Climate change is not so much a threat to parts of Florida, as much as it is a real and present problem; Miami already incurs regular street flooding at high tide, and parts of the state sit six feet below sea level. But Florida is also unabashedly Florida—its politicians, including presidential hopeful Jeb Bush frequently deny that climate change even exists. And now Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection—yes, the very agency that deals with the consequences of climate change—has banned employees from using the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming.’
Accounts from former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers as well as records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting uncovered the state agency’s bizarre policy (which the DEP denies is a “policy”). Not only are the terms “global warming,” “climate change,” and according to some, “sustainability” banned from use in official communications and emails, the apparently loaded terms are also barred from use in reports—which includes educational materials produced by the DEP.
The unwritten policy appears to have come into effect after the 2011 election of Gov. Rick Scott, who has repeatedly expressed doubt the climate change is caused by human activity. Scott appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as the DEP’s director—a relative unknown in Florida’s environmental circles who laid off the agency’s wetlands adviser over a dispute over permits.
As absurd as the ban on ‘climate change’ is, it speaks volumes as to how the state allocates resources to fight the very effects of climate change. If the Florida state agency that is tasked with environmental protection, and whose annual budget from 2000-2005 averaged $1,899,731,705, tells its employees, advisers and attorneys that they cannot acknowledge the existence of climate change in their work how can these workers then go about doing their job effectively?
Some could argue that it’s simply a matter of semantics: the Florida legislature is acknowledging sea-level rise, and the DEP does use terms such as “climate drivers” and “climate driven change.” But those who’ve worked within the DEP, including former DEP General Counsel Christopher Byrd sees the issue as much more: “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.”
Via Miami Herald