Climate Change Banned From Florida’s Vocabulary

“Human influence on the climate system is clear.” That’s the conclusion U.N.-appointed scientists made about climate change in 2014. Though Florida Governor Rick Scott isn’t one of these scientists, he needs “something more convincing than what I’ve read” to believe in the phenomenon. And he’s so not convinced that the governor has informally banned the term from all government communication and reports.

“We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact.”

That’s what a former employee with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection told the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting; the report on the unwritten and informal ban appeared in the Miami Herald.

The ban began in 2011 when Scott took office; climate change denial has been a habit of his, even though science supports the belief that climate change and global warming are caused by humans. Conservatives in general say this science isn’t convincing.

According to the investigative report, Scott gave a group of Florida scientists a chance to change his mind and explain the science behind the phenomenon – for 30 minutes. Intros took up 10 minutes, one of these scientists claimed.

“But we had our 20 to 21 minutes, and he said thank you and went on to his more urgent matters, such as answering his telephone calls and so on. There were no questions of substance.”

So what exactly is Scott and the state of Florida accused of banning? Apparently, any reference to “climate change,” “global warming” or “sustainability” in emails or reports and even presentations, a former DEP attorney said. And the order apparently came from the Office of General Counsel.

“It’s an indication that the political leadership in the state of Florida is not willing to address these issues and face the music when it comes to the challenges that climate change present.”

Current DEP officials declined to comment on the ban policy.

But here’s one example of the ban in action: In 2014, “climate change” was banned from a DEP presentation on coral reef conservation. Doug Young, president of the South Florida Audubon Society, attended the meeting and said DEP staff never said “climate change” or discussed how it effects coral reefs.

“The two young women, really good people, said, ‘We are not allowed to show the words, or show any slides that depicted anything related to climate change.'”

The worst part is the fact that the banned terms are serious issues in Florida, added ThinkProgress. Sea level rise – a term the DEP is allowed to utter – is a serious threat and is already causing problems in the state’s southern reaches. But critics say the state can’t prepare for the effects of climate change if officials aren’t allowed to talk about it. One scientist’s criticism in particular is quite blunt.

“It’s beyond ludicrous to deny using the term climate change. It’s criminal at this point.”

[Photo Courtesy Joe Raedle/Getty Images]