Jeb Bush hit back against President Obama’s claim that climate change runs an immediate risk, saying Wednesday that while it shouldn’t be ignored, it’s still not “the highest priority.”
As he has before, Bush acknowledged “the climate is changing” but stressed that it’s unknown why. “I don’t think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted,” he said at a house party in Bedford, New Hampshire.
“For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he continued. “It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even. The climate is changing. We need to adapt to that reality.”
Earlier Wednesday, Obama warned in a commencement speech to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that climate change “constitutes a serious threat to global security (and) an immediate risk to our national security.”
Shaking his head as the host of the house party, Richard Ashooh, quoted Obama’s remarks, Bush chided the President for taking what he argued was the wrong path in addressing the problem.
“The President’s approach is, effectively, reduce economic activity to lower our carbon footprint,” he said. “That’s not what he says, of course, but that’s the result of his policies.”
Rather than focusing on carbon emissions, Bush said, the federal government should provide more incentives for lower carbon-producing forms of energy, like hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling.
“I don’t think it’s the highest priority. I don’t think we should ignore it, either,” Bush said of climate change. “Just generally I think as conservatives we should embrace innovation, embrace technology, embrace science. … Sometimes I sense that we pull back from the embrace of these things. We shouldn’t.”
The Democratic National Committee was quick to respond to Bush’s comments Wednesday night.
“Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that human activity has led to climate change. Ninety-seven percent. But Jeb Bush thinks they’re wrong. Who’s being intellectually arrogant now?” said Holly Shulman, DNC spokeswoman, in a written statement.