The governor is a prominent climate change denier. His home is located on a beach, just one foot above sea level. Erosion, higher waves, sea level rise, flooding, and storms threaten the property.
The day after the Third National Climate Change Assessment report came out, the New York Times said Scott would not respond to its questions about what Florida is doing about sea level rise. When a Palm Beach television station asked him about it, Scott said the state’s emergency management division would handle any flooding problems — period.
Three years ago, Scott made his position plainer. “I’ve not been convinced that there’s any man-made climate change,” he said in a 2011 interview.
Scott has a vested interest in how Florida fares amid the rising seas. He owns a $9.2 million mansion in Naples that sits right on the beach, a foot above sea level and about 200 feet from the water.
"He’s definitely in one of the most vulnerable positions," said Jim Beever of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council. Despite Scott’s denial, Beever said, the sea is creeping up on him already. Along that stretch of the Collier County coastline, he said, it has been rising at the rate of about 8 to 9 inches over the past century.
Because Florida is so flat, even a few inches of increase means water pushes a long way inland. For instance, 60 miles north of Naples, the mangroves lining the shores of Charlotte Harbor have retreated the length of a football field from where they were 50 years ago.
The rising sea will lead to greater beach erosion and other problems, but what poses the most immediate threat to Scott’s home is not the slow creep of higher waves. It’s the increasing reach of the storm surge that accompanies tropical storms and hurricanes.