Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Scott Warming to Scientists

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Scott Warming to Scientists

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE

With the environment taking a larger role in this year's election, Gov. Rick Scott is scheduled to meet with university scientists today for the first time about climate change and its impact on Florida.

The half-hour meeting, set for late this afternoon, is the result of a letter from 10 prominent oceanographers and other scientists from major Florida universities who asked to talk with Scott after the governor repeatedly told reporters he was "not a scientist" when asked for his position on climate change.

"We are scientists and we would like the opportunity to explain what is at stake for our state," the July 15 letter said. "In short, Florida is one of the most vulnerable places in the country with respect to climate change, with southeastern Florida of particular concern."

Scott, who had previously expressed doubt about manmade climate change, initially balked at meeting with the scientists. His likely Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, seized the opening, meeting with Jeff Chanton, an oceanographer at Florida State University and one of the letter signers.

"I'm not a scientist either but I can use my brain and I can talk to one," Crist said.

Scott's campaign called Crist's impromptu meeting with the scientist a "publicity stunt."

"While Rick Scott has kept his commitments to restoring the Everglades, safeguarding our springs and protecting the Florida Keys, Charlie Crist was more committed to advancing his own political career," Scott's campaign said.

Crist has a mixed record on climate change. After he was initially elected, he hosted a climate change summit and issued a series of executive orders, including one aimed at reducing carbon emissions. But as he was preparing to run for a U.S. Senate seat in 2009, he canceled a climate change summit.

Climate change and the environment have become a key battleground in the governor's race. …

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