Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush says “I don’t get my economic policy” from the Catholic church and so he won’t be swayed by Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical that takes a hard line on the threat of global warming to the planet.
The former Florida governor converted to Catholicism 20 years ago and is a devout church goer. Although Bush acknowledges climate change, he questions whether humans are disproportionately responsible for variations in the earth’s temperature.
Global warming has received relatively scant attention in the early going of the 2016 presidential campaign, especially on the Republican side. During a recent appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” program, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sharply criticized other Republican presidential candidates for sidestepping environmental issues or embracing dangerously narrow positions designed to protect business.
Bush and four other Catholics seeking the GOP presidential nomination – Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Gov. Chris Christi of New Jersey, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal – generally oppose government action to control greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say directly contributes to climate change.
Christie goes farther than some of the others in acknowledging the existence of global warming, in light of reams of scientific findings. “There’s no use in denying global warming exists [but] the question is what we do to deal with it?” he said in May. The U.S. or a group of states “can’t be acting unilaterally…when folks in China are doing things to the environment that would never be done in our country,” he added.
With Pope Francis about to weigh in on global warming, and many voters – including large numbers of Catholics—concerned about the mounting threat of climate change to the planet, the issue may get more attention on the campaign trail. According to media reports, the Pope this week will call for changes in lifestyles and energy consumption to avert the “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem” before the end of this century
A new Pew Research Center survey published on Tuesday found that U.S. Catholics’ views on climate change “are broadly reflective of American public opinion writ large.”
About seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics believe the planet is getting warmer, according to the survey. Nearly half of Catholic adults (47 percent) attribute global warming to human causes, and 48 percent view it as a very serious problem.
Among the general public, 68 percent believe the earth is warming, 45 percent believe warming is caused by human activity and 46 percent believe it is a serious problem.
In gauging public sentiment about this controversial issue, politics clearly is an important element of the equation. More than eight-in-ten Catholic Democrats say there is solid evidence that Earth is warming, compared with just half of Catholic Republicans, according to Pew.
While six-in-ten Catholic Democrats say global warming is a man-made phenomenon and that it poses a very serious problem, only about a quarter of Catholic Republicans agree.
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