Every candidate for political office enjoys, no cherishes, endorsement from popular politicians, especially if they are from the same state. It is a different story though if the politician seeking the highest office in the land is a Republican more indebted to big money donors than they are a popular politician. One may have imagined Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio (FL) would have offered up a, at least, reciprocal acknowledgement to Miami mayor and Cuban immigrant Tomás Pedro Regalado that in accepting his ringing endorsement, he would address climate change threatening the state of Florida. Rubio reciprocated by fundamentally spitting on Regalado’s endorsement on the national stage by denying climate change exists.
There are a couple of lessons for Americans in Rubio’s, and the other Republican hopefuls’ rejection of climate change besides the ingratitude of snubbing a fellow Republican and Floridian who just endorsed him. One lesson is just how incredibly stupid it is for a Republican mayor to endorse a candidate who he likely knew could not care less that the state and people he represents are facing a clear and present catastrophe in rising sea levels due to climate change. Mr. Regalado’s endorsement takes the persistent problem of Republicans voting against their own best interests to a new high; particularly since the sea level just rose an unprecedented 5 inches all along the Atlantic coastline.
The issue of climate change, and rising sea levels, is on the minds of more than just the mayor of Miami. Leading up to the last Republican debate in Florida, 21 mayors penned a letter to Univision and Jake Tapper pleading with them to ask Republican hopefuls, especially the hometown hero Rubio, to accept the consensus on climate change. The letter was concise and pointedly to Rubio; it read,
“We, the 21 undersigned mayors from throughout Florida, are concerned about sea level rise and climate change and the severe impacts it is having on our communities. We are equally concerned that so little attention has been paid to these issues in the presidential debates. It would be unconscionable for these issues of grave concern for the people of Florida to not be addressed in the upcoming debate you will be hosting in the state. In particular, Senator Rubio represents this state and should not be allowed to fail to provide, or side step, substantive answers to these questions.”
This was the second time the mayors appealed to Rubio and asked what his plan was to address it the rising sea level threat to Florida. The 20 mayors were joined by thousands of Florida residents, and a bevy of environmental groups in Florida who are watching their state’s future and economy go literally underwater.
The public and political pressure worked and when it came time for Marco Rubio to reply to a climate change query, he did precisely what the RNC and Koch brothers trained him to do; deny climate change exists. The question that Florida’s residents, Republican mayors, and environmentalists wanted answered was,
“Climate change means rising ocean levels, which in south Florida means flooding, downtown and our neighborhoods. It’s an every day problem in our neighborhoods. As president, will you pledge to do something about it?”
Rubio parroted the exact same reply he gave to another Florida mayor last month, and one he dutifully repeats any time addressing the damage of climate change is the subject. Rubio said,
“The reason the climate is changing is because the climate has always been changing. The climate’s never been the same it’s always changed. I don’t believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. And then, in any case, there is no law that can be passed that would have any effect on climate change. But I can tell you right now I’m not going to destroy our economy.”
First, by his own admission there are “dramatic changes to our climate;” Rubio is as bad a liar as he is a human being. And second, there is incontrovertible data proving that addressing climate change will not destroy the economy; it will have the opposite effect. Also, as a long-time resident and politician from Florida, Rubio knows that some of the leading climate science research he denies is being conducted by “the very academic institutions he has supported, funded, and worked with for more than a decade.”
It is some of those institutions’ research and documentation into why the sea level rose 5 inches within the last year-a-half that should disabuse Rubio of his cocky denial, but Rubio is a Republican and protecting the fossil fuel industry supersedes protecting Florida’s vanishing coastline or economy. Florida is renowned for being one of the most threatened states in the union from the effects of climate change, particularly the rapidly rising sea level that has been “dooming Miami” long before Rubio stood on a Florida stage and denied it is real.
Rubio is wrong when he said the “climate is always changing;” the weather is always changing but the climate is typically stable over thousands of years. It is why another damning report for climate deniers would disabuse intelligent human beings of skepticism about climate warming. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) official assessment of the past winter, every state in the nation had higher than normal temperatures in December, January, and February. Of course, higher temperatures lead to warmer seas that melt glaciers in the dangerously-warming Arctic.
That continued warming trend has, according to another study, caused “the rate of sea level to increase faster than at any time during the 20th Century, or the previous 2,800 years.” The latest study was led by Bob Kopp, a Rutgers University climate scientist, who was joined by nine colleagues from several leading American and global universities. They concluded, unsurprisingly, that “the anomalous 20th-century rise on global warming is the only cause of such a drastic sea level rise.” In fact, to dispute Rubio’s claim that nothing is happening, or that the sea level rise is not man-made, the research revealed that “had humans not been warming the planet, there’s no to very little chance that seas would have risen so much during the last century. Instead of a monumental rise, we would have seen somewhere between a 3 centimeter fall and a 7 centimeter rise;” not 5 inches in the course of a year-and-a-half, and not more than in the past 2,800 years.
As one of the Florida mayors, Cindy Lerner of Pinecrest, appealing to Rubio to acknowledge climate change and accept the scientific consensus said, “Rubio’s denial is really ridiculous, quite frankly.” It may be ridiculous in Lerner’s public remarks, but she was being politically correct. She certainly knows that Marco Rubio is a typically deceitful Republican and fossil fuel acolyte. She had no issue saying last month that “I know that they (Rubio and Bush) know the science we are relying on is legitimate,” and maybe she really expected Rubio to “acknowledge the reality and urgency of climate change” as the 21 mayors demanded. Instead, when asked if he will acknowledge and work to address climate change and protect the state’s residents and economy he represents, Rubio joined the rest of the GOP field and said “Hell No.”
Maybe the good news for the Floridians is that Rubio’s candidacy is floundering, but with South Florida’s proximity to the coast and its porous ground that make it particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, some cities already experiencing unusual high-tide flooding.
Ms. Lerner must be as delusional as the other 20 Florida mayors who actually expected native son Rubio to at least acknowledge climate change. She seems to think that “having a dialogue with whoever looks more likely to end up the nominee, or whoever is the nominee, will help make sure climate change is a part of their platform. And that they understand the need for leadership at the presidential level.”
Look, if a friend, fellow Florida Republican, and successful Cuban immigrant’s political endorsement for his run for the White House failed to move Rubio to at least acknowledge the scientific and reality of climate change, having a dialogue with whomever the Republican nominee will accomplish nothing whatsoever. Lerner already knows that in Florida it is officially forbidden to even utter the words “climate change;” how does she expect a Republican to acknowledge the existence of something they officially forbid scientists and government officials to say out loud?