By Jeff Spross July 16, 2014 at 9:34 amUpdated: July 16, 2014 at 9:59 am
Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL)
CREDIT: Office of Rick Scott / Meredyth Hope Hall
If you’re not a scientist, presumably you should listen to people who are when grappling with climate change.
That is the logic, at least, of a group of scientists who sent Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) a letter on Tuesday requesting a meeting so they can explain to him the science of climate change. The Tampa Bay Times reported that ten prominent scientists, including professors at the University of Miami, Florida State, Florida International and Eckerd College, signed the letter, which read in part “it is crucial for policymakers, such as yourself, to have a full understanding of the current and future threats to Florida.”
In his initial 2010 campaign, Scott replied “I have not been convinced” when asked if he believes in global warming. And as the letter noted, the Governor has since settled into a common pattern among Republicans whenever pressed on the issue of climate change, simply responding with “I’m not a scientist.”
“We are scientists,” the letter continued. “And we would like the opportunity to explain what is at stake for our state.”
“Those of us signing this letter have spent hundreds of years combined studying this problem, not from any partisan political perspective, but as scientists — seekers of evidence and explanations. As a result, we feel uniquely qualified to assist you in understanding what’s already happening in the climate system so you may make the most effective decisions about what must be done to protect the state, including reducing emissions from fossil fuel burning power plants.”
Jeff Chanton, a professor of oceanography at Florida State University, hand-delivered the letter to Scott’s Capitol office.
“I just want him to understand what the situation is — and put it in a historical, million-year context, about what the greenhouse gas history is,” Chanton told the Times, pointing to ice core data that shows the Earth plowing through vast temperature extremes over its multimillion-year history, rising whenever the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased, and falling when it decreased. But those concentrations also never ranged outside of 180 to 280 parts per million (ppm). Today, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere stands at 400 ppm.