes $74 hourly on the computer . She has been without a job for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $14216 just working on the computer for a few hours.

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  • To try to stop Global Warming we started to make movies about Global warming and Climate Change.

    We are filmmakers and can’t say directly to the audience what they need to do in non documentary film.

    But our small effort or contribution in stopping Global warming can help if we all move forward.

  • raw915

    “Republican views on abortion are rooted firmly in the belief that an unborn child, like any individual in this country, has an individual right to life that should not be infringed upon by others. The party adamantly believes that the rights guaranteed to all Americans in the Fourteenth Amendment apply to unborn children as well….”

    http://www.republicanviews.org/republican-views-on-abortion/

    Yet Republicans are infringing on the right to life of untold generations of unborn children by ignoring
    “Runaway Global Warming—A Climate Catastrophe in the Making. Runaway global warming is the accelerating (and soon to be unstoppable) chain reaction caused by release of the Arctic’s vast stores of the very potent greenhouse gas (GHG), methane. The Arctic methane is released as the result of global warming heating the Arctic. That is called a positive carbon feedback.”

    http://www.zero-carbon-or-climate-catastrophe.org/runaway-heating.html

    Runaway global warming will make increasing percentages of the earth’s surface uninhabitable. “The research shows that humans and most mammals will suffer a likely lethal level of heat stress at wet-bulb temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit if sustained for six hours or more.”

    http://planetsave.com/2010/05/05/future-temperatures-could-exceed-human-liveability/

  • KP KDRAMAS

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  • KP KDRAMAS

    ✬✬✬✬✬✬✬✬✬♫♫Here is more profit with ucsusa < I didn't believe …that…my brother woz like truly making money part time at their computer. . there aunt had bean doing this 4 only seventeen months and resantly paid the dept on there apartment and bourt themselves a Lotus Elise .

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  • mememine

    The last 34 YEARS of climate action failure is 100% proof that the only evidence we need is proof that science is not ALLOWED to be more than 97% certain that THE PLANET IS DOOMED by deadly Human CO2.

    Prove any CO2 scientist ever said it besides you eager “believers”.

    Wanting this misery to have been real was not “progressive” or civilized.

    • zlop

      “DOOMED by deadly Human CO2.”

      Dinosaur CO2 provides proof of extinction.
      Those who live by producing CO2 — die by CO2

      • BRANDON KIRKPATRICK

        ✬✬✬▆✈▆▆✈▆▆✈▆▆Take advice with ucsusa < I didn't believe …that…my brother woz like truly making money part time at their computer. . there aunt had bean doing this 4 only seventeen months and resantly paid the dept on there apartment and bourt themselves a Lotus Elise .

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    • RUSEV RYBACK

      ♥♥♥♡♥♥♡♥♥It’s more Earn money with ucsusa < my buddy's step-mother makes $74 hourly on the computer . She has been without a job for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $14216 just working on the computer for a few hours.
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    • RUSEV RYBACK

      ♥♥♥♡♥♥♡♥♥It’s more Earn money with ucsusa < my buddy's step-mother makes $74 hourly on the computer . She has been without a job for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $14216 just working on the computer for a few hours.
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    • Farron Cousins

      ∎∎∎∎∎∎❉❊❶❷❸It’s very Easy with google and ucsusa < my buddy's step-mother makes $74 hourly on the computer . She has been without a job for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $14216 just working on the computer for a few hours.

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    • Hannah Wallen

      Enjoy holly days ucsusa … kEEP READING

  • Rochesterredwings

    The vast majority of scientists generating AGW data are academics or government employees. In order to get funding they swallow the gov’t kool aid. Therefore most of the data generated in this way has about as much validity for me as an NSA mathematician telling me that even though he’s collecting all sorts of personal information, he isn’t looking at it.

    • I see that claim a lot, but what I never see is evidence that backs it up. Let me know if you come across any.

      • zlop

        To keep the scare alive,
        “NOAA/NASA Dramatically Altered US Temperatures After The Year 2000”

    • zlop

      “scientists generating AGW data” are so skilled in data adjustments,
      that the original data is is lost forever, impossible to recover.

  • Liesbyomission

    Beware of geo engineering….that is spraying aerosols (sulfur compounds)….tifo lower temperature. They haven’t been used yet that we know of.

  • Ben

    I think you’re missing the point here. When Bush says that it’s unclear “what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural”, but also says that “the climate is changing, and we need to adapt to that reality”, he is in fact deliberately adopting an anti-scientific stance for a clear reason: to limit the range of policy options under consideration. He is setting up the background assumptions underlying the debate, to suggest that adaptation to climate change makes sense (only an idiot would deny that, and he is not an idiot), but that acting to actually avoid climate change by radically cutting emissions, getting off of fossil fuels, instituting a carbon tax, etc., does not make sense because, after all, we don’t know that human emissions are really the main problem anyway. This is the latest Republican tactic: admit that climate change is happening, but stonewall on doing anything to prevent it by denying that humans are primarily responsible. I disagree with you that painting that position as “anti-science” is unproductive. The alternative would seem to be to allow them to brand the position as being supported by the science, and that branding cannot be allowed. On the contrary, all scientists need to loudly proclaim that position to be “anti-science”, and point and laugh at the “I’m not a scientist” politicians who adopt it, until they realize it isn’t tenable and give it up. If all we do is “debate risks and policy instead of reality”, that limits the policy discussion to adaptation, not emissions reduction and climate change prevention. That would be playing right into their hands.

    • Thanks. To be clear, I think debating risks encompasses both mitigation and adaptation. And as I tried to point out, both aspects of that debate involve looking at the science and making judgments in the face of uncertainty (just like we do with nearly every other issue of consequence). Regarding anti-science vs. arrogance, I just wanted to point out how broken the dynamic is. Reporters shouldn’t feed into that by repeatedly questioning politicians about science in relatively simplistic ways, for instance: http://blog.ucsusa.org/we-need-sharper-questions-for-a-broken-climate-debate-794. Personally, I think we need a real debate about conservative and liberal policy alternatives for dealing with climate risks. Also, there are politicians who reject any talk of adaptation, too, so they’re all on a bit of a spectrum, at least in my mind.

      • Ben

        *You* think that debating risks encompasses both mitigation and adaptation, but the Republican politicians don’t think that. You say there’s a “bit of a spectrum”, and that is true; on the other hand, is there a single Republican politician who both accepts that climate change is happening and accepts that humans are the predominant cause? I’m not aware of one. So the “spectrum” is really pretty narrow, and everyone on that “spectrum” is anti-science in the sense that they reject clear scientific conclusions for ideological reasons. You say that reporters shouldn’t feed into the “broken dynamic” of questioning politicians about science in relatively simplistic ways; but I would strongly disagree. If candidates are anti-science, that fact should be made crystal clear to voters. That may alienate people on the right, who are themselves anti-science; but that is irrelevant since those people were not reachable anyway. It will win over the swing voters in the middle, most of whom are not anti-science and who would be uncomfortable voting for an anti-science candidate. If reporters soft-pedal this issue, by asking candidates what they would do about the risks rather than what they believe about the *causes*, it only serves to let the anti-science candidates off the hook. When push comes to shove, acceptance of the science is necessary if good policy is to be made. There is no getting around that, and taking an accommodationist stance that pretends there is only plays into the anti-science agenda.

      • Thanks for saying more. Let me state a few more assumptions that may help elucidate my thinking: Most politicians at the national level are already on record regarding their personal opinions on climate science. I’m suggesting that instead of asking them to repeat their positions that journalists also attempt to ask them things they haven’t been asked before. To take an old example, lots of reporters asked Chris Christie whether or not he thought Sandy was “caused by” climate change, a scientific question (and a badly framed one). I would have much preferred that they asked him how much sea-level rise New Jersey should prepare for, which is a substantive policy question grounded in science. Answering “zero” to that question — or a foot or three feet, etc. — would be much more enlightening for citizens, at least in my mind.

        Did you read the link I sent, too? I think Jake Tapper did an excellent job asking FL gubernatorial candidates about climate issue. He informed the audience about what the candidate had already said about the topic and then pushed them to go deeper on it. That’s a public service, in my mind.

        To your other question — off the top of my head, Reps. Chris Gibson and Carlos Curbelo spring to mind as does Sen. Graham.

        This is surprising to a lot of people who follow climate, too: Sen. Inhofe sponsored an EPA climate study to look into the effects of black carbon pollution in Africa, where I believe he’s done a lot of work with religious compatriots: http://www.inhofe.senate.gov/epw-archive/press/carper-inhofe-boxer-and-kerry-introduce-black-carbon-bill

        To take another example, Rep. Steve King of Iowa dismisses climate science but embraces wind power. So perhaps he’d be a rare politician who supports mitigation, but not adaptation. I don’t know. I don’t think anybody’s ever asked him publicly to dive in on that.

        Anyway, this is all to say that I never assume politicians are monolithic on any issue, including climate.

      • Ben

        Thanks for replying, Aaron. I hope you’re finding this discussion useful, I don’t want to just be wasting your time.

        I guess the focal question is: suppose you went to the doctor and were told that you had a disease that, left untreated, would get worse and worse over time. Would you question the doctor solely about the symptoms of the disease and how they could be managed? Or would you ask what was *causing* the disease and how the cause itself might be addressed? It seems to me that you are advocating the former, because it’s something we can all work together on and feel warm and fuzzy about. But it’s quite simply the wrong approach, because it allows the disease to progress untreated – and this is a disease that we know we can actually cure if we choose to do so! In that situation, if I had a doctor who refused to talk about curing the disease, and instead wanted to talk only about treating symptoms, I would not accommodate the doctor by shifting the debate to symptom treatment because that was more productive; I would fire the doctor and find a new doctor.

        So you write: “To take an old example, lots of reporters asked Chris Christie whether or not he thought Sandy was “caused by” climate change, a scientific question (and a badly framed one). I would have much preferred that they asked him how much sea-level rise New Jersey should prepare for, which is a substantive policy question grounded in science.” That illustrates exactly the problematic shift I’m talking about, though. Asking how much sea-level rise he expects is a question of risks and adaptation to climate change; he can give an answer of “one feet” (or whatever) while continuing to maintain that humans are not causing the sea level rise. By asking only about adaptation measures, you’ve let him off the hook regarding what we might be able to do to *prevent* the sea level rise – even though that is, to me, a much more important question than how we might adapt to it. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I still think climate change is something we can solve if we actually accept that we’re causing it and change our behavior (although of course we’re locked in to a certain amount of effects no matter what we do at this point, too). If we shift to asking politicians only about risks and adaptation, and not pressing them on the cause, we are effectively giving up on doing anything about the processes that are driving climate change.

        I did read that link, yep – I read it back when it was posted, I read everything on the UCS blog (I’ve been a member for years). I have the same objections to it that I have to this article. He writes “[Tapper] anticipated Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s previous dismissive statement about climate science (“I’m not a scientist”) and got the candidates to debate policy, instead.” To me, that is a disservice, in fact. That’s exactly the shift that I am objecting to. He’s letting those politicians get away with talking about risks and adaptation without confronting the root cause, human action. That undermines any possibility of actually taking action to solve the problem, and encourages band-aid solutions that treat only the symptoms, instead. That’s the road toward the worst-case climate change scenario, I think.

        Re: Chris Gibson and Carlos Curbelo, I haven’t heard of them; good to know they exist, although one might wish they had a higher profile. :-> Lindsey Graham… well, here’s what HuffPo wrote about him recently: “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Monday admitted that Republicans need to do some “soul searching” on climate change and blamed former Vice President Al Gore for making it difficult to make progress on the issue.” So I’m not sure he’s very helpful really. But OK, credit where credit is due. I hope he has the spine to stand up for it during the Republican primary debates. Inhofe and black carbon: from the quote in the article, it sounds like his interest in black carbon comes from health concerns, not from climate change, even if some of his collaborators on the legislation believe climate change is real and anthropogenic. So I’m not sure what the relevance is of Inhofe’s support of that bill.

        I’m fine with not assuming that politicians are monolithic on the issue of climate. I’m not fine with shifting the terms of the debate from what is scientifically true to what adaptation measures they would support, however, because that lets them off the hook for their anti-science position, even as that anti-science position remains a fundamental roadblock for progress on emissions reduction.

      • Thanks. And, yes, this is fascinating. I love hearing from our members because they often help us ground and refine our work.

        I think we might agree on the end point we’d like to see, but we’re talking about different ways of getting there for different audiences. Let me answer something you said specifically and then I want to play around with that doctor metaphor.

        I don’t think a sea-level-rise question like I proposed above would let Christie off the hook. At the time, he dismissed questions about Sandy and climate as “esoteric” and said he was focused on rebuilding the shore. If he had said “a foot” in response to a question about sea-level rise and rebuilding (best estimates are around 1.3 feet by mid-century for NJ), I think that would have been a different conversation. Such an answer would necessarily have to involve some recognition of the scientific risks we face because of human-induced climate change. Or perhaps he would have said “zero” or “a millimeter,” an answer that would involve ignoring climate science. Either way, I think the value of such an answer — and reporting around it — could also be highly informative for citizens and could illustrate the *consequences* of ignoring climate science more so than answers to questions about whether or not politicians accept established science on the cause of climate change.

        Overall, the biggest problem with a lot of climate policy coverage is that reporters are still treating whether or not a politicians accepts the science as yet another political position or matter of “belief.” And a lot of politicians still think about it that way, too, including liberals who don’t deeply engage with climate policy, too, I’m sure.

        And I do want to be clear here: I’m not suggesting that journalists stop asking politicians for their thoughts about whether or not industrial activities are causing climate change. I’m asking them to *do more* and get to the types of practical, science-based decisions we should expect national leaders to make.

        So the doctor thing: This is a little rough, but I think it’s like trying to get a doctor who knows the cause of a disease and a surgeon who wants to take care of the symptoms to actually talk to each other and start talking about the disease and the symptoms from a platform of common knowledge. I know that’s perhaps a tortured metaphor, but it’s to say that politicians all view their jobs differently and some of them may only engage with the “cause” of the disease if you first ask them to grapple with why the “symptoms” are so especially bad.

      • Ben

        Aaron, I like what you’re saying here. This does indeed seem like a good approach – emphasizing the *consequences* of failing to believe in science, not just the failure itself. Starting with policy, and then underlining how the policy is or is not flawed from the perspective of what we actually know about climate change and its causes. I like that emphasis; I agree that it would make the issue less abstract for people, less a matter of faith and more a matter of how the beliefs of politicians will actually impact their lives in big ways. I feel like I didn’t see that emphasis in your original essay; I took it to be advocating abandoning talking about whether or not the politicians believe the science or not, in favor of simply talking policy. Perhaps I didn’t read carefully enough.

        At the same time, I still do feel that what you’re advocating is missing an emphasis on emissions reductions. Take your discussion above of how you’d talk with Christie. Start with what sea level rise he advocates that NJ should plan for, fine; then compare that to the scientific estimates for sea level rise in different timeframes and show whether what he is advocating is realistic and science-based, fine. But then there ought to more steps after that, to tie it back to whether or not he supports emissions reductions, a carbon tax, etc, and why. Ask him about the cost of adaptation to sea level rise versus the cost of emissions reduction. Ask him why NJ is still generating power from coal, given the costs in climate change adaptation that that is causing on the other end. Ask him whether he feels that NJ has any moral responsibility for the climate change that its coal plants are causing for everybody else around the world. Ask him how NJ will “adapt” to ocean acidification and the impact that is likely to have on fisheries. Ask him how the elderly and infirm will “adapt” to increased mortality due to more frequent and severe heat waves. Ask him why (if I’m recalling correctly) NJ withdrew from the regional carbon-trading market. Etc. And tie his answers, again, back to not only his belief in the science and the realism of his policy recommendations, but also to his support for emissions reduction. I think politicians really need to be publicly shamed for not supporting emissions reduction; that is the only way to avert the tragedy of the commons in which it is in the interests of each individual state/country to emit as much as possible, because the benefits (cheap power) accrue locally while the costs (climate change) are distributed globally.

        So my basic point is: OK, sure, center the discussion on policy and reflect back on the science to see if the policy makes sense – but do that for emissions control policy, too, not just adaptation policy. I felt like that angle was completely missing from what you wrote.

        Anyhow, I agree that it does sound like we have the same end point in mind, and are only discussing the strategy of how to get there. But of course strategy is important! Thanks for the discussion. :->

  • Biologyteacher100

    Bush seems to think that science should provide certainty and that science should say how much climate change is natural and how much is manmade. The best estimates indicate that the earth was slowly cooling before beginning of the industrial age. One can then conclude that more than 100% of the warming is caused by man. Yes, we need a debate on policy and not on reality.

    • 如果你能读懂这些文字,你就是个老外

      I think one Bush listened to much to another! Awkward scientific views are part of the Bush family DNA, i bet god spoke to George and Jeb regarding climate change…. thats why they know it all.

    • Thanks. I’m still thinking about the best way to express that since the idea of “more than 100%” is so counter-intuitive for most folks. Very open to ideas on that one.

  • *How* do we migrate from fossil fuels to renewables? As it comes to climate change, that’s the only debate that matters …

    “It’s simple math: we can emit 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Burning the fossil fuel that corporations now have in their reserves would result in emitting 2,795 gigatons of carbon dioxide – five times the safe amount. Fossil fuel companies are planning to burn it all — unless we rise up to stop them.” http://math.350.org