Florida has a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with a fine reputation. In recent years, the Florida DEP has levied dams, elevated land masses to avoid flooding, and re-nourished coastlines, but in recent weeks investigations into DEP actions have taken the “shine” out of the sunshine state.
The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting recently uncovered unsettling information which highlights actions to ban the terms “global warming” and “climate change” from all official communication. Several DEP employees came forward stating, “We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability.' That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel."
Press Secretary Tiffany Cowie has denied these accusations, explaining that no official policy is in place to ban the environmental terms, while there is an unofficial policy in place. This unofficial/unspoken policy was put in place in accordance with Governor Rick Scott’s entry to office, after he appointed a new director of the DEP.
Governor Rick Scott
Gov. Rick Scott (R) is anything but a forward environmentalist. His nature in the climate change debate can best be described as timid, as he has still to share his views on our changing climate.
Back in 2010, Scott was quoted saying that he had “not been convinced” about the validity of humanity’s effect on the climate, and since then his views have been hidden.
While it is obvious that the governor does not believe in climate change, he neglects to ever take a stand on either side of the debate.
His newly proposed budget for the Florida DEP takes solutions to rising sea-levels into account, but the terms “climate change” and “global warming” are not officially allowed in any of the legislation.
Why Florida Needs to Face Climate Change
Florida is in danger in regards to climate change, mostly due to predicted sea level rise.
Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, the average sea level has risen at an almost constant rate, most likely due to humans. No current model can certainly predict how much sea levels will rise in the coming decades, but by looking at the topography of landmasses and the population of those landmasses at different elevations, scientists can predict the amount of people that would be displaced by climate change-related flooding.
A significant area of the Florida Peninsula is 5 meters above sea level or less, and a large percent of the state’s population lives in that area.
If sea levels rise, Florida will have the largest effected population of any state. Besides the displacement of over a million people, the peninsula will experience intense ecosystem reforms as saline water spills into fresh water estuaries and kills the native aquatic plant life.
What would follow can best be described as a nightmare, with heightened erosion, extinction of species, and other phenomenon. Truly, Florida is in no position to deny, cover up, or censor climate change.