The state of Florida is the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming in this country, according to scientists. Sea-level rise alone threatens 30 percent of the state’s beaches over the next 85 years.
But you would not know that by talking to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state agency on the front lines of studying and planning for these changes.
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.
“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’ ” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”
Kristina Trotta, another former DEP employee who worked in Miami, said her supervisor told her not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in a 2014 staff meeting.
“We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact,” she said.
It’s reasonable to assume the impetus for this was Gov. Rick Scott, who took office in 2011. He appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as the DEP’s director: Gov. Scott has publicly stated that he is not convinced that climate change is caused by human activity.
So, despite all available scientific evidence to the contrary, lil’ Rickey Scott and his BS in Business from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, decides that global warming isn’t true.
Cynical individuals might suspect that Scott’s evangelical tendencies (acquired while pursuing the inevitable law degree at SMU) are overriding whatever Midwestern common sense he was originally imbued with – he’s a North KC boy.
Which is sad, though we suppose just par for the course. In Wisconsin the next Heir Apparent to the GOP Throne and 2016 Presidential Beauty Entrant (nudging aside — LOOK at those muscles!– the Ever Svelte Though Venal Chris Christie) Scott Walker just successfully took a giant step toward depressing his constituency’s wages; why shouldn’t Gov. Scott deny the very sea water lapping at his feet?
Florida is easily more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than say…Missouri. The FCIR reports rising sea levels are anticipated to affect 30% of Florida’s beaches over the next 85 years. And according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, climate-change-induced flooding will have less than a salutary effect on the state’s cities, beaches, tourism, tribal communities, and fresh water supply, with sea levels forecasted to rise up to 6.6 feet (2 m) by 2100.
A 2 foot rise would be sufficient to maroon the Miami-Dade County sewage plant and nuclear power facility on Biscayne Bay.
As a comparison? Nero supposedly fiddled: the GOP is busily engaged in auto-tuning the White Boy Denial rap.