Blocks away from the Florida Capitol today, a group targeting climate-change deniers kicked off what it’s calling “Rick Scott’s Ark Tour.” The NextGen Climate Action Committee has spent more than $3.6 million so far in an attempt to inject climate change as an issue in the Florida governor’s race, according to finance records filed with the state.
Noah’s ark, or what looks just like it, was parked at a meter on a busy Tallahassee street. During the lunch-hour rush here, about two dozen college students were waving signs and handing out T-shirts to passing drivers.
The ark is part of a narrative spun by the NextGen Climate Action Committee, which is part of a national effort by billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer to defeat candidates who fail to act on climate change. At Tallahassee’s Florida tour kickoff, the group played a video with a movie-trailer voiceover saying, after years of denying climate change science, Scott comes up with a plan to flee.
“Rick Scott has built an ark. Will there be room for you?” the voice booms.
When asked about climate change since taking office, Scott has often replied he’s “not a scientist.” Recently, he agreed to meet with several climate scientists who requested to share their knowledge. And today, those same scientists and more followed up with a letter to all state policymakers calling for a clear plan to address the effects of climate change. University of Miami oceanic and atmospheric scientist Ben Kirtman is one of those who signed the letter.
In a 2012 interview with WFSU News, Kirtman said, “I’m sort of a little bit conservative about getting involved in the politics. But at a certain point it’s hard for me to sit back and be quiet when I think we ought to start acting now."
The NextGen “Rick Scott’s Ark Tour” heads next to Gainesville and then a handful of other Florida cities, most of them college towns.