Administrators working for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have been banned from using the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in any state documents, as well in meetings, on orders handed down from high-ranking officials in Gov. Rick Scott’s administration, reports the Miami Herald.
Staffers in the DEP say they are not allowed to use any terms not deemed, “a true fact” by higher ups in the state government.
“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’” explained Christopher Byrd, a former attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel until 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”
According to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, DEP officials were ordered not to use the terms in any official communications, emails, or reports, with one former staffer saying she was cautioned by a supervisor to refrain from using the terms in staff meetings.
“We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact,” former DEP employee Kristina Trotta explained.
The unwritten policy reportedly went into effect after Gov. Scott, who has steadfastly stated that he is not convinced that climate change is caused by human activity despite scientific consensus, took office in 2011.
According to Scott spokesperson Jeri Bustamante, “There’s no policy on this.”
DEP employees disagree, with one frustrated staffer saying they were warned that using the terms in reports would bring unwanted attention to their projects.
“We were dealing with the effects and economic impact of climate change, and yet we can’t reference it.”
According to Byrd, is not just about the words they have been told not to use.
“It’s an indication that the political leadership in the state of Florida is not willing to address these issues and face the music when it comes to the challenges that climate change present,” he explained.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, climate change and rising sea levels would have a devastating impact on Florida’s low-lying coastal areas; affecting fresh water supplies, agriculture, tourism, and the fragile Everglades ecosystem.