“Pasco County’s Mariano sticks head in sand on climate change”Pasco County Comissioner Jack Mariano said, in contradiction to scientific evidence:
“If the earth is getting warmer, it’s a natural cycle of it.”
Tampa Bay Times Editorial (Published: Saturday, November 24)
Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano thinks the Earth’s warming climate is part of a “natural cycle,” and he doubts the accuracy of predicted sea level rise – despite scientific consensus that climate change is real, human-driven and must be addressed now. Last week, Mariano refused to join other local governments in forming the Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Coalition, whose purpose is to come together as a region to prepare for the effects of rising temperatures. Mariano’s position, foolish at best and reckless at worst, is a setback for the unity needed to address these unprecedented challenges.
Mariano did not just leave Pasco out of the pact. He refused to even forward the group’s resolution to his colleagues on the Pasco County Commission, all because he has his head in the sand about the real causes of climate change. Mariano is not a scientist, and he is not within his rights to stake out the position for the county based on his own misguided beliefs. As fellow Comissioner Kathryn Starkey pointed out, Pasco’s participation in resiliency efforts is “a commission decision, not a commissioner decision.”
Mariano, a Republican, represents Pasco’s northwest corner fronting the Gulf of Mexico. His district includes a roughly 15-mile stretch along U.S. 19, where thousands of homes and businesses sit in evacuation Level A, the first to be ordered out when a storm is approaching. His district is home to a regional hurricane shelter in Hudson, where dozens of special needs residents evacuated last month as Hurricane Michael whipsawed through their Panhandle towns. In other words, Mariano’s district is Ground Zero for climate change. How will his coastal constituents fare if he continues making declarations such as, “I think the overwhelming change of the climate, humans have a minuscule amount of effect”?
Even worse than Mariano’s provably false rhetoric is his apparent refusal to act. The Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Coalition, which includes 24 cities and counties from Citrus County south to Manatee County, deliberately avoids politically fraught talk about the causes of climate change. That’s so the group can focus on action: adapting to or combating the effects of climate change through steps such as building higher seawalls, raising roads and implementing new building codes. But Mariano apparently wants no part of that kind of preparedness.
Pasco’s other four county commissioners should take the first step to remedy his error by signing onto the pact and the resolution so the county can be part of the solution to addressing climate change. Next, Mariano should avail himself of the overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change is a real and urgent challenge that eventually will have the Gulf lapping over seawalls in his own district – whether he believes in it or not.