Florida Governor Rick Scott doesn’t like climate change. Neither do I. I also don’t like traffic congestion, wars, poverty and racial strife. But I don’t deny their existence, or worse, the use of the words. So why is it that according to the Florida Center for Investigative Journalism, Scott is banning scientific language dealing with polar ice melts and sea level changes that are irrefutably taking place?
There is some wiggle room as to cause. Some would argue there exists some legitimate dispute about our role regarding the reason for these changes, but let’s be clear: there is no dispute about the fact it’s occurring.
Climate change, global warming, and rising sea levels are being replaced in Florida with “less loaded” terms like “climate drivers” and “nuisance flooding.” These are not words used by scientists; they are [Governor] Scott’s words
So why should the words “climate change” and “global warming” be taboo in Florida or anywhere else? Sea level is rising. So much so that Miami Beach officials are now planning to raise the height of one of its main traffic corridors by as much as two feet. Why? Because at high tide, West Avenue and other roads on Miami Beach flood with sea water from Biscayne Bay. That’s not a theory; it’s a reality, one that South Floridians have seen occurring during our lifetime.
But you know what else is a fact? It’s a fact that politicians like Governor Rick Scott tend to not want to bite off the hand that feeds them. Politics in America today is not beholden to scientific research, it’s beholden to---cha-ching---money.
According to OpenSecrets.org, companies with interests in oil and gas contributed more than $70 million to federal candidates in the 2012 cycle. The top five lobbying clients of 2014 were Koch Industries $13,800,000, Exxon Mobil $12,650,000, Occidental Petroleum $9,198,798, American Petroleum Institute $9,090,000 and Royal Dutch Shell $8,420,000. All are companies for which the reality of global warming has become an irritant to their bottom line.
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But ignoring the problem or, worse, ignoring the mere mention of the word, will not make it go away—not when 95 percent of the scientific community insists that global warming is occurring and could wreak havoc if their warnings go unheeded.
But denying is one thing. Pretending the word doesn’t even exist is quite another. Scott is reportedly mandating the very people assigned to protect Florida’s environment to ignore words that may be abhorrent to certain donors.
Climate change, global warming, and rising sea levels are being replaced in Florida with “less loaded” terms like “climate drivers” and “nuisance flooding.” These are not words used by scientists; they are Scott’s words — designed as a dystopian, reality-denying lexicon forced upon his Department of Environmental Protection.
In February, Scott held a news conference to unveil a proposed $106 million budget to deal with the effects of rising oceans. But as the Miami Herald points out, much of the money was instead diverted toward construction of a $50 million sewer plant. So much for planning for the future.
Rick Scott said, “We have spent $350 million to deal with sea-level rise" in the Miami area and "hundreds of millions of dollars to deal with coral reefs." Politifact ranks those statements as “mostly false.”
Here are the facts of what Florida is facing. Saltwater intrusion would leave parts of the state without drinking water. Estimates of sea levels rising by two feet would leave swaths of Florida’s coastline uninhabitable. Billions of dollars in businesses and residences would be lost.
We who live in South Florida know that things are changing. We are already witnessing the results. Now, it’s up to our leaders, (none more important than our governor), to at the very least acknowledge the existence of the words, which could lead to the end of Florida as we know it.