According to a report in the Florida Miami Herald by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, DEP, claim they were told not to use the terms ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’ in official communications, emails, or reports.

The policy was confirmed by other ex-employees, and neither the current DEP director Scott Steverson, nor ex-director Herschel Vinyard Jr. would comment on the issue.   They did not deny the policy which reportedly went into effect after Florida Governor Rick Scott took office.

DEP Dir. Jon Stevenson

DEP Dir. Jon Stevenson

The Herald further reports that the DEP press secretary, Tiffany Cowie, and Gov. Scott’s spokesperson, Jeri Bustamante, stated that there was no policy on those issues, however neither would use the term ‘climate change’ when referring to the term ‘climate change’.

“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.”

The Washington Post reported that  Florida scientist Elizabeth Radke claimed she had to remove the term ‘climate change’ from her Ph.D. dissertation in order to get it published.

“We had to submit the paper to the state Department of Health for clearance, and one of the comments we got back was that we couldn’t use that phrase,” Radke said Monday evening in an interview. She said she wasn’t sure if they could even get away with using the word “climate.”

Accepted Science

Climate change is pretty close to a substantiated scientific fact. According to the the Fourth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

 “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal…” and “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

The report is the product of 676 authors from 40 countries, and was reviewed by 635 experts and representatives from 113 governments. There is currently no real scientific opposition, however some politicians think there is. Gov. Scott stated in 2010 that he did not believe climate change.

“I have not been convinced,” he said. Asked what he needs to convince him, “Something more convincing than what I’ve read.”


Climate Ignorance

Though he stated he was not a scientist, so how to convince him? Ten climate scientists from Florida institutions met with him to do just that without any reported success. Currently he admits to not understanding the science, and we have no idea if he listens to them.  This is bad news for Florida.

The future may be less grim. According to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future, 83 percent of Americans, including 61 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of independents, say that if nothing is done to reduce emissions, global warming will be a very or somewhat serious problem in the future. Two-thirds of Americans said they were more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change.

Among Presidential Candidates

  1. Elizabeth Warren thinks the evidence is unmistakable.
  2. Joe Biden accepts and believe we should find a solution.
  3. Hilary Clinton for action to fight it.
  4. Chris Christie accepts.
  5. Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan are cautious skeptics.
  6. Paul Ryan is silent, but opposed to taking action
  7. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee are in denial.
  8. Scott Walker’s policy is to cut any funds for fighting climate change.
  9. Rick Santorium thinks it is a conspiracy.
  10. Donald Trump thinks it is a myth.

Trump is included to round out the top ten, but he is not a serious candidate, and is included just to make everyone else look better on this issue.

Gov. Scott’s unwritten policy is an example of someone dismissing established scientific theory because of political self interest. The fact that it is not a written policy, and they are not forthright on the unwritten policy, leads us to believe this is intentionally meant to mislead for political purposes.