In latest sign of evolution, Rick Scott deems climate change ‘an important issue’
Rick Scott. Image via AP.

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The Senator was once skeptical that the term was valid or should be used. Times have changed.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott used to battle with reporters over the semantics of the term “climate change,” but he now believes it’s an “important issue.”

During an interview on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria,” the Florida Senator was complaining about the Senate Budget Committee when he offered the latest seeming endorsement of the idea that human beings’ actions are heating the planet.

“We talked about climate change,” Scott said by way of describing the meetings the panel had this year. “It’s an important issue, but we didn’t talk about the budget, right?”

Scott has become comfortable with the term “climate change” in recent years, but that wasn’t always the case, specifically during his eight years as Florida Governor.

The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR) notes that in 2015, there were allegations from former state officials that “climate change” and other related terms were banned in the Executive Office of the Governor.

“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Office of General Counsel until 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

Others corroborated Byrd’s claim that “climate change” and “global warming” were forbidden, including staffers in Tallahassee and workers throughout the state.

While Scott’s own staff claimed there was “no policy” on this in response to reporters’ inquiries at the time, the FCIR report noted that the term had been stripped from environmental reports in favor of phrasings like “climate drivers” and “climate-driven changes.” Other anecdotes reinforced the strong impression that the phrases were rejected by the administration at the time.

“Sea-level rise” eventually became permitted, Reuters notes, though “coastal resiliency” was the preferred euphemism for that for some time.

Other documents, such as one from the DEP, alluded to the concept.

“Both natural and anthropogenic (man-made) processes contribute to changes in global weather patterns such as temperature, rainfall, snowfall and wind,” read the agency’s website during the Scott era.

“These changes have been observed throughout earth’s history, but with the onset of the industrial revolution and the human population explosion, increases in the intensity of climate changes associated with human activities have been reported with growing frequency.”

However, Scott as Governor was coy about the phrase when asked directly, choosing non-answers like “I’m not a scientist” through much of his time in Tallahassee. He paid for that in the 2018 campaign, with Democrats pressing the case that he was a “denier” of climate change with investments in companies opposed to anti-pollution regulations.

Since going to the Senate, Scott has gotten more comfortable with the phrasing itself. He said “climate change is real” in 2019, during a floor speech blasting the so-called Green New Deal. An NPR interview from 2021 found him using the phrase “impacts of climate change” a few times.

But the evolution was years in the making.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


11 comments

  • WhatNow

    August 29, 2023 at 9:26 am

    Too little too late. Duh…

  • Ocean Joe

    August 29, 2023 at 9:33 am

    Too little, too late.
    The GOP has blocked climate policy for decades as puppets of big oil. They are the only right wing party on the planet that considers climate a hoax despite the fact even a majority of Republican voters are concerned about it.
    Insurance companies weigh the risk brought on by a warming planet to pull out of Florida while our governor, and Scott who are both highly intelligent and know better, play a game to appeal to their base and ESD nonsense.
    They protect the unborn but refuse to protect the planet those babies will inherit.

  • Earl Pitts "The Real Mayor Of Real-Ville" American

    August 29, 2023 at 10:30 am

    Good mornting America,
    Welp finally Rick’s gone full blown RINO. Everyone sadly watched “Little Rickey” get absorbed by “The Swamp” 3 minutes after his private jet touched down in DC for the first time after The Great State of Florida’s citizens elected “Little Rickey”.
    However I, Earl Pitts American, have been thinking of slowing down my active lifestyle and retireing to a much less demanding life as “The Florida Senator That Took Rick Scott’s Senate Seat”.
    Think about it Florida, its time for an upgrade, the Swamp, has your “Little Rickey” by his “Short Curleys” and sadly he’s too far gone for even me, Earl Pitts American, to rehabilate him. Sad but true.
    So look for my, Earl Pitts “Your Man In DC” American’s long awaited press release that I will be taking “Little Rickey’s” Senate Seat. My genious campagne slogan will be “Enough Is Enough”.
    Early polling results indicate that I have a 98% chance of unseating “Little Rickey”.
    Thank you in advance for electing me Good Citizens of Florida,
    Earl Pitts “Florida’s Next Senator” American

    *FYI Scott has been begging me to allow him the easy out of tendering his resignation rather than faceing the humillitating “Powerhouse Steamroller Beat-Down” of engaging in a “Fist-a-Cuffs Knock-Down-Drag-Out-Cage-Match-Winner-Take-All” campaign with me, Earl Pitts American. I, Earl Pitts American, am taking his resignation request under consideration.*
    Earl Pitts ” The Big Voice On The Right” American

    • Earl Pitts is a Pedophile

      August 29, 2023 at 12:24 pm

      Hi Earl, please kindly do the world a favor and put a shotgun in your mouth and pull the trigger.

      • Lucas in Texas Yehaw

        August 29, 2023 at 1:27 pm

        I like you!

        • Earl Pitts is a Pedophile

          August 29, 2023 at 4:48 pm

          It’s not even about politics.
          Earl is a convicted pedophile.

          Designation:Sexual Offender
          Name:EARL W PITTS III
          Status:Released – Subject to Registration
          Dept of Corrections #:V38476
          Date of Birth:09/18/1982
          Race:White
          Sex:Male
          Hair:Brown
          Eyes:Hazel
          Height:6’00”
          Weight:252 lbs

          04/03/2019 Lewd, Lascivious batt sex w/victim 12-15 years old; F.S. 800.04(4)(a)

      • Earl Pitts is a Bit

        August 31, 2023 at 6:53 am

        Why do you let this guy live rent free in your head? Again and again I read his comedic diatribes, and again and again you go all “kill yourself” on him. Earl Pitts is a bit! He’s probably a 26-yo joker in his mom’s Florida room having a play with your emotions! I’m a dook-for-brains leftist and I giggle every time he curls up at DeSantis’ virtual feet and makes ham-fisted fun of people like me. Earl Pitts is just Florida Politics’ Larry the Cable Guy. He’s a comedian winding you up, stop treating him like a player.

  • Lucas in Texas Yehaw

    August 29, 2023 at 1:28 pm

    I just don’t understand why Scott’s Medicare scam doesn’t get more press.

  • Transitive Property

    August 29, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    The guy that made using the words “climate change” in any internal documents in Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection a firing offence finally thinks there might be something there? Please vote this clown out of office. Let him go back to running the worst hospitals in the state.

  • Richard Russell

    August 29, 2023 at 1:53 pm

    This guy is a big business Republican throw back to the 60’s. But Climate Change is Bullshit. For Millions of years the earth has evolved, heating and cooling. When they say it’s the hottest in 100 years. Wow, that’s amazing considering the earth is a least 7 Billion years old.
    The Climate maniacs are either realize its BS and are profiting from the BS Climate Change propaganda or they are shills who believe all the hysteria. Of course the profiteers know no one will be able to dispute their claims since no one will be alive when their predictions should come to pass or will they, Al Gore or Greta what’s her name, etc. etc. Stop paving over all of the pervious areas and it will be amazing how fast the rain water will soak into the ground; not run off in torrents and flood everything! On the Southwest coast of Florida in an area that has not been paved over, the sea level, which is the SAME as on the East Coast (ie Miami Beach) has not noticably risen in the 43 years I’ve lived in Southwest Florida.

    • I.C. Ages

      August 30, 2023 at 9:18 am

      The terrestrial climate has generally been warming for at least 10,000 years, It cycles back and forth. A sharp rise in global temperatures a thousand years ago is one of the reasons why the North Atlantic culture prospered. In the past century or so we have gone through periods of cooling. One was called “The Little Ice Age.” You can find Native American artifacts in the seabed 25 miles off the west Florida coast. Parts of Ohio used to be covered in glaciers. Climate panickers: Get Over It!

Comments are closed.


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