Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, is trying to fill in fellow U.S. senators on climate change. So it makes sense that he invited members of the Commerce Committee — of which he's the ranking minority member — to West Palm Beach to learn about increasing temperatures and rising seas from the experts who know it firsthand.
But whether those committee members will ever hear the testimony from the hearing on Monday is unclear. None of the other 26 senators on the Commerce Committee attended.
A spokesman for Nelson, Bryan Gulley, said that’s not unusual for field hearings, and even some hearings in Washington D.C. There are too many conflicting events on senators' calendars. But, Gulley said, a video and transcript will be available for the other senators to watch if they choose.
Nelson said one goal of the hearing was to emphasize that climate change exists and it's not a political issue.
"We’ve got to get everybody to agree to a baseline of what is truth and what isn’t," he said. "Ninety-nine percent of the scientists tell you that the heating up of the earth is real. And it’s only 1 percent or less that will say from a scientific standpoint that this is not occurring. And so what we need to do is to give the facts to people who don’t follow this on a day-to-day basis."
Speakers at the hearing included University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University climate researchers, Broward County's chief climate resiliency officer and the senior vice president of an insurance company. They described the effects of climate change and sea level rise in South Florida and outlined steps they'd like to see the federal government take to offset future climate risks.