Wednesday 11 March 2015 08.49 EDT
Florida governor Rick Scott’s language prohibition for state employees is forefront of climate denialism as public policy
You might have missed it, but Florida has solved climate change. Our state, with 1,300 miles of coastline and a mean elevation of 100 feet, did not, however, limit greenhouse emissions. Instead, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), under Republican governor Rick Scott, forbade employees from using terms like “climate change,” “global warming” or “sea-level rise”. They’re all gone now. You’re welcome, by the way.
It’s pointless to call linguistic distortions of reality like this Orwellian: people tune you out when you use that word and, besides, Big Brother at least had wit. These are just the foot-stamping insistent lies of intellectual toddlers on the grift. It is “nuh-uh” as public policy. This is an elected official saying, “I put a bag over your head, so that means now I’m invisible” and then going out looting. Expect to see it soon wherever you live.
The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting broke the news on Sunday, stating that the prohibition on the terms “climate change,” “global warming” and “sea-level rise” went into effect after Scott’s inauguration. Former DEP counsel Christopher Byrd and five other former employees stated that the policy was unwritten and “distributed verbally”. Even when working on projects with people outside their department, employees had to scrub reports of any mention of the terms and, when necessary, replace them with euphemisms. For instance, “Sea-level rise was to be referred to as ‘nuisance flooding’” – like your high-rise atop the San Andreas fault features an “increased likelihood of intermittent wobbliness”.
The unwritten nature of the rule was perfect for Scott, who issued a non-denial denial when pressed by reporters in Tallahassee. When it comes to the tough questions, Scott’s happy to plead ignorance or claim he wasn’t there at the time. The same guy who abused his Fifth Amendment privilege a whopping 75 times before his company was assessed $1.7b in fines for Medicare and Medicaid fraud knows the value of not having to defend a policy that “doesn’t exist” (just as much as climate change “doesn’t exist”).
Making the science invisible is a much better plan than the current Republican strategy of foregoing all policy decisions by pretending to be too stupid to understand science. Scott already tried the “I’m not a scientist!” excuse anyway, and for his troubles had to entertain a clutch of scientists in Tallahassee trying to explain climate change to him. He gave them a 30-minute limit, spent nearly half of it on chit-chat, stonefaced through the remainder and then bolted.