Republican governor appoints Florida’s first chief science officer

Ron DeSantis, Republican Florida Governor, appointed the first chief science officer on Monday, marking what he called the “commitment to science-based solutions” of the state.

DeSantis appointed the biologist Thomas Frazer, who has been the director of the School of Natural Resources and Environment of University of Florida since 2012 and previously worked as the UF Water Institute’s acting director.

In this new position, he will coordinate Florida’s research and scientific work and make sure that the officials have the scientific analysis which they need to tackle the environmental problems of the state.

Frazer’s research has looked at the effects on water of pollution. He has also worked on research about climate change. He has served as the Climate Science Faculty Committee’s chairman. Therefore, climate change will be a part of his mission.

Frazer said that “We have to look at the facts of what is going on in the environment and can we bring science to bear on those changes happening now and in the future?”

Under the predecessor of DeSantis, fellow Republican Rick Scott, some state employees said that they were discouraged from using the terms “global warming” and “climate change.”

When being asked whether he thought that climate change was a threat to the state, DeSantis said the issue was “politicized” but he considered sea-level rise a serious threat.

“My environmental policy is just to do things that benefit Floridians. And the idea that you’re signing up for some type of agenda — I don’t want to … send a signal that that’s what I’m doing because I’m not doing that,” DeSantis said. “This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to do what works.” DeSantis also said that the appointment kept with his promise to make “sound science” a Florida priority.

And Frazer will have his work cut out for him and said he was honored by the appointment. “Our environment and waterways make Florida unique,” he said. “I look forward to working with the governor and the Department of Environmental Protection on ways we can use sound science and research to improve our state’s water quality and protect the environment.”