Gov. Rick Scott enabled Irma’s Fury through Climate Denialism & Should Resign

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Florida Gov. Rick Scott did not cause Irma, but he enabled the Frankenstorm. Before becoming governor in 2011, Scott had been an entrepreneur who “ specialized in privatizing healthcare and ran a hospital chain convicted of a massive healthcare fraud.”

Scott met with Carbonmongers Charles and David Koch soon after being elected, and all of a sudden Florida’s environmental laws began being gutted.

Now he will want you to give him $150 billion to rebuild his state, from your tax dollars. He and his ilk argue that it is less expensive to deal with a changing climate than to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Scott enabled Irma’s unusual severity by opposing measures to reduce carbon emissions. He even started replying to climate change questions by saying “I’m not a scientist.” I’m not a scientist either but I took eighth grade chemistry and know what a greenhouse gas is.

Scott opposed a high speed train in central Florida, which would have cut down on automobile use and forestalled thousands of tons of CO2 emissions.

Scott told Florida state employees not to use the term climate change. That included scientists working for the state. Our current head of the anti-EPA, Scott Pruitt, has taken over that Scott policy and applied it to the entire Federal government. Pruitt thinks it is disrespectful to the victims of Harvey and Irma to talk about climate change. Actually it is disrespectful to the victims to victimize them with carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

Scott backed measures that punished Floridians of all people for having solar panels on their roofs. Florida is like Disneyworld for solar power. Scott’s Neanderthal policy was overturned by a popular referendum only last year.

Instead, In 2015, Florida sued the Federal government along with 23 other states “over a plan to reduce carbon emissions nationally, claiming the law will increase electric rates.” Yeah, right, because free sunshine and wind are more expensive than pricey coal and natural gas.

Scott has been a creature of Big Oil, covered in liquid tar, like a monster hiding out in a swamp, and the fumes he has put off have summoned Irma.

Florida emits 227,000,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, over 4% of the US national output. It therefore played a role in making Irma into an incredible Hulk. And Scott has prevented emissions reductions for 6 years straight. And remember that he has had a national impact through influence on other governors and his suit against President Obama. Scott’s contribution to the destructiveness of this storm is relatively small, but it actually is large enough to be quantified, and since he is helping wreck a whole planet, that simple fact is terrifying.

Manmade climate change does not cause hurricanes. Hurricanes form naturally over warm water. The warmer the water, the stronger the hurricane. There were hurricanes before 1750, when human beings decided to burn so much wood and coal (and later, oil and natural gas) that they would turn the whole world tropical.

What human beings have done is to magnify hurricanes. By driving our cars, cooling and heating our homes, making cement, and industrializing our agriculture, we have put billions and billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. We have sort of acted on the climate the way radioactivity works on Dr. Bruce Banner (nowadays played by Mark Ruffalo), turning him into a large, green, angry incredible Hulk.

Putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere prevents the sun’s heat from radiating away back into space once it strikes the earth. Keeping the heat in causes the average surface temperature to rise over time. The oceans are a degree F warmer than the 20th century average.

Hotter water has some basic properties. It expands, so the sea level rises for that reason. But surface ice over land also melts and runs into the sea, which also raises the sea level. The Caribbean is a good half foot higher now than a century ago.

Higher seas lead to higher storm surges. Irma’s storm surges may be as high as 12 feet, or even 20.

Hotter water also evaporates at a faster rate, putting more moisture into the atmosphere. There is 4% more moisture in the air over the Caribbean than there was a century ago. More moisture in the air means heavier rains and more flooding during storms.

How fast and destructive the winds of a hurricane are depends on how hot the water is, over which it travels. Hotter water produces more severe winds. The Caribbean waters are unusually hot, hence Irma’s sustained 185 mile an hour winds, which are unprecedented in the historical record at that speed for their longevity.

Rick Scott should resign. He helped empty out his state. You wouldn’t call that being a good governor.


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19 Responses

  1. “Instead, In 2015, Florida sued the Federal government along with 23 other states “over a plan to reduce carbon emissions nationally, claiming the law will increase electric rates.” Yeah, right, because free sunshine and wind are more expensive than pricey coal and natural gas.”

    I thought these guys believed in the free market. Put the two out on the free market and let the cheaper one win. Oh, but…

  2. When grifters like Rick Scott get elected to public office it’s because Florida voters BE STUPID and no other reason.

    Electing official climate-deniers has serious, perhaps deserved, consequences.

    Florida, take a lesson.

    • When grifters get elected by running on the principles of Polemarchus, who told Socrates 2400 years ago that justice meant doing good to one’s “friends” and harm to one’s “enemies”, those voters have a very particular idea of what color the friends are and what color the enemies are. They think that a grifter can do a better job of getting away with it, because they still fear that their enemies can disrupt their lives if they understand that they are being harmed.

      Now in reality, the grifters may have an idea of friends and enemies based on class instead of caste, but they know where the votes are. As Aristotle said a century after Polemarchus, “unequals want to be equals and equals want to be unequals.” Note that Athens’ democracy had been caused by a class revolution and was eventually undone by a coup by the rich.

      • Although it is doubtful many Floridians have ever heard of Polemarchus (unless he is on FAUXNews) or read much Socrates but to your point, Gov. Scott is a VERY white grifter who appeals to the STUPIDS in Florida.

        Got it.

  3. I agree with every point. I think that the biggest crime is when elected politicians won’t admit that they were wrong. That the scientists are right and the warming planet is causing changes in our world, and many of the changes will not be good for our current way of thinking or living. Their divisive denialism was one thing, but to ignore reality that is looking you straight in the face is unconscionable.

  4. Shame seems to be unknown to such characters. I suppose it was always so.

    That doesn’t mean they cannot be called out loudly in public.

    All they would be motivated to do is initiate legislation against the malcontents, but action would add to the momentum of the resistance and be a net positive.

    These issues need to brought into the open and the Truth shown for what it is.

    People will at some point come to understand the depths of their duplicity and change become possible.

  5. Scott and der Reichspräsident are on the same page concerning climate change, and I’m about to step out onto a logical highwire without a net.

    It occurs to me that Herr Strumpf (a lovely German word – look it up) does not have to pursue pro-Russian policies for Putin’s meddling in the 2016 election to be vindicated. He only has to be, as Putin must have expected, incompetent. He can wreck the United States as effectively by being a hapless boob as by being Putin’s puppet. Who knows – maybe more so.

  6. Rush Limbaugh called Hurricane Irma a liberal plot – before he himself evacuated the state. It sure would be nice if some media folks would ask Governor Scott whether he agreed with Rush Limbaugh’s assessment…

  7. Why this empty-headed criminal isn’t in prison is a testament to how the “capture” of greedy politicians by special interests has allowed white-collar criminals to go unpunished. Scott is a moron and doesn’t understand basic physics and earth science that most eighth-graders know.

  8. Governor Scott’s attitude however is not uncommon, it is in fact a consequence of generally accepted liberal capitalism which not only has no respect for the earth, land, seas, air, life, or any part of her including most of humanity, but regards it all as some kind of limitless asset with WASPs the divinely appointed asset strippers. Of course it’s sensible to be conscious of carbon in the atmosphere and attempt to lessen it but even that arises from an innate confidence that Nature may still be brought under some control, by Mankind. No wonder the world’s ‘most powerful man’ has established himself the other side of the looking glass, it’s where much of humanity has already migrated. Look at the branch above you head, said the Gnat, and there you will see a snap-dragon-fly. Its body is made of plumb-pudding, its wings are holly leaves, and its head is a raisin burning in brandy. It’s a world, you recall, where if you wish to advance to a particular destination, you do so by walking in the opposite direction, just like you stop wars by pouring soldiers and weapons into them.

  9. Scott is a moron and doesn’t understand basic physics and earth science that most eighth-graders know.

    Yes— amazing how “moron” has become a synonym for “Republican”, isn’t it?

  10. What are the names of the individuals who enabled the fury of past hurricanes?

    • Well the Rockefellers and the British upper crust invested in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (now BP) played a big role but arguably did not understand what they were doing. As of the 70s all the upper management of Big Oil, Gas and Coal are culpable, guilty of massive deliberate environmental devastation and of cover-up and fraud.

      • Since the late 50’s. I saw the, then old, science film by the oil company, Mobil I think, in school in the 70’s and they talk about man made global warming. It is really just basic grade school chemistry and some math on what we spew.

  11. There’s an old joke:
    Q: Your roof is leaking badly – why don’t you fix it?
    A: It’s raining!
    Q: Well, why don’t you fix it after it stops raining?
    A: Well, then it’s not leaking…

    Plus, too many decision makers treat the economy as a Ponzi scheme, claiming that a constantly expanding population means economic growth. Pity the the physical laws of the universe, such as the law of conservation of mass/energy, conflict with this belief.

    These two memes explain Florida – expanding development means economic growth, but justifying that growth means ignoring any problems until they’re actually occurring, and then addressing the emergency itself. Once the emergency’s over, go back to ignoring the underlying problem.

  12. :

    Taking the concept of chutzpah to a new level, Florida Governor Scott has even assailed Florida hospitals for “price gouging”. Everyone recalls that Gov. Scott is a billionaire businessman who formerly was the infamous CEO of Columbia/HCA. Columbia/HCA was fined $1.7 billion for falsified patient billing and giving kickbacks to doctors, perpetrating the largest Medicare fraud in the entire history of the Medicare program. During the investigation, Scott testified that he was “unaware” of HCA’ price gouging’ while CEO.

    The basic problem is not price gouging, but rather Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s efforts to lead this state to abandon the poor. It’s outrageous that Gov. Scott and his Republican supporters have joined other Republican state governors and legislators in refusing to provide coverage to low-income adults, even though the Affordable Care Act authorizes the federal government to pay most of the cost of this expansion in the Medicaid program.

    Hospital and health cost issues in Florida are problematic because Florida has a very high percentage of its citizens uninsured, and an even larger number under-insured, with a sharp disconnect between public need and the political/social will to change things . Republican obstructionism promotes inaction of the electorate, who in Florida suffer from a combination of being uniformed or misinformed and unable to advocate effectively for policies that would benefit all.

  13. Most of this case against Scott with respect to Irma’s effect on Florida could also be made against Greg Abbott with respect to Harvey’s effect on Texas. They are two peas in a really rotten pod.

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