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Surprising Science

Florida officials banned from using the term ‘climate change’

Since 2011 state officials have been restricted from using the phrase “climate change” in addition to a list of other terms surrounding environmental issues.

Tristram Korten from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting reports on some environmental censorship going on the state level in Florida. Since 2011 officials have been restricted from using the phrase “climate change.”

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any communications or reports. The unwritten rule has been communicated to employees through word-of-mouth since Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011. Of course, Scott doesn’t believe that the climate crisis is man-made, so he has imposed the regulation on officials from speaking out about, you know, science.

One former employee spoke to Korten, saying how the regulation has impacted government reports as well as public policy and educational efforts throughout the state:

We were dealing with the effects and economic impact of climate change, and yet we can’t reference it.

What’s more, for a time the term “sea-level rise” was banned and supposed to be referred to as “nuisance flooding.” This policy has forced officials to adopt a mish-mash of offbeat terms in order to refer to THE ISSUE THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED. So, instead of planning for rising sea levels, fluctuation in temperatures, and intense storm systems in the future, they talk about “sustainability efforts” and “resilience planning” as if they have to protect a toddler from learning about a well-known adult truth. But, according to another former employee, even “sustainability” is off-limits, giving scientists little to work with when trying to communicate a mounting issue.

Korten writes that there seemed to be progress in February when Scott acknowledged the rising oceans, committing $106 million to deal with the effects. But it’s hardly a long-term plan, Korten writes:

$50 million of that is for a sewage plant in the Keys, and $25 million is for beach restoration, which critics say is hardly a comprehensive plan to protect homes, roads, and infrastructure.

Read more at Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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