Florida, the state where it is legal to shoot unarmed black people, real life cannibal zombies eat peoples’ faces, and grown men shoot themselves in the balls because guns, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the state officials are not allowed to officially acknowledge climate change because it is ‘not a true fact’.
According to the Florida Center For Investigative Reporting, there was an ‘unwritten policy’ that went into effect after Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011 and appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) director. The report states:
DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
The policy goes beyond semantics and has affected reports, educational efforts and public policy in a department that has about 3,200 employees and $1.4 billion budget.
“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’ ” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee 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 DEP employee who worked in Miami, said her supervisor told her not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in a 2014 staff meeting.
“We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact,” she said.
The climate change that is apparently ‘not a true fact’ is in fact, a true fact if you take the almost unanimous scientific consensus seriously. But then what do pesky scientists know about things like actual science? Surely complex climatic patterns and the precise study of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide should be left to the experts, like former lawyers and billionaire venture capitalists with no formal science training.
The report is horrifying to read, particularly given the almost near certainty that human civilization is verging on the brink of a very serious collapse due to man made climate change. And in case you think I’m being alarmist, I’m probably understating just how serious shit really is about to get. In 2012, the World Bank declared that a two degree celsius rise in global temperatures would be catastrophic:
As global warming approaches and exceeds two degrees Celsius, there is a risk of triggering nonlinear tipping elements. Examples include the disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet leading to more rapid sea-level rise, or large-scale Amazon dieback drastically affecting ecosystems, rivers, agriculture, energy production, and livelihoods. This would further add to 21st-century global warming and impact entire continents.
Sounds pretty bad, right? However, the report continued:
We’re on track for a 4C warmer world [by century’s end] marked by extreme heat waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise…..there is also no certainty that adaptation to a 4C world is possible.
Environmental journalist Naomi Klein sketches out what a 4C world would probably look like:
Four degrees of warming could raise global sea levels by one or possibly even two meters by 2100 (and would lock in at least a few additional meters over future centuries). This would drown some island nations such as the Maldives and Tuvalu, and inundate many coastal areas from Ecuador and Brazil to the Netherlands to much of California and the northeastern US, as well as huge swaths of South and south-east Asia. Major cities likely in jeopardy include Boston, New York, greater Los Angeles, Vancouver, London, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
Meanwhile, brutal heat waves that can kill tens of thousands of people, even in wealthy countries, would become entirely unremarkable summer events on every continent but Antarctica.
In other words, we are completely screwed unless there is a dramatic, globally coordinated movement to reduce CO2 emissions to zero in a very short period of time. If people like Rick Scott and Herschel Vinyard Jr continue to be elected into positions of power, we can be absolutely certain that they will not participate in any meaningful attempts to curb climate change. After all, how can you stop something from happening if you don’t believe it exists in the first place? Their Orwellian attempt to change the language surrounding climate change is particularly sinister given Florida is the state most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, specifically rising sea levels that could engulf much of its coastline. Of course men like Scott and Vinyard (who has since stepped down from office) don’t really need to worry about climate change given their enormous personal wealth. As Naomi Klein notes:
It is our great collective misfortune that the scientific community made its decisive diagnosis of the climate threat at the precise moment when an elite minority was enjoying more unfettered political, cultural, and intellectual power than at any point since the 1920s.
The rich can buy their way out of danger when the most serious effects of climate change begin to occur. The rest of us then have to deal with the consequences of electing these idiots into power.
So listen up Florida, stop being so goddamn stupid before you drown the lot of us.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.