April 23, 2015
With swampy wetlands and alligators as his backdrop, President Barack Obama will use a visit to Florida’s Everglades to warn of the damage that climate change is already inflicting on the nation’s environmental treasures — and to hammer political opponents he says are doing far too little about it.
Obama’s trip to the Everglades on Wednesday, timed to coincide with Earth Day, marks an attempt to connect the dots between theoretical arguments about carbon emissions and real-life implications. With his climate change agenda under attack in Washington and courthouses across the U.S., Obama has sought this week to force Americans to envision a world in which cherished natural wonders fall victim to pollution.
According to CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller, Obama’s Earth Day trip to the Everglades will cover 1,836 miles roundtrip and consume 9,180 gallons of fuel on Air Force One.
In Florida, rising sea levels have allowed salt water to seep inland, threatening drinking water for Floridians and the extraordinary native species and plants that call the Everglades home. Christy Goldfuss of the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality said without stepped-up action, Joshua Tree National Park could soon be treeless and Glacier National Park devoid of glaciers.
“Regardless of the political debate, there are decisions being made in communities in Florida and across this country to make changes to the way they live as a result of climate change,” Goldfuss said.
Those political overtones were impossible to avoid.
Gov. Rick Scott has attracted national attention over his resistance to acknowledging man-made causes of climate change head-on. “I’m not a scientist,” the Republican famously claimed when asked about climate predictions that show Florida to be one of the states most threatened by rising seas and stronger storms.
Yet it was allegations by some former state employees that Scott’s administration banned them from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” that drew the strongest protest from the White House. Scott has denied any such policy, and on Tuesday he accused Obama of cutting millions in his budget for repair of an aging dike around Florida’s largest freshwater lake.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said denying the reality of climate change constituted failure of leadership and a grave disservice to future generations. He said Obama’s commitment to the Everglades measures up well compared to a governor who “has outlawed employees in the State of Florida from even uttering the word ‘climate change.’”
“It’s a little rich for someone who has made that declaration that somehow the president has not been sufficiently committed to defending the Everglades from the causes of climate change,” Earnest said.
Ahead of Obama’s visit, Scott sought to put the blame on Washington and Obama in particular for leaving the state on the hook for the Everglades’ repair, even though it’s Congress — not Obama — who controls the federal purse strings.
More at CBS DC
Disclaimer: This was not written by Lorra B.