Monday, May 12, 2014

Rubio's Opportunistic Denial of Climate Change is both Ignorant and Shameful

On Sunday May 11, Marco Rubio the Republican senator from Florida said that he does not believe that humans are causing climate change, nor does he believe that lawmakers can do anything about it.

Given the state he represents, it is hard to understand how Rubio can deny the veracity of climate change. Climate change is destined to hit Florida harder than most states in the future and its effects are already being felt in that state today. This is what makes Rubio's climate denial so utterly ignorant. It is not only anti-science, Rubio's statements defy common sense.

The National Climate Assessment has named Miami as the city which is the most vulnerable to damage from rising sea levels. While a Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact paper warned that water in the area could rise by as much as two feet by the year 2060.

Despite the scientific evidence Rubio said, "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it," Rubio said, according to ABC This Week, "and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy."

While Rubio gives the impression of being concerned about the economy he ignores the far greater costs associated with doing nothing to manage climate change. The cost of sea level rises alone is thought to be around two trillion dollars and the cost of biodiversity loss is estimated to be more than two trillion.

One of the most costly elements of climate change takes the form of extreme weather. According to a study released by the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and UNEP Finance Initiative, global environmental damage caused by human activity in 2008 represented a monetary value of $ 6.6 trillion, equivalent to 11 percent of global GDP.  To put these numbers into perspective, these costs are 20 percent larger than the $ 5.4 trillion decline in the value of pension funds in developed countries caused by the global financial crisis in 2007/8.

While the cost of climate change is already staggering it is destined to get far worse. Some have estimated that in the last two years alone, delays in engaging climate change have cost us $8 trillion. The longer we wait the higher the price tag. The IEA says that climate change will cost $115 trillion by 2050. 

Rubio was not always a climate Luddite, when he was leader of the Florida House in 2008 he helped to craft a law capping carbon emissions. The inference that can be drawn from his change of direction is that he is now using the issue of climate change for partisan political purposes.

When you consider what is at stake, Rubio's political opportunism is unconscionable both for the state and the nation.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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