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Politics

Backroom Briefing: Jeb Steaming over 'Intellectual Arrogance'

May 20, 2015 - 6:00pm

Jeb Bush is keeping Sunshine State governors in the global-warming crosshairs with comments this week in which he called the science surrounding the issue "convoluted."

On the campaign trail last year, Gov. Rick Scott demurred when asked about climate change, saying, "I'm not a scientist."

Former Florida Gov. Bush isn't a scientist either --- he earned a bachelor's degree in Latin American studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

But the wonkish Bush, who's exploring a run for president, isn't as skittish as Scott about the matter. Echoing views expressed earlier, Bush conceded that the "climate is changing" but insisted that the cause is unknown.

"I don't think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It's convoluted," he told about 100 supporters at a house party Wednesday in Bedford, N.H., according to numerous media reports.

Bush was responding to a question about President Barack Obama's remarks earlier in the day in which Obama referred to climate change as a "serious threat" to national security.

"For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you," Bush went on. "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."

Democrats quickly blasted Bush, saying in a press release that 97 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?" Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Holly Shulman said.

The as-yet-undeclared candidate Bush could be tossing some red meat to the right in what is expected to be a crowded GOP presidential primary. An April Gallup survey found that two-thirds of conservative Republicans believe that effects from global warming would never be felt and that climate change is mostly due to natural causes.

Bush encouraging "conversation" about the issue comes in contrast to Scott, who sparked national headlines when enviros accused him of putting a gag order on state officials by forbidding the use of the words "climate change."

Scott denied the accusations. But it took several weeks before Scott's top environmental official, Jonathan Steverson, possibly trying to put the rumors to rest, repeatedly uttered the phrase during a confirmation hearing in April.

PUTNAM, HASTINGS SWEET ON BEES

Florida politicos engaged in some bipartisan buzz about bees this week, but with a slight twist.

In an email with the punny subject line, "Don't worry, Bee Happy: Florida's Bee Colonies Increasing," Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican, boasted Wednesday that, bucking a national trend, the state has seen a 145 percent increase in managed bee colonies over the past eight years.

The following day, Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings issued a more dire bee-related missive announcing the Pollinator Health Task Force's release of the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.

The national plan "could not have come at a more critical time for pollinators, as a recently released study revealed that in a 12-month period ending in April, more than 40 percent of U.S. honeybee colonies died," Hastings, co-chairman of the "Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus," said in the statement.

In his advisory, Putnam pointed out that the national model includes the program his office helped develop two years ago.

"It is exciting to see the growth of bee colonies in Florida, with beekeepers and growers working together in Florida to solve common problems. We are proud that our state-based efforts have contributed to the national model to improve the health of our nation's bees," Putnam said.

Both Hastings and Putnam focused on the economics of bees, critical players in the state's $120 billion agriculture industry.

"Pollinators are vital to our nation's agriculture, economy, and ecosystem. With 75 percent of flowering plants relying on pollinators, and pollinators contributing nearly $15 billion to the nation's economy, improving their health and strengthening their population is critically important," Hastings said.

TWEET OF THE WEEK: " 'We don't know what we're asking.' Sounds like @FLGovScott's Hospital Commission with no healthcare experts is going well. #sayfie" --- Florida Democratic Party spokesman Max Steele (@maxasteele) quoting one of the members of Gov. Rick Scott's Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding at the panel's initial meeting Wednesday.

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