Bill Nelson to fellow U.S. lawmakers: listen to the scientists and don’t censor their climate warnings

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. U.S. Senate Photo

These are the final few weeks that Bill Nelson will serve as a  U.S. Senator from Florida before he fades off into the sunset. And before he leaves, the three-term Democrat is determined to cajole Congress into making positive changes, even though he won’t be there to see it happen.

Nelson lost to Republican Rick Scott by less than .15 percent in his quest for reelection, and has given three speeches this week on public policy during the lame-duck session of Congress. On Thursday, he called on Republicans to join Democrats in fighting to combat climate change, indirectly calling out Scott in the process.

“Reports of political censorship, or political interference with science, are unacceptable and they are foolish,” Nelson said. “If we ignore science, we do so at our own peril.”

In 2015, news media reports surfaced that officials with Governor Scott’s Department of Environmental Protection had issued directives in 2011 barring thousands of employees from using phrases like “climate change” and “global warming.” The governor denied such a ban ever existed.

Scott also supported President Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Paris climate agreement last year, and he has consistently opted not to directly to answer the question about whether he believes in man-made climate change, sometimes saying that he’s “not a scientist.”

At one point during his short speech on Thursday, Nelson said he wanted to appeal to both Democrats and Republicans to “take climate change seriously.”

“Listen to the experts and come together to work on solutions. Instead of saying, ‘I’m not a scientist,’ listen to the scientists. Don’t try to censor their warnings or hide from the truth,” Nelson said.

Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry has spent the past 18 years covering news and politics in the Sunshine State, most recently with He worked for five years as the political editor of Creative Loafing in Tampa, and before that he was the assistant news director at WMNF radio, where he served as creator/anchor/producer of the hour-long WMNF Evening News. A San Francisco native, Mitch began his career at KPFA Radio in Berkeley in the 1990's.


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