Scientist says Florida wasting time debating climate change

By Jessica Floum

Ringling College student Kade Stewart Patrick O’Casey, 16, an illustration major, presented Neil deGrasse Tyson — astrophysicist, host of “Cosmos” and director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City — with a portrait he created of Tyson before Tyson’s Ringling College Library Association lectures Monday, March 23, 2015 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota. (3/23/2015 – Photo by Wendy Dewhurst)

SARASOTA – Renowned scientist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson called Gov. Rick Scott’s ban on official use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming” astonishing and disappointing, and held voters responsible for electing Scott and other like-minded politicians to office.

“I thought as a nation we were better than this,” Tyson said.

People like to blame politicians, he said, but the challenge is educating the electorate.

Speaking Monday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall as part of Ringling College’s Town Hall series, the astrophysicist and cosmologist lauded recent achievements and discoveries in space exploration.

Scientific debate in politics is often misguided, he said.

“When you say let’s debate whether or not humans are influencing the climate, you are losing time for debating what to do in the face of that fact,” Tyson said.

Scott ordered Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials to refrain from using the terms in any official communications and reports, according to former DEP employees and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

Last week, a high-level DEP employee was suspended and told to get a medical evaluation after refusing to remove mentions of climate change from state record.

Florida lawmakers’ time would be better spent figuring out what to do once they realize that climate change is real and that half of Florida will be the first to go under water, Tyson said.

“Now we have a time where people are cherry picking science,” Tyson said. “The science is not political. That’s like repealing gravity because you gained 10 pounds last week.”

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