According to a report released by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR), the employees of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have been ordered not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in official communications. Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013 stated “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.”
The report revealed that it is an unwritten policy which came into effect after Governor Rick Scott, a global warming skeptic, took office. The state of Florida in the US is highly vulnerable to the effects of global warming which makes such prohibitions for Florida officials noteworthy. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2014 wrote “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.”
Doug Young, president of the South Florida Audubon Society and a member of the Broward County Climate Change Task Force explained “I told them the biggest problem I have was that there was absolutely no mention of climate change and the affect of climate change on coral reefs. The two young women, really good people, said, ‘We are not allowed to show the words, or show any slides that depicted anything related to climate change.”
Scott has always been skeptical about the fact that human activity is leading to climate change. However, the DEP’s press secretary has stated that the report of FCIR is inaccurate. She added “DEP does not have a policy on this,” and declined to answer any more questions. A former employee revealed that although there was no such written policy, the officials had been warned that using the banned terms would bring them unwanted attention.