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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida scientists want to meet with Trump, talk climate change

23

December

Ten Florida scientists have written President-elect Donald Trump a letter offering to brief him about climate change while he's spending Christmas at his Mar-A-Lago estate.

Trump has repeatedly denied climate change exists, at one point calling it a "Chinese hoax" designed to ruin the American economy. More recently he asserted, "Nobody really knows" if climate change is real.

The scientists want to show him that he's wrong — somebody does know, and they know that low-lying Florida is the state most vulnerable to rising sea levels.

And that includes Trump's own waterfront estate.

"The future of Florida is at stake," they wrote in their letter, dated Thursday. "We would like to discuss with you the impact that sea level rise will have on properties like Mar-A-Lago."

A coalition of South Florida governments studying climate change has settled on 2 feet as the likely rate of sea level rise here by 2050. Because Florida is so flat, even a few inches of increase means water pushes a long way inland. For instance, the mangroves lining the shores of Charlotte Harbor have retreated the length of a football field from where they were 50 years ago.

And the streets in Miami Beach, which has an average elevation of 4.4 feet and some 7 miles of beaches, are already flooding more often from high tides rather than from heavy rains.

Last year five Florida scientists met with Gov. Rick Scott — who as a Naples resident is another waterfront property owner who has expressed skepticism about climate change — to try to convince him that not only did it exist, but it was a major issue he should address.

Scott was cordial but remained noncommittal. He said he wanted solutions. They sent him some. He did not respond.

More than two dozen Florida scientists sent Trump a similar letter in October, proposing a meeting to show him the evidence about climate change. So far, they have received no response, said Ben Kirtman, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Miami.

The climate news isn't all bad, he pointed out. "We see a lot of economic opportunity here," Kirtman explained.

So how likely is it that Trump will respond this time when he didn't last time?

"I'm always optimistic," Kirtman said, laughing. "Cautiously optimistic."

[Last modified: Friday, December 23, 2016 2:36pm]

    

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