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Scott meets with experts but would not say if he still denies climate change

Scott and climate change

Gov. Rick Scott listened to five of Florida’s top climate scientists Tuesday as they urged him to show leadership and develop policies to offset the impact of human-induced climate change to the state.

But the governor whose campaign strategy has been to say nothing on the issue except that he is “not a scientist,” stayed true to his plan. He would not comment, question or commit to whether or not he believes the warnings by the experts deserve his attention.

“Thank you all,’’ Scott said as the scientists finished their presentations within the 30-minute time period set aside to meet with them. His policy aide, Noah Valenstein, thanked the scientists for attending, and the governor exited the room. Next on the governor’s schedule was “staff and call time,’’ his aides said.

The scientists, who are the top in their fields at the University of Miami, Florida State University and Eckerd College had asked for the meeting a month ago to explain the urgency of developing a more activist set of policies to mitigate the impact of global warming.

Photo: Eckerd College Marine Science Professor David Hastings speaks to Gov. Rick Scott and his aide, Noah Valenstein, about why Florida should take action now to offset the impact of climate change.

Scott initially announced that his staff would meet with the scientists but he agreed to personally meet with them only after former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democratic candidate for governor and climate change believer, announced he would personally meet with the experts.

“This is not complicated,’’ said David Hastings, professor of marine science and chemistry at Eckerd College, before the meeting. “We teach this to 18-year-olds every year and I’ve been doing it for 25 years. It’s not hard science.”

He said he hoped the meeting would be a “moment for leadership” from the governor and a “moment to demonstrate to his constituents that he cares.”

Seated in a circle in the governor’s Capitol office, the scientists made their case, one by one, as the media recorded the moment.

Ben Kirtman, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Miami, showed the governor a map of Miami Dade and Broward counties that depicted how two feet of sea level rise — projected by 2048 — will swallow much of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties and nearly all of the state’s barrier islands.

Jeff Chanton, professor of oceanography at Florida State University, detailed how human activities have changed the composition of the atmosphere since the industrial age — a timeline etched into carbon dioxide deposits captured in layers of polar ice.

John Van Leer, associate professor of ocean sciences at the UM, spoke about how the ocean traps the globe’s warming temperatures, melting the polar ice cap and expanding the volume of water in a two-pronged assault on Florida’s shores.

"As scientists, we're the map makers," said Hastings of Eckerd College. But the governor, he said, "as policymakers, you're the navigators" and “we need strong leadership from your office — and from you in particular — to minimize the impact.”

And, in an obvious appeal to the governor’s constant focus on jobs, the scientists also donned their business hats.

“There is a geo-thermal industry, which could happen here to replace a lot of the energy we’re using in air conditioning,” said Van Leer, adding: “the longer you wait the cost of the solution goes up about 40 percent a decade.”

Finally, the scientists spoke of the current costs of doing nothing: sea level rises have caused flooding in Miami Beach at high tide, salt water has encroached into drinking water, and warming temperatures and increasing salinity are destroying coral reefs.

The governor did have some questions.

He asked the professors to explain their backgrounds, describe the courses they taught and where students in their academic fields get jobs. But Scott, who said in 2010 that he has “not been convinced that there’s any man-made climate change” showed no sign that his skepticism about human-induced climate change had shifted.

“There was, in fact, no acknowledgment of the issue nor was there any reflection of the seriousness of the issue,’’ Hastings said after the meeting. “I’m concerned he might not do anything.”

Each of the scientists commended the governor for allowing the meeting and Hastings encouraged the governor to develop an action plan. Under new Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate rules, Florida must reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 38 percent by 2030 and the governor has until Oct. 15 to comment on the rules. A plan must be in place within two years.

“Florida is uniquely positioned to be a leader — in how to adapt and how to mitigate the effects of climate change,’’ Kirtman said.

But Scott and his aide sat silently as Hastings urged the governor’s office to “develop a transparent process” to prepare the plan that “brings all the stakeholders together.”

The easy solutions, Hastings said, are to reduce or eliminate coal-fired power plants, increase efficiency to wean the state off carbon-emitting natural gas and oil-fired power, and to develop more alternative energy options.

None of those options are embraced by the state’s electric power industry, however. Scott’s re-election campaign has received more than $800,000 from Florida’s largest electric utility, Florida Power & Light and its parent company, NextEra Energy while the Republican Party of Florida has received more than $700,000 from the energy giant.

Reducing carbon emissions in Florida by 38 percent “is an ambitious goal,’’ Hastings said after the meeting. “It will take some work and thought and I’m not convinced at this point that he is putting that thought into it.”

He added, however, that he is an optimist and “maybe in the next few weeks we’ll see some evidence of that.”

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@MiamiHerald.com and @MaryEllenKlas





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Highly paid Republican operative

The Boss don't like to be told jack!

Bill Thompson

This was all about the photo op for the campaign and to pretend that the scumbag Scott has an interest in this subject.

Gary Eickmeier

Where is the video of this briefing?

ed jenkins

The citizens do not care who their political leaders meet with as it is their time and they are the best at deciding how to use it.

However they do not want this scott listening to anything these eggheads who make outrageous claims because they have no consequences say. Democrat primary voters who already suffer from the massive cost burdens that higher government spending and regulations have put on them over recent decades are outraged that these most horrible people would suggest putting more of a burden on them only for their own entertainment. The citizens would like this scott to suggest these crackpots find something more productive to spend their time on most of which is paid by taxpayer confiscated funds.

Keith Stegath

EdJ's right. These so-called "scientists" earn $80,000-$120,000 a year making up stories to keep their jobs, while the real thinkers and college drop-outs only make $10,000,000-$40,000,000.

It's obvious that 10,000 "scientists" have colluded and uniformly manufactured data. Some probably drilled arctic core samples, injected pure oxygen into the 200,000 year old air bubbles, then reburied the core sample and refilled the hole with 200,000 year old water to assure consistency and perpetuate the scam.

Heck, the Earth is only 5,000 years old.
It's obvious to everyone that liberal "egg-heads" want to destroy our world by protecting it.

James Williams

Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Stegath are the real "egg-heads" ... hard boiled and well rotted at that. It's self-delusional the believe they are "the real thinkers."

Robert H. Pike

Scott's a denier because he's paid to be; "Scott’s re-election campaign has received more than $800,000 from Florida’s largest electric utility, Florida Power & Light and its parent company, NextEra Energy while the Republican Party of Florida has received more than $700,000 from the energy giant".

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2014/08/scott-meets-with-experts-but-would-not-say-if-he-still-denies-climate-change.html#storylink=cpy

Robert H. Pike

The wealthy welcome climate change and sea level rise. They have been betting (via paying insurance) that their waterfront property WILL be taken out by a storm; so they can rebuild bigger, better, and higher, of course!

Lynnette Angell

Dick Scott looked totally uninterested, he is the
brick head posterboy. He gets $800,000 contribution fro FPL,
and you expect him to acknowledge the science
That is going to wreak havoc on Florida and the
rest of the world. He's too bought by special interest
and for his stupid,selfish, tiny minded sensibilities, he
has no place in politics. He belongs in a zoo as a
hopefully endangered species, along with all the other
like-minded fools.

Keith Stegath

James W., I think you overlooked something in my post (or maybe I'm overlooking the sarcasm in yours of equating me and Dr. Ed J.).

You may rest easier if you visit www.fla-gov.org.

Stephen j spano

This spas a chance for the Govenor to learn something. Instead he chose to sit there and be dummy. It really bothers me to think the Republican Party here in florida don't have the balls to admit to climate change. It goes to show you that everything about our government is focused on the dollar sign. If anyone deserves to catch something,it's Rick Scott.

Ned Doyle

Ed Jenkins and Keith Stegath and your ilk;
WOW! The collusion of 10,000 scientists?
Injecting oxygen onto drilled ice samples?
You apparently missed the basic premise itself that 'sound science' is based in FACT. And cannot pass muster as theory alone, but rather by exhausting, repetative and on-going and evolving research. Did you never learn this? It appears not. Just as easy to IGNORANTLY, take up peoples time, pretending to 'listen' when your agenda has been formulated and won't budge. (Typically, when you get to the crux of the matter-based on how money/political contributions/influence peddling, perpetuating your political rather than actual solutional agendas). Just like Rick Scott; time spent on people like you two 'eggheads' is likely wasted, but DO NOT attempt to sway public opinion with your ridiculuos inuendo, conspiracy theories and labels. You WON'T insult our intelligence; it is clear you are lacking in that ability, Just as CLEARLY as Rick Scott is.

Chuck H.

Um, I think Keith Stegath was being sarcastic. (I hope.)



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