Governor Scott likes to embarrass Florida by implementing ridiculous policies, which make the national media ask questions such as “where’s the leadership in the state?, and what are they thinking?” In 2011, there was an unwritten policy in Scott’s administration that the state Department of Environmental Protection employees had been ordered not to use the term “climate change” and “global warming.”
Florida Governor Scott has always denied that he ever directed state officials to refrain from using such terms. Even last week Scott said, “First off, it’s not true. Let’s look at what we’ve accomplished: we’ve had significant investments in beach re-nourishment in flood mitigation.”
As usual, Scott has learned to never answer a question directly, and with the truth. Instead, our governor would rather tell reporters the good job he is doing in the state, and what he has just accomplished. By ignoring questions, Scott can keep his distance from reporters and issues that he refuses to address.
The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting published a report last week which quoted employees of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection who claimed that their supervisors advised them to refrain from mentioning the words that scientists have used to describe the global rise in temperatures. Scott’s supervisors told their employees that they would not be allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact.
Despite numerous studies that have put South Florida at great risk due to sea level rise, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection employees have been forced to keep their mouths closed on the subject. In the coming years, Florida will be hit hard by sea level rise. It would make sense now to account for new scientific predictions about sea level rise when making policies that affect coastal communities.
But since Scott is governor of Florida, the employees have learned to keep their job by keeping their mouths shut. Even though the story broke on March 8 in most U.S. media outlets, and international media outlets in England, Australia, Norway, France, Italy, India, and Japan, Scott denies that his supervisors and department employees were ordered not to use the words “climate change” and “global warming.”
The employees know that Scott will be gone in three years, and there are departments working on climate change even if they are banned from using the words. The Department of Transportation is studying how to accommodate sea level rise in the future road plans, and how to protect existing infrastructure. The state’s water management districts are modeling sea level rise projections. The DEP is managing the damage to the coasts and monitoring saltwater incursions into freshwater aquifers.
Florida is preparing for climate change, even though the governor is trying to suppress the truth. It will be hard to plan for climate change when you can’t use the term. But the employees know when Scott is gone, the problems they are working on will not end. Governors and news cycles come and go, but the long thinking, and hard working employees of the state agencies will still be here working on scientific projects, which improve the quality of life for Floridians.
Roger Caldwell, a community activist, author, journalist, radio host and CEO of On Point Media Group, lives in Orlando. His book, The Inspiring Journey of a Stroke Survivor, details the story of his recovery from a massive stroke. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.