Last month, Florida Governor Rick Scott gave a handful of scientists 30 (actually 20) minutes to explain why his state needs a climate change plan. He left without asking a single question. Now 42 scientists are inviting the governor to attend a climate summit where they can discuss the issue in its full, dire details.
Scott is a noted climate skeptic, though that position has loosened over time. Once he was comfortable telling reporters he was “not convinced” there was any man-made climate change, though his current refrain is to simply say he’s “not a scientist.”
This may hurt him in the coming November election, as his opponent is Florida’s former governor (and former Republican) Charlie Crist, a proven supporter of environmental issues. As floods become increasingly common in Miami-Dade and other southern counties, Scott may have to bite the climate bullet if he wants to win re-election.
Thus, the five scientists who gave Scott a crash course in climate change have penned a letter to the Governor, inviting him to attend a summit that they are planning for the fall. The letter was signed by an additional 37 Florida scientists.
When Scott told reporters he could not comment on climate change because he was “not a scientist,” 10 scientists wrote him a letter asking to teach him what they knew. When he attended the lesson, Scott told reporters he was more interested in climate change solutions than climate change causes. So now 42 scientists are giving a summit on just what those solutions could be.
“We share Governor Scott’s desire for solutions,” they write in their letter. “It is crucial for policymakers to understand that human activity is affecting the composition of the atmosphere which will lead to adverse effects on human economies, health and well being. Once policy makers understand this problem, it follows that we are capable of taking action for both adaptation and to prevent the problem from accelerating.”
At the summit, scientists will discuss alternative energy options, such as solar and wind, that will reduce carbon emissions and reduce the future impacts of climate change.
Scott has told reporters that, if he is re-elected governor, he has a $1 billion plan for improving Florida’s water. Thus far he has not mentioned climate change.
One of the scientists who spoke to Scott last month, University of Miami Professor Ben Kirtman, was frank in his assessment of the Governor.
“We didn’t have that kind of discussion where there’s this important give and take that’s associated with actually, from my experience, absorbing the information,” he told reporters. “I don’t honestly believe the governor is climate literate, and I don’t think he is particularly interested in becoming climate literate.”