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Cole writes: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott did not cause Irma, but he enabled the Frankenstorm."

Rick Scott. (photo: AP)
Rick Scott. (photo: AP)

Governor Rick Scott Enabled Irma's Fury Through Climate Denialism and Should Resign

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

10 September 17


lorida 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. your social media marketing partner


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+36 # apotem 2017-09-10 10:05
Let him ask Koch brothers to foot the bill. 150 billion is a small change for them.
+15 # economagic 2017-09-10 10:44
Dang! Mr. Coles grasp of the science is pretty good for a journalist--or for anyone not in the science business. Perhaps he should consider giving classes or seminars for his colleagues.
-71 # brycenuc 2017-09-10 11:11
If Rick Scott had followed the global warming recommendations he would have not affected climate change (aka global warming) one iota and he would have reduced the states wealth, making it much less able to cope with IRMA. The one thing Trump is right about is that man-caused global warming is a fraud.
+19 # dquandle 2017-09-10 17:52
because nothing increases a state's wealth like paying for $150 billion worth of damageso do that. In a just world, or even one with a decent sense of irony, the storm would obliterate Mar a Lago along with its owner
+12 # Elroys 2017-09-11 17:36
In a just world Scott would be thrown in the garbage along with the Kochs, Trump, Pruitt, Perry, Tillerson, Mnuchin and the rest of the scumlords screwing humanity, diminishing our children's future and destroying the natural world on which all life depends. These people are nothing more than criminals, murderers who got rich by screwing people and planet for the sake of short term profits at ALL costs. These bastards make money by destroying life. A just world?
And then there are those (like brycenuc and "skylinefirepes t") who are either joking (doubtful) or are among those still dragging their knuckles on the ground.
-4 # Kootenay Coyote 2017-09-10 20:39
Oooh! Watch the pigs fly!!
+13 # Texas Aggie 2017-09-11 07:02
Well, he just reduced the state's wealth by a whole lot by refusing to do anything to prevent damage. As you know, developing coast lines by destroying wet lands is really stupid because it removes land that would have absorbed the water and it removes marshes that would have dampened the storm surge. It also puts a lot more people in harm's way. Scott did all of these things.

And that isn't even mentioning the way he has trampled on people who want to put in solar panels. That is unquestionably immoral on any measure of the term.
+26 # VoxFox 2017-09-10 11:13
This is the HARD lessons so many Americans needed; do NOT insult Mother Nature.
+5 # kgrad 2017-09-12 15:16
Quoting VoxFox:
This is the HARD lessons so many Americans needed; do NOT insult Mother Nature.

What's more, stop the fracking industry's rape of the earth. It is a crime.
+25 # neis 2017-09-10 11:50
There was a time when, if a person could be shown to 1.) be severely divorced from reality, and 2.) be a threat to self and others, that s/he could be involuntarily committed for 48 hours for psychiatric evaluation to determine if s/he was certifiably insane.
So, you might not get him to resign, but perhaps there is another approach to take.
-10 # Depressionborn 2017-09-11 15:47
Re: involuntarily committed
not enough room for the loony left warmer nut cakes. Otherwise ok by me. The warmers sure make a lot of noise. involuntarily committed, yep
+13 # chapdrum 2017-09-10 12:42
Have not heard word one from the "governor" re Irma. As expected.
-50 # skylinefirepest 2017-09-10 13:55
From what I have read in the liberal media Gov. Scott has made a tremendous effort to keep his people safe. Much more than I can say about the liberal mayor of New Orleans...remem ber that one, y'all??
+9 # Texas Aggie 2017-09-11 07:10
Today's word on A.Word.A.Day was whataboutary. The above is a perfect example.

And you will notice that Scott didn't do diddly about getting people out. All he did was tell them to leave. As for New Orleans, he told them, but there was no way that they could do it. You will notice that a lot of people got left behind in Florida as well.

But the worst part is that before Irma ever came along, Scott did everything in his power to make the situation worse when it did come. He developed wet lands that would have absorbed some of the water and he developed coast line to put people in harm's way and remove the barriers that would have reduced the storm surges. His whole program was built around the idea that as long as you keep your eyes closed, the boogymen won't see you.
+15 # dstroh 2017-09-10 17:13
With super storm after super storm, Harvey Irma, Jose and so on, its criminal not to be talking and acting on climate change. Shame on Rick Scott.
+4 # diamondmarge7 2017-09-10 19:13
Brilliant idea by the writer. Cole should investigate who he knows in FL-who would be willing to get a petition going--Cole should also talk to Mckibben& others in to see what/how such a petition/action could get going. Koch&Trump&othe r deniers--who put their filthy profits before TheOnlyPlanetWe AreGoingToLiveO n--the Kochs surely have ENOUGH $$$ w/o ruing Earth for the rest of us.
+3 # Buddha 2017-09-11 09:25
Stop taxpayer subsidization of flood insurance for hurricanes, and let the "free market", who sure as heck knows the risks to the last decimal point, determine the cost to insure someone's beachfront property in Florida or Louisiana or Texas. Take that money we save and more strongly subsidize earthquake insurance for us here in California, at least we believe in plate tectonics.
+3 # ChrisCurrie 2017-09-11 10:45
It can also be argued that the Florida voters who put Mr. Scott in office (repeatedly) are to some extent "getting what they deserve."
+1 # rogerhgreen 2017-09-11 18:41
I agree with all these brickbats aimed at the idiot Republican governor of Florida. But look at it this way: There are too damn many people in Florida for its ecology to support, too much development, too much water use for one thing. Maybe an increase in really bad hurricanes will drive some of them out and prevent others from going there. Overpopulation is of course the fundamental world ecological problem, and that is especially true of Florida's fragile environment. There are too damn many people and it's getting worse. It doesn't help that there are too many development-at- any-cost right-wing idiots who elect right-wing idiots - that doesn't help of course.
+1 # diamondmarge7 2017-09-13 18:46
I think Cole's idea is BRILLIANT.

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