Global warming: Florida Gov. Rick Scott's gag order.

The Catastrophe That Must Not Be Named

The Catastrophe That Must Not Be Named

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
March 26 2015 7:00 AM

The Catastrophe That Must Not Be Named

Sick Planet Earth_stock

Sharon Jacob

By now you may have heard that Florida Gov. Rick Scott is a flat-out global warming denier, even though his state is arguably the most vulnerable to sea level rise and other problems that are surely to come if we do nothing.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

But even doing nothing is too much for Scott. Four former officials at Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection have claimed that Scott put out an unwritten rule ordering that no one at the DEP even use the phrases global warming or climate change in any of their communications.

Advertisement

There has been some back and forth in various media about whether this was true or not—it’s hard to prove an unofficial decree—but then this video has come along, which pretty much confirms the order was real. It shows Florida’s emergency management director Bryan Koon testifying to the state Senate about receiving funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (which has threatened to deny some funding to states with climate change–denying governors). During the Q&A, Sen. Jeff Clemens (D–District 27) has some fun at Gov. Scott’s expense.*

Koon’s visible discomfort during this whole thing makes it pretty clear what’s what. It would be almost painful to watch … except for the obvious delight of the other senators, who cannot stop laughing at the whole ridiculous mess.

I’m glad they recognize that. The rest of the country, the world, is laughing at their governor’s denial of reality. The problem is laughing won’t change their minds, or get these head-in-the-sand politicians voted out of office … or will it? A majority of voters think climate change is an issue we need to deal with, including Republican voters. If those voters go to the polls and make that stance clear, then maybe those politicians would figure out that all that Koch brothers money won’t help them get re-elected.

Our changing climate needs to be an issue voters take seriously. What starts with laughter now will hopefully turn into the good kind of change later: changing who’s in office.

*Correction, March 26, 2015: This post originally misspelled Florida state Sen. Jeff Clemens’ last name.