WASHINGTON — Maybe if nobody says it, it won’t happen.
That appears to be the policy of Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s administration, according to a report from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting that suggests state environmental officials were directed not to use the term “climate change” after the Republican took office in 2011.
“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,'” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney for the Department of Environmental Protection 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 employee of the DEP, told the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting that she and her colleagues were told not to use the terms “climate change” or “global warming,” or, more broadly, “we were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact.”
The DEP’s press secretary told FCIR that the department “does not have a policy on this,” and Scott’s press secretary also said there was no policy on the terms. But Byrd said the protocol, official or not, seemed to begin when Scott appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr., to head up the department.
Scott has previously dodged questions on climate change, telling the Miami Herald last year that he is “not a scientist” when asked if he believes in man-made climate change.
That stance, and the apparent unofficial policy of Florida environmental officials, is still more conservative than the position espoused by the GOP as a whole.
Republican Senators recently voted in favor of an amendment drafted by a Democrat that affirmed that “climate change is real and not a hoax,” which they said was meant to acknowledge that climate change happens — but that there’s no evidence humans contribute to it.
While climate skeptics point to the fact that the Earth has gone through cyclical shifts in the climate for millennia, the vast majority of national and global scientific associations broadly agree that humans are contributing to the Earth’s warming and the uptick in extreme weather conditions and events.