By Rachel Roberts
Officials at Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have been banned from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in all official communications, according to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. The FCIR said these terms are restricted from all reports and emails within the DEP.
Although the ban is unwritten, four former employees told the FCIR that they were prohibited from using these terms during their employment at Florida’s DEP. Christopher Byrd, a former attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel, said to the FCIR, “We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability.’ That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”
The irony is apparent, as Florida is among the states hardest hit by the effects of climate change. Florida harbors a number of thriving coral reefs threatened by ocean acidification and 1,200 miles of coastline, threatened by sea-level rise and extreme flooding.
Florida, however, has had a long-standing history of political skepticism when it comes to a changing climate. Senator Marco Rubio (R) said last year that he “doesn’t believe human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate.”
When asked about the issues of man-induced climate change, Florida Governor Rick Scott responded with, “Well, I’m not a scientist.”
In a speech hosted by the Atlantic Council, Kerry said, “We literally do not have the time to waste debating whether we can say ‘climate change.’ We have to talk about how to solve climate change. Because no matter how much people want to bury their heads in the sand, it will not alter the fact that 97 percent of peer-reviewed climate studies confirm that climate change is happening and that human activity is largely responsible.”
According to the FCIR, Florida is considered by many to be considered “ground zero” for sea level rise. Although there is no ban on discussing sea level rise, it is hard to talk about it without mentioning either global warming or climate change.