Ninety-two percent of Floridians say the public should be involved in helping craft the Sunshine State's plan to meet limits on carbon pollution from power plants proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to a poll conducted by SurveyUSA for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Results also show that 77 percent support the Obama administration EPA's Clean Power Plan, which proposes cutting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. In addition, NRDC and SurveyUSA found that 71 percent of Floridians believe carbon pollution causes climate change.
The poll results are a rebuke to Florida Governor Scott's position on climate change. The governor stirred up controversy recently when he trotted out what's become the standard climate-denier excuse that since he wasn't a scientist, he could not make a judgment if man-made carbon emissions play a role in causing climate change.
Climate scientists, the media and Floridians immediately took Gov. Scott to task. Ten Florida scientists hand-delivered a letter to the Governor's office requesting he meet with them so they could explain the research and evidence that has led the climate science community to conclude that the climate is indeed warming at an extraordinarily rapid rate, and that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are a pivotal factor driving mean annual temperatures higher.
Not so sunny outlook for the Sunshine State
Florida is among the U.S. states most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, impacts that are already taking a toll on Florida's economy, as well supporting ecosystems and social infrastructure. Longer term, the effects of rapid climate change raise doubts about the sustainability of the state's major cities, most of which are located along its extensive coastline.
According to the EPA's latest National Climate Assessment, “[S]ome of Florida’s top tourist attractions, including the Everglades and the Florida Keys, are threatened by sea level rise, with estimated revenue losses of $9 billion by 2025 and $40 billion by the 2050s.” That's just for starters.
Sea level rise threatens to inundate the groundwater and aquifers that Floridians rely on for freshwater. Telemundo delved into the impacts of climate change on public health, focusing in on climate change's impacts on health among Florida's Hispanic community, NRDC's Pamela Rivera highlighted in a recent blog post.
Though brimming with potential to roll out solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, Florida ranks among the top three U.S. states in carbon emissions. The state's well-entrenched utilities have effectively gotten state government representatives to stonewall changes that would speed a transition to clean, renewable energy sources.
"I'm not a scientist."
Gov. Scott's position that he can't make a judgment on whether or not man-made carbon emissions are causing climate change is a lame, and ludicrous, one. He isn't a doctor either, so should Floridians rely on him to make decisions about health care? He's not a teacher, so can they rely on him to make decisions about education? Scott's not an ecologist, either, so should he be relied on to decide on environmental policy? He's not an economist or energy expert, so should he be entrusted with making decisions about economic or energy policy?
Commenting on the results of the NRDC-SurveyUSA poll, Manny Diaz, who served as Miami's mayor from 2001-2009, stated:
“As a former mayor of Miami and Floridian, I join with the large majority of Floridians who believe that climate change is caused by carbon pollution, want the public to be at the table in crafting the state’s plan to meet with the EPA’s new standards, support limits on how much carbon pollution a power plant can release and endorse EPA’s proposed new standards that will help avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
“I am acutely aware of the threat man-made climate change poses to our communities and our livelihoods. Floridians, regardless of political affiliation, see climate change as a danger to their way of life and want their elected officials to do something about it. The question is whether they will listen to the people they represent.”
Responding to their request to discuss the evidence for, and risks associated with, human-induced climate change, Gov. Scott met with the group of five Florida scientists for a half-hour on August 19.
The governor did not issue a statement or take any questions after the meeting. David Hastings, a professor of marine science and chemistry at Eckerd College, was quoted as saying in a news report, "I'm inherently an optimist. I'm also a realist. I'm concerned he might not do anything."