TAMPA — After a meeting with climate scientists to talk about global warming, Gov. Rick Scott still won’t say whether he accepts the conclusions of science about human activity and climate change.
Instead, Scott says he wants to focus “not (on) causation so much as solutions.”
Asked whether that means limiting emissions of carbon from burning fossil fuels, which scientists say contributes to climate change, Scott said only that he has “asked everybody to come forward with ... solutions.”
Rather than talking about how to prevent global warming, Scott talked about his proposals for environmental spending and criticized former Gov. Charlie Crist, his likely Democratic opponent.
Scott made the comments in response to reporters’ questions after an appearance in Brandon on Wednesday to talk about transportation initiatives.
Asked whether he now believes human activity is related to climate change, Scott replied, “I had a real good meeting (Tuesday) with some scientists who came out to talk about global warming. I listened to their presentation. What I want to talk to you about is not causation so much as solutions. I’m a solutions person.”
Scott then talked about an environmental spending proposal he unveiled in campaign stops recently that would include spending $1 billion over the next 10 years on alternative sources of drinking water and restoration of Florida’s springs, which experts say are badly polluted.
He also mentioned spending for adding sand to eroded beaches, “$350 million on flood mitigation,” and “$100 million to protect our reefs.”
“Charlie Crist didn’t invest a dime,” he said.
Asked whether he would take any steps to reduce carbon emissions, Scott said, “What I’ve asked everybody to come forward with is any solutions. We’ve got to continue to make sure we have the most pristine environment in the world.”
Asked whether accepts what the scientists told him, he said, “I‘m not an expert on this ... I’m not qualified on the 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. Let’s focus on how we solve it.”
“I’m very appreciative of these scientists,” Scott said when asked whether the changed his thinking on the issue. “They’re like a lot of people. They’re concerned about our future, and so they came forward with ideas. I’m looking for solutions. ... We know that Charlie Crist failed us on the environment. He didn’t focus on these things,”
Crist, when he initially took office as governor in 2006, then a Republican, angered many in his party by proposing a state initiative targeting climate change and hosting a conference on the subject with former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Crist at the time played the issue down in the face of Republican opposition, rising gas prices and the national economic recession, but created a state energy and climate commission, backed standards for lower emissions from automobiles, and opposed construction of coal-fueled power plants.
Scott, who ran as an anti-regulation tea party champion, has overseen deep funding cuts for the state Department of Environmental Protection and water management districts, which regulate water use, and signed legislation abolishing the state Department of Community Affairs, which oversaw growth management.
Scott met Tuesday with five scientists from Florida universities who had sought him out to communicate what they said is their urgent concern about the warming climate and Florida’s extreme vulnerability to the resulting rise in sea levels.
They said afterward they weren’t sure whether they’d had any impact.
Audio of Scott’s comments