ST. PETERSBURG — An Eckerd College professor in a group of prominent scientists that pressed Gov. Rick Scott for a meeting on climate change said the governor should begin to consider a state strategy for cutting carbon pollution.
David Hastings, a professor of marine science and chemistry and one of 10 people who signed a letter delivered to the governor Tuesday, said Florida should make plans to comply with standards set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA called on Florida to reduce its carbon intensity rate by 38 percent by 2030.
Scott’s campaign released a statement Friday saying he would meet with the group.
Earlier, the governor said someone in his administration would take the meeting. But after Charlie Crist, Scott’s likely Democratic opponent, said he would meet with the climate scientists, Scott said he would, too.
“This is not a meeting to talk about theoretical action,” Hastings said. “The governor needs to set up a transparent process on the federal government’s climate action plan. It is complex and important – this is how we’re going to reduce heat-trapping gasses for the next 20 years.”
Scott has not yet answered questions about global warming and the state’s strategy for dealing with it, which appears to have frustrated the experts.
“We note you have been asked several times about how, as Governor, you will handle the issue of climate change,” said the letter delivered to Scott’s office by Florida State atmospheric science professor Jeff Chanton. “You responded that you were ‘not a scientist.’ We are scientists and we would like the opportunity to explain what is at stake for our state.”
During his campaign for governor in 2010, Scott said he did not believe in climate change. More recently, he has repeated his not-a-scientist line and spoken only generically about protecting land, water and families.
The scientists’ letter said the group welcomed the chance to present Scott with the latest climate science. It noted that Florida is one of the most vulnerable places in the country with respect to climate change.
A recent National Climate Assessment concluded that Florida is “exceptionally vulnerable” to sea level rise, extreme heat events, and decreased water availability caused by climate change.
“This is not meant to be a political stunt,” said Hastings. “This is meant to educate (Scott) and his staff. It’s just tremendously important that policymakers understand the seriousness of what is happening now and what is in store for us.”
Crist, who preceded Scott in the governor’s chair, had an aggressive record on climate change. He hosted a global-warming conference, created a state energy and climate commission, backed standards for lower emissions from automobiles, and opposed construction of coal-fueled power plants.
The Republican-controlled Legislature has dismantled many of the Crist initiatives.