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Scientists Give Governor Scott Crash Course In Climate Change

Gina Jordan/WLRN

Scientists from South Florida flew to Tallahassee Tuesday for a 30-minute meeting with Gov. Rick Scott.  They went to explain how and why the climate is changing.

The group tried to convince Scott that climate change is real, and humans are at least partly responsible.

Harold Wanless is a professor of geological science at the University of Miami. He says the sea level is rising fast.

“The high end of the projection by the U.S. government is two feet by 2048 plus three feet from where we are now by 2063 or 2064," Wanless says. "That basically is going to do in all of the barrier islands of the world.”

The federal government wants states to cut a third of their carbon dioxide emissions over the next 15 years. This greenhouse gas, produced through human activities, is heavily blamed for the world’s warming temperatures.

Eckerd College Marine Science professor David Hastings says the governor can make a difference now by leading the effort to reduce or eliminate coal-burning power plants and finding alternatives.

"We’re asking him to develop some solar in the state of Florida. There’s tremendous business opportunities within the sunshine state to develop solar for electricity and heat hot water," Hastings says. "There are some expenses involved, but we’re about to spend $400 million to change the infrastructure” to improve the city of Miami Beach’s drainage system.

Earlier this summer, Scott told reporters he’s ‘not a scientist’ when asked whether he believes in man-made climate change.

“You go to Big Pine Key and you find stumps of pine trees that were living twenty years ago that are now drowned and dead because they’re standing in salt water,” says John Van Leer, an ocean sciences professor at the University of Miami. “When the salt water comes up and you’re walking up to your ankles or knees in it, you don’t have to be very brilliant to understand that sea level is rising.”

The group told the governor there is little doubt among scientists that humans are at least partly to blame for warming temperatures.

Scott didn’t ask any questions when the scientists were finished. He hasn’t said whether he will consider any of their recommendations.