TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott deflected calls to meet with climate scientists Wednesday and told reporters that his staff "would be happy to meet" with the state's top climate experts about the impact human-induced global warming is having on Florida.
Ten of the state's top scientists in oceanography, climate and atmospheric sciences delivered a letter to Scott on Tuesday, asking for an opportunity to explain to him the impact human-induced global warming will have on Florida.
"We note you have been asked several times about how, as Governor, you will handle the issue of climate change," the professors wrote in a two-page letter to Scott. "You responded that you are 'not a scientist.' We are scientists and we would like the opportunity to explain what is at stake for our state."
Jeff Chanton, the Florida State University oceanography professor who delivered the letter, told the Times/Herald that he is still hoping to meet with the guy in charge, Scott.
"I will meet with everyone and I'd be happy to meet with his staff,'' said Chanton, who noted that he is a Republican. He even offered a bit of political advice on the issue Scott has been reluctant to address. "He could undercut Crist on the issue," Chanton said, referring to Scott's Democratic rival who as governor had embarked on a series of aggressive policies aimed at reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.
The GOP-controlled Legislature has dismantled nearly all of those programs with the agreement of Scott, who in 2010 signaled he was in the climate change deniers camp.
In a statement about the letter on Wednesday, Scott said he was "focused on solutions we can implement to protect our land, water and families."
"We have made environmental restoration a top priority — investing record amounts in the Everglades and Springs projects all across Florida, even many that were not prioritized by the previous administration," he said.
How important climate change will be this election cycle remains to be seen.