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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Florida governor Rick Scott (R) ripped a page from Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) science-denying playbook on Tuesday, when he dodged a question on climate change by insisting “I’m not a scientist.”

As Marc Caputo reports in The Miami Herald, the latest example of Scott’s climate-change trutherism came during a question-and-answer session in Miami:

Q: Do you believe man-made climate change is significantly affecting the weather, the climate?

Scott: “Well, I’m not a scientist. But let’s talk about what we’ve done. Through our Division of Emergency Management — the last few years, three years – we put about, I think, $120 million to deal with flooding around our coast. We also put a lot of money into our natural treasures, the Everglades, trying to make sure all the water flows south. So we’re dealing with all the issues we can. But I’m not a scientist.”

Q: In 2011 or 2010, you were much more doubtful about climate change. Now you’re sounding less doubtful about man-made climate change because now you’re not saying ‘Look, I doubt the science.’ Now you’re saying: ‘I’m not a scientist.’ Am I right in guessing that?

Scott: “Well, I’m not a scientist. But I can tell you what we’ve accomplished. We put a lot of effort into making sure that we take care of our natural treasures – the Everglades, making sure water flows south, any flooding around our coast. So we’re doing the right thing.”

Question (asked by citizen-activist): So do you believe in the man-made influence on climate change?

Scott: “Nice seeing you guys.”

The governor’s dodge is a rather weak case for refusing to fully confront Florida’s looming environmental crisis. After all, Scott is also not an expert in election law, but that didn’t stop him from illegally attempting to purge Florida’s voter rolls.

If Scott is interested in the opinion of actual scientists on the matter, however, they have been very clear that the climate is warming, likely due to human activities.

Scott’s response is nearly a carbon copy of the one offered by Senator Rubio in 2012, when he infamously responded to a question on the age of the Earth by telling GQ reporter Michael Hainey “I’m not a scientist, man.” Rubio has since devolved on the issue, going from refusing to engage with science to flatly denying it.

Scott’s has moved in the opposite direction. Although he now refuses to discuss science, during his first gubernatorial campaign in 2010 Scott proudly stated that he does not believe in climate change.

The governor’s attempt to sidestep questions on the topic will likely resurface during his re-election campaign. Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer has named Scott as one of the top targets of his $100 million campaign to boot climate-change truthers from office in November, and Scott’s awkward answer seems tailor-made for an attack ad.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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