By Timothy Cama - 04/22/15 06:00 AM EDT
Obama to talk parks, climate in Florida
President Obama is planning to highlight the effects of climate change on national parks in a Wednesday trip to the Everglades in Florida, his top advisers said.
Obama’s Earth Day visit will focus not just on destruction that he says a warming planet is already bringing to parks, but also the economic impacts that come from the changes to parks.
“The Everglades is one of our most unique landscapes, and climate change is putting the treasured ecosystem at risk,” Christy Goldfuss, managing director of the Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters Tuesday. “This is really ground zero.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called the Everglades National Park “one of the most unique, beautiful and environmentally sensitive regions of the country.”
Obama’s remarks Wednesday will also touch on the public health and national security problems that he has recently highlighted as results of climate change and the efforts he has taken and proposed to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet.
“The president is hoping that his visit to the Everglades on Wednesday will prompt and elevate political debate about making climate change a priority,” Earnest said.
“And he hopes to use this visit to illustrate his commitment to public health and fighting carbon pollution and making the case that this is something that has an important impact on our economy, on our national security, and it’s worthy of attention by the nation’s leaders.”
Obama will be in the backyard of Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioThe Trail 2016: Warren takes VP batting practice Abortion ruling roils race for the White House, Senate US, Mexico have mutual ambassadors for first time in over a year MORE and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, both Republicans. Rubio is running for president in the 2016 election and Bush is formally considering a run. Both are skeptical of the scientific consensus that humans significantly contribute to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions.
Current Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has also caught attention of late as a climate skeptic.
But Earnest denied that Obama’s visit has anything to do with the election.
“This is not an effort necessarily to go to anybody’s home state. This is an effort to raise the debate,” he said.
“The truth is, those Republicans that choose to deny the reality of climate change, they do that to the detriment of people that they’re elected to represent,” Earnest continued.
If the weather permits, Obama plans to take a long tour of various parts of the Everglades, Goldfuss said.
Rising sea levels are pushing more saltwater into the Everglades and killing the grass, while causing the Everglades’ iconic mangroves to move.
On Wednesday, the National Park Service will release various reports on climate change, including one highlighting the agency’s economic role and one on parks’ role in absorbing carbon dioxide.
“They’re like natural filters,” Goldfuss said. “National park land in the lower 48 states store 14.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, a service valued at more than $580 million each year.”
Obama will also meet with “Science Guy” Bill Nye and talk about climate change and Earth Day, Goldfuss said.