DeSantis accused of ‘catastrophic’ climate approach after campaign launch

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Ron DeSantis has been accused of a ‘catastrophic’ approach to the climate crisis after kicking off his campaign for US president by saying he rejects the ‘politicization of the weather’ and wondering if the hurricanes hitting his state of origin, Florida, have been aggravated by climate change. .

DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida who announced his bid for the White House on Wednesday via a glitch-laden Twitter feed, has previously dismissed concerns about global heating as “leftist stuff” and he expanded on that theme during a Fox News interview after his campaign. launch.

“People tried to say when we had [Hurricane] Ian that it was because of climate change, but if you look at the first 60 years from 1900 to 1960, we had more major hurricanes hitting Florida than the 60 years that followed,” DeSantis said his interlocutor, former Republican congressman Trey Gowdy.

“It’s something that’s part of life in the sunshine state. I’ve always rejected the politicization of the weather.

Climatologists have said that while it is true that hurricanes have not become much more frequent due to climate change, there is good evidence that warming of the ocean, now at record levels, as well as the atmosphere cause storms to rapidly intensify and become more powerful.

A study following Hurricane Ian, which pulverized roads and buildings in Florida last year causing $112 billion in damage and about 150 total deaths in the United States, found that climate change worsened the storm’s extreme rainfall by about 10%.

Michael Mann, a climatologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said DeSantis’ position on climate science is a “classic projection.”

“It was Ron DeSantis who engaged in the ‘politicization of the weather’ by denying basic, established science – the intensification of tropical storms with human-caused warming of the oceans.”

Mann added that DeSantis has favored fossil fuel interests over those of Florida, a state extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels and more powerful storms that “have been directly endangered by the devastating consequences of the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting warming of our planet”.

Environmental groups have also targeted DeSantis for a climate record they say is no better than Donald Trump, his rival for the Republican presidential nomination.

While governor, DeSantis passed bills banning Florida cities from adopting 100% clean energy goals and banning the state pension fund from making investment decisions that take into account of the climate crisis because of what he called a corporate attempt to “impose an ideological agenda on the American people. ”. He also attacked the US military for being “woken up” for warning of national security risks posed by climate impacts.

“The cost of bringing his anti-climate record to the national stage as president would be catastrophic,” said Pete Maysmith, senior vice president of campaigns for the League of Conservation Voters. “DeSantis has already made it clear that he will unleash his war on climate science, clean energy jobs, and strong anti-pollution guarantees for clean air and clean water.”

In his run for Congress and for the Florida Governor’s mansion, DeSantis received more than $1 million in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry, with his campaign committee receiving $2 million last year. of the Club for Growth, a conservative organization that successfully lobbied for the United States to withdraw from the Paris climate accord when Trump was president.

“We need fossil fuels,” DeSantis said at an event in March. “You can’t get rid of it unless you want to pay a lot more for energy.”

However, the governor’s supporters say he has forged a strong environmental credentials in Florida, signing bills to bolster the state’s resilience to rising sea levels and pledging billions. dollars to restore the struggling Everglades, which have been besieged by agricultural development and, increasingly, climate change.

That record could have been the basis for a pragmatic alternative to Trump and helped woo voters increasingly alarmed by rising temperatures, according to Bob Inglis, a former Republican congressman who now advocates for a conservative response to the climate crisis.

“He did things in Florida designed to solve the problem of climate change, he could have been the successful post-Trump governor, the problem-solver,” Inglis said.

“But instead he’s choosing to be more of an anti-revival warrior than Trump. He’s kicking him in the Trump lane, which is really a terrible mistake. I’m hearing Florida Republicans ‘why is he choosing this way ?’

“He could have said, ‘Hey, we’re dealing with this climate issue in Florida, leading the world on this. Instead, he’s trying to outplay Trump.”

Inglis said that while some senior Republicans worry about losing a younger generation of climate-conscious voters, they still risk being beaten in primary races by candidates who support Trump’s continued embrace of the climate denial.

“People like (Speaker of the House of Representatives) Kevin McCarthy know that young conservatives want action on climate change and even if Trump wins, he will be a lame duck by 2026 and the party could start moving forward. ‘here,’ Inglis said.

“The problem is that the scientists say we don’t have time to wait for that. That’s really the problem.

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