THE BLOG
01/26/2015 12:25 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Rubio New Subcommittee Chair

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Dear Senator Marco Rubio,

So, you are thinking of running for President? You recently became chair of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees our national interests, mission, and investments in the ocean, atmosphere, fisheries, and the Coast Guard. It is time to show leadership, to prove that you can go beyond party politics to do what is best for the nation and its citizens.

That means no more "Now, I'm not a scientist..." response when it comes to science-based issues and questions. No one thinks you are a scientist or is asking you for scientific advice. We expect, rather, that as a political representative elected by the people you will represent our best interests in Washington. On issues in which you are not an expert, we expect you to rely on the best available advice from experts and then make wise, sound decisions based on it.

The vast majority of scientists will tell you that climate change is real and humans are partly to blame. Uncertainty still exists, on the related speed of change and specific impacts. The science is clear. I won't even go into evolution or creationism (You do know that dinosaurs and humans never lived at the same time and that there is plenty of scientific evidence to show the Earth is billions of years old, right?).

In your new chairmanship position, you have the opportunity to better protect our oceans, fisheries, and atmosphere, thereby better protecting us. This is not just relevant to the environment. Millions of jobs and billions in economic revenue depend on a healthy ocean and sustainable, thriving fisheries. We rely on stable coastlines with clean and healthy wetlands, mangroves, sea grass and kelp beds, and coral reefs, to provide habitat for fish, recreational and tourism opportunities, and to protect the shoreline from waves, storms, flooding, and erosion. The ocean is also the newest frontier for drug discoveries to fight diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's. Loss of marine species may mean the loss of the next cure or treatment for some of our most insidious diseases.

Rising sea level threatens coastal communities, especially during storms when surge may inundate low-lying regions (coming from Florida you should be exceptionally aware of this hazard). Ocean acidification puts our shellfish, coral reefs, and marine food web at risk. Rising seawater temperatures are changing the distribution of fish and other marine life. Harmful algal blooms are on the rise worldwide. Climate change is real, humans are partly to blame, and the impacts are becoming ever more apparent.

Protecting the ocean, fisheries, and atmosphere should not be a partisan issue. I don't care what party you are from. Do the right thing. Show leadership. Show the nation that you are above party politics and care most about people and future generations. Listen to the overwhelming majority of experts and do what you can as our political representative to reduce emissions, support renewable energy technologies, protect our fisheries and coasts, and support the science and education needed to keep our nation and its citizens safe, prosperous, and healthy.

I write this as a scientist, Florida resident, and concerned U.S. citizen.