Political Hay

Climate Dodge Ball

One candidate is wrong — the other AWOL.

By 8.21.14

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Tampa

Democrat Charlie Crist wants to be governor of Florida. He says global warming/climate change is one of the most important issues facing the state and the nation. He promises drastic action to cut greenhouse gas emissions if he is elected in November. He’s wrong about this. The actions he wishes to take would be disastrous for the Florida economy and would do nothing to improve Florida’s environment.

Republican Rick Scott, who is Florida’s governor and would like to be re-elected to this post in November, just wishes the issue would go away. He inartfully ducks questions on the issue, often using the pathetic dodge that he “is not a scientist,” and therefore can’t be expected to have a view on whether the Earth is warming and that terrible things will follow if we don’t ensure that the planet stays at a more seemly temperature.

Scott met Tuesday with five Florida university scientists who came to Tallahassee to proselytize him for the First Church of Climate Hysteria. After the meeting Scott was mum. During a Wednesday morning presentation at the Brandon (suburb of Tampa) Chamber of Commerce, where Scott bragged on $10.4 billion his administration will be “investing” (there’s that word again) in infrastructure, reporters asked him if he thought human activity was causing the planet to heat up. He flat wouldn’t take it on. Here’s one of his wimpy answers:

“I’m not an expert of this, so I’m not qualified from a causation side. I’m a business guy. I’m a solutions person. So my focus is — we know there’s issues out there — sea level rise — so let’s focus on how to solve it. That’s why we’ve put record funding in both for beach renourishment — increased it by 45 percent — also on flood mitigation — also on protecting our reefs — also protecting our springs…”

And on and on like this. Every direct question on global warming/climate change occasioned another indirect environmental tour-de-horizon. By and by, the reporters quit asking. Br’er Rabbit got better responses from the Tar Baby.

This just won’t do. The issue — which is about 95 percent political and five percent scientific — won’t go away. The Left will use it as a battering ram to force more taxes, more regulation, more control of every kind over the economy and over Americans’ personal behavior. This issue, on top of ObamaGovernmentCare, could finish the job of Sovietizing what’s left of a once free America.

Of course Scott isn’t a scientist, and couldn’t get a peer-reviewed paper on climate science published if his life depended on it. But some of his high-paid political consultants need to remind him that he is governor of the whole damn state. And he has to set policy on many matters that have a scientific basis. Scott has no scientific grounding in beach renourishment or flood mitigation or the care of reefs either, but he’s setting policy and overseeing spending in these areas. He can’t just keep bobbing and weaving around this one and expect to maintain credibility.

While Scott was mum after the Tuesday tutorial, the professors weren’t. “There was in fact no acknowledgement of the seriousness of the issue,” said David Hastings, professor of marine science and chemistry at St. Petersburg’s Eckerd College. “It’s the most serious problem that the state of Florida and the world has,” offered John Van Leer, associate professor of ocean sciences at the University of Miami. All of the professors praised the federal EPA edict that requires states to reduce emission of CO2 by various amounts — Florida is down for 30 percent by 2030.

A coherent and useful conservative response would be that unless a sounder case can be made that the planet is undergoing anything more than the normal climate change that has existed as long as there has been a planet, and, more importantly, that anything could be done about the planet’s climate even if it is going off the rails, then the seriousness of the issue is political: Leftists using faux science and a gullible media to advance the agenda they’ve always had.

Scott isn’t the only Republican who seems to be baffled, even intimidated by the global warming/climate change hustle. (Even John Boehner is prone to fall back on, “I’m not a scientist.”) They shouldn’t be. Thoughtfully approached, the issue can be an opportunity to be grasped, not a challenge to be feared. There are more holes in the global warming/climate change argument than there were in Dave Kingman’s swing.

If elected officials on the right side of the political equation, Scott included, would spend less time hiding under their desks when the subject of climate change comes up, and familiarize themselves with the very weak evidence this computer-model house of cards is built on, there would be a chance we could head off one of the biggest frauds in the history of the planet.

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About the Author

Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.