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Florida State Employees Reportedly Banned from Saying “Climate Change” (What Could Possibly Go Wrong?)

Why kill the messenger when you can just ban the message instead?

image via (cc) flickr user suburbanbloke

I’m told it’s healthy to name one’s fears, so here goes:


Florida.

I’m terrified of Florida. And not just for its abundance of alligators and pythons (although, those certainly don’t help). No, I’m afraid of Florida because of this: Since 2011, that state has reportedly banned the term “climate change” from all communications and reports coming out of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection—as if banning the words will suddenly make the problem go away. This is the governmental equivalent of toddlers plugging their ears and throwing “I can’t hear you!” tantrums when they’re told them it’s bath time. In this case, though, there are millions of people at risk of getting wet.

image via (cc) flickr user freshconservative

According to the Florida Center For Investigative Reporting, a semi-tacit ban on the use of the term “climate change” dates back to Governor Rick Scott’s first term in office, beginning in 2011, when he appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as head of the Florida DEP. The ban allegedly continued under Vinyard Jr.’s successor, Scott Steverson. Explains the FCIR:

DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

The policy goes beyond semantics and has affected reports, educational efforts and public policy in a department that has about 3,200 employees and $1.4 billion budget.

The ban—denied by representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection as well as the Governor’s office—is described by both current and former state employees to the FCIR as a well-known policy, spread largely by word-of-mouth. The FCIR report describes numerous instances wherein DEP employees and contractors were warned by supervisors against referencing climate change and global warming in their work, claiming the implied ban originated within Governor Scott’s office. Scott, who squeaked into his second term in office by a one-percent margin, has refused to acknowledge man-made climate change, claiming as recently as 2014: “I’m not a scientist.”

Given that Florida is surrounded by ocean on nearly all sides, one would expect they would have the good sense to name their fears as well. Unfortunately, it seems, that’s not the case. Let’s just hope by the time Florida’s governor has the presence of mind to pull his head out of the sand, that state’s beautiful beaches aren’t already under water.

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