Last month five climate scientists gave Florida Gov. Rick Scott a crash-course in climate change, a meeting that left some of the scientists wondering how much information Scott had absorbed. Now they are calling on the governor to meet with them again — this time for a summit focused on finding solutions to climate change.
As the Miami Herald reported, the five scientists who met with Scott — along with 37 other Florida-based climate scientists — wrote a letter to Scott and the rest of Florida’s policymakers Thursday, asking them to attend a Climate Science and Solutions Summit that the scientists are planning for the fall.
The letter comes in response to Scott’s statement in July that he was “focused on solutions we can implement to protect our land, water, and families,” a focus that he repeated the day of his August 19 meeting with the climate scientists, telling reporters he was more interested in talking about the solutions to climate change than he was its causes.
“We share Governor Scott’s desire for solutions,” the scientists wrote. “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.”
The scientists say in their letter that the summit would include engineers and entrepreneurs who have been working on finding ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Ben Kirtman, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Miami and one of the scientists who met with Scott in August, told ThinkProgress in an email that he didn’t have details on the summit yet, but that the scientists are planning on hosting it regardless of whether the governor decides to attend.
“We stand ready to discuss advances in clean energy options, such as energy efficiency, solar and wind power,” the letter states. “These energy sources offer the best potential for meeting the carbon limits cost effectively and reducing the future impacts of climate change on Florida with the added benefit of creating jobs and keeping energy dollars in the state.”
In their initial meeting last month, the scientists sought to explain the causes and consequences of climate change to Scott. The governor, who’s running for re-election this fall and who has skirted questions on climate change in the past, didn’t seem to take a deep interest in the meeting, the scientists said. Though they were grateful the governor met with them, they said he didn’t ask any questions and took up 10 minutes of the 30-minute meeting making small talk.
“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,” Kirtman told ThinkProgress in August. “I don’t honestly believe the governor is climate literate, and I don’t think he is particularly interested in becoming climate literate.”
Kirtman also said that, ideally, he’d like to see the governor set up another meeting with the scientists, a desire he might see come to fruition if Scott accepts the scientist’s invitation to the climate summit.
A few weeks before Scott met with the scientists in August, he unveiled a plan for how he will address environmental issues in Florida if he’s re-elected governor. The plan outlines $1 billion in investments, with a focus on improving the health of Florida’s water, but doesn’t mention climate change. Florida — especially the southern end of the state — is on the front lines of climate change. The landmark National Climate Assessment, released earlier this year, warned that “just inches of sea level rise will impair the capacity of stormwater drainage systems to empty into the ocean” in Southeast Florida.
“The problem of climate change is not a hypothetical,” the scientists said in their letter, adding that it is “crucial for policymakers to have a full access to scientific expertise regarding the current and future threats to Florida.”