According to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR), officials from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the terms “global warming”, “climate change”, and “sea-level rise” were reportedly banned in Florida by Republican Governor Rick Scott. These terms were censored by the governor as far back as 2011, when according to a former employee of the DEP, Kristina Trotta, officials from that agency were informed that they were no longer at liberty to use those terms.
Officials from the DEP as well as Governor Scott’s office denied that there was any such policy banning the terms “climate change” or “global warming”. According to a number of sources from the FCIR, however, this was an unwritten rule that was made clear only verbally, with no paper trail. Since the story broke, other officials from different state government agencies are coming forward as well. Bill Taylor, a manager for the Florida Department of Transportation, suggested that he remembered that a message was made clear that the terms “global warming” and “climate change” were not to be used anymore. Yet, “sea-level rise” still could be used, mostly out of necessity, since some projects had to take into account the rising of sea levels.
An employee from another government agency, the South Florida Water Management District, also recalled this ban, suggesting that using the words in any report would not make the cut and would be edited out. And a scientist based in Florida who worked on a report about how climate change impacted animal life in the seas was advised by the state Department of Health that she could not mention the term “climate change” even once. The order came shortly after Scott assumed the governorship in Florida in 2011, when he appointed Herschel Vinyard, Jr. as Director of the DEP. From that point onward, the terms “climate change”, “Global warming”, and “sea-level rise” were effectively forbidden from being used.
Governor Scott himself has long been known as a climate change denier, often voicing his skepticism that human activity has anything to do with climate change, even though Florida itself is one of the states regarded as most at risk. There are projections of rising sea levels potentially putting numerous communities in the state at risk in the next few decades. Miami has already been forced to deal with significant flooding at times.
News of the ban of these terms has not failed to escape notice outside of Florida. Secretary of State John Kerry has already leveled strong criticism indirectly at Governor Scott, and any other elected officials that try to ban these terms. Although he never actually mentioned Governor Scott by name, he said that such officials were trying to bury their heads in the sand, and that they are not willing to face the facts that they are presented with suggesting that climate change is real. Still, Kerry says, that does not make the threat of climate change any less real.
Although the terms “climate change” and “global warming” have been banned in Florida by Governor Scott, they still sometimes have found their way into official government reports. However, their use has been extremely limited and grown increasingly scarce under the tenure of Governor Scott.
By Charles Bordeau
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore – License