DNC Chair Criticizes Rubio, Jeb Bush On Global Warming

By  //  April 22, 2015

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

WASHINGTON D.C. — Today is Earth Day, a time to reflect on environmental policies and increase awareness about the effects of climate change.

Two Florida Men Not Celebrating

Today marks the 45th anniversary of our national celebration of Earth Day, and as we begin the campaign that will ultimately elect the 45th President of the United States, it’s important that all Americans understand where the candidates stand on climate change, one of the most pressing issues of our lifetime that left unchecked will irrevocably impact generations to come.

My home state of Florida is particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change. Our coral reefs, our incredible beaches, our fresh water, the Everglades – all are reliant on a healthy and sustainable climate. Indeed, in Florida, there is no separating the health of our economy from the health of our environment.

Sen. Marco Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio

According to international weather experts 2014 was the hottest year on record, and since 1850, 14 of the 15 hottest years all occurred in the 21st century.

Though the facts have clearly coalesced on the side of climate scientists’ warnings, Republican orthodoxy has trended in the opposite direction.

So where are the would-be 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls? Unfortunately just where you’d expect.

Let’s begin with former Florida governor, Jeb Bush. Last week he acknowledged that the climate is changing. But last year when asked if he believed that global warming was primarily man-made, Bush claimed, “I’m a skeptic. I’m not a scientist.” That’s like looking at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and saying, “well, I’m not an oceanographer.”

The Sunshine State’s junior Senator, Marco Rubio, has boldly stated, “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.” Is that what someone would say about the advice of other experts like medical doctors or structural engineers?

Governor Bush and Senator Rubio are just two of the performers in the increasingly circus-like atmosphere of the GOP presidential primary contest who are denying science and burying their heads in the sand. Chris Christie said he wants, “more science” because he’s “a little skeptical about it.” Ted Cruz believes the planet isn’t warming at all. And Scott Walker has barely lifted a finger in Wisconsin. When 97% of climate scientists agree on the causes of climate change, what more do these people want?

I invite any Republican candidate running for president to come to Miami Beach in my congressional district and see what it is like today. Because it won’t stay that way for long if they continue to deny science and do nothing: sea level in the Florida area has risen about 9 inches in the last century alone.

Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush

Because we all share this planet together, addressing climate change should not be a partisan issue. Alas, Republicans continue to treat it that way. Undeterred, Democrats are committed to curbing the effects of climate change, protecting America’s natural resources, and ensuring the quality of our air, water, and land for future generations. By investing in clean-energy to protecting our ecosystems, the Obama administration and Democrats are working to address our biggest environmental challenges, paving the way to a more sustainable America.

And a mix of intrepid local public and private partners have forged ahead in the absence of law from a dysfunctional Congress, showing what is possible with the right amount of civic concern, trust in science, and local know-how. I believe the Southeast Florida Regional Compact’s emphasis on adaptation and mitigation can be a model for other regions around the nation.

Today I’m joining President Obama and hundreds of environmentalists and Floridians at Everglades National Park, lauding the progress we’ve made to protect this unique ecosystem, our incredible River of Grass, while understanding there’s still much more to do protect it and to fight climate change here at home and around the world.

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As the mother of young children, I know that the consequences of inaction could be dire for their future. Earth Day is a time to be thankful for the beautiful environment around us. I can think of no better way to show that appreciation than by doing all we can to leave our children and grandchildren with a planet in better shape than we found it. And in order to marshal the national resources, expertise and will necessary to engage in such an effort, our next President must be someone who respects science, understands humanity’s impact on our surroundings, and isn’t afraid to take bold steps to protect our environment, our economy, and our national security.