It is one of the profound ironies of climate change that a state besieged by its effects — where coastal islands face existential threats and daily floods render major thoroughfares difficult to navigate — is also populated by powerful politicians who express deep suspicion of the relevant science.
This is Florida, the state of Republican senator Marco Rubio, who said last year he doesn’t “believe human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate.” This is Florida, the state of former governor and Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush, who in 2009 called himself a global warming “skeptic.” And this is Florida, the state of Republican Governor Rick Scott, who has punted on the issue. “Well, I’m not a scientist,” he told the Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo last year when asked if he was becoming less skeptical of man-made climate change.
According to a Sunday report from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, Scott’s aversion to discussions of man-made climate change has been brought to bear on a department charged with protecting a state that already exhibits many of the changes scientists predict will overtake other coastal regions. Officials with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), as reported by writer Tristram Korten, have been restricted from using the term “climate change” or “global warming” in official correspondence.
The investigative reporting outfit called it an “unwritten policy,” which was “distributed verbally statewide” and has “affected” how one of the largest departments in the state, armed with a $1.4 billion budget and 3,200 employees, does business.