The Miami Herald published a report earlier today stating that officials in Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection have been banned from using the terms “global warming” and “climate adjust.” The ban didn’t just happen, but took effect when Republican Governor Rick Scott took office in 2011.
According to former employees of Florida’s DEP, state employees have been banned from mentioning climate change, global warming, or any other climate adjusting term by name. Officials at the DEP were not allowed to use the terms “global warming” or “climate adjust” in any official communications, emails, or reports. Records and the testimony of former employees and volunteers was compiled by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
The truly shocking part of this story is that the DEP is the state agency responsible for monitoring — in addition to numerous other things — climate change and its effects on the state, which will be the most affected by the implications of global warming.
According to the Miami Herald, any employee that resisted was formally instructed that the DEP is “the governor’s agency and this is a message from the governor’s office. And that is the message we will portray.”
A former Miami DEP worker said that she was told by a supervisor that she could not use the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in a 2014 staff meeting because “we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact.”
When the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was contacted by the Miami Herald about the policy of not using terms like “climate adjust” or “global warming,” the department’s press secretary, Tiffany Cowie, responded with an email.
“DEP does not have a policy on this.”
When the paper pressed the department for clarification or explanation, the department refused to respond. The Herald then contacted Governor Rick Scott’s office about the DEP’s policy.
The governor’s spokeswoman, Jeri Bustamante, responded even more succinctly in her email.
“There’s no policy on this.”
With over 1,260 miles of coastline that will no doubt be affected by a rise in sea level directly affected by global warming, it’s strange that Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection would be banned from using certain terms to describe the condition.
South Florida is especially vulnerable to sea level rise caused by global warming. The National Climate Assessment released a statement saying that “just inches of sea level rise will impair the capacity of storm water drainage systems to empty into the ocean.”
By 2060, climate change is expected to raise the sea level off the coast of Florida by two feet.
[Photo by Joe Raedle / Getty Images]