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Scientists question Scott’s commitment on climate after meeting

Tue, Aug 19, 2014

Climate Change, Gov. Rick Scott

By BRUCE RITCHIE
FLORIDAENVIRONMENTS.COM

Scientists who met Tuesday with Gov. Rick Scott to explain the threat of climate change said the governor asked only modest questions while withholding comment on the issue.

Eckerd College Professor David Hastings, left, was among the scientists meeting with Gov. Rick Scott, right, and aide Noah Valenstein. Photo by Bruce Ritchie.

Eckerd College Professor David Hastings, left, was among the scientists meeting with Gov. Rick Scott, right, and aide Noah Valenstein. Photo by Bruce Ritchie.

“He asked modest questions but he did not ask questions that reflected his understanding of the material,” Eckerd College Professor David Hastings said. “Nor was there any reflection of the position he is going to take.”

Ten Florida scientists in July requested the meeting with Scott after the governor in May answered questions from reporters about whether he accepted climate change as real by responding, “I’m not a scientist.”

During the 30-minute meeting on Tuesday, Hastings and four other scientists said Florida is vulnerable to sea level rise resulting from climate change and should publicly develop a response to a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule to reduce carbon pollution. Hastings called the EPA plan “forward-thinking.”

Scott left the meeting in the governor’s office without responding to reporters’ questions. A spokesman said the governor left for a staff meeting.

The governor’s response contrasted with that of former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democratic candidate for governor, following a presentation on climate change by Florida State University professor Jeff Chanton on July 25.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, now running for governor as a Democrat, questions Florida State University Professor Jeff Chanton during a presentation on July 25. Photo by Bruce Ritchie

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, now running for governor as a Democrat, questions Florida State University Professor Jeff Chanton during a presentation on July 25. Photo by Bruce Ritchie

“There is a distinction between the two of us running for governor this year,” Crist said of Scott. “I am eager to learn. I am eager to be open-minded. I believe in science. The other governor … was not going to meet with this man (Chanton) until I was given the opportunity to do so.”

A spokesman for the governor’s campaign responded at the time by calling the Crist meeting a “publicity stunt,” according to Halifax Media Service.

Crist said after the meeting he would be willing to sign executive orders to address the issue again. He signed executive orders in 2007 dealing with climate change but cooled toward the issue later before leaving office after the 2010 election.

Although Scott didn’t raise serious questions or indicate what he might do, Hastings said he didn’t think the scientists wasted their time.

“I think its fantastic he met with us,” Hastings said. “I think it’s fantastic he had us come here. I’m also a realist.”

“I look forward to hearing what he is going to do,” he said. “I’m also concerned he might not do anything.”

(Story and photos copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Floridaenvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained from bruceBritchie@gmail.com)

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