Fla. Agency Bans the Words ‘Climate Change.’ Really?

It’s baaaack. Florida, that wacky state that brought us hanging chads and other irregularities during the 2000 Bush v. Gore presidential election, has returned full force with some new controversy.

Indeed, while the great weight of scientific evidence has persuaded the vast majority of scientists skilled in the field that global warming is real and a looming danger for the planet, government officials at the primary environmental agency in Florida have been prohibited from using the words “climate change,” according to Time.com.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an unwritten directive to not use the words “climate change” or “global warming” in official reports and communications, claims the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR).

Christopher Byrd, an attorney in the DEP’s Office of General Counsel from 2008 to 2013, informed FCIR that “[w]e were told not to use the terms climate change, global warming or sustainability,” and that “that message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

Moreover, additional former DEP personnel reportedly told the FCIR that this unwritten directive was put in place after Rick Scott, who has rejected the argument that climate change has been caused by humans, took the helm as the governor of Florida in 2011.

In the humble view of this blogger, Al Gore won the state of Florida in the 2000 presidential election, based on the ruling of the Florida Supreme Court, and thus should have become president based on the Electoral College vote tally. And he won the national popular vote by approximately 500,000 votes. Gore, and his book “An Inconvenient Truth,” have been at the forefront of global warming education.

Gore ultimately did not become president, as we know, because the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Florida Supreme Court. Gore was not able to implement his vision for the environment from the White House.

And now, 15 years later, Florida government officials reportedly are seeking to pretend that climate change and global warming are not happening by eliminating these words from governmental reports and communications. Let’s hope we are not living in an Orwellian world where government can try to invent “truth” based on words allowed or disallowed.

Eliminating words does not alter the unmistakable fact of global warming. Rather than retreat into denial, best efforts must be taken to save the planet. Leadership should come from government.

Where have you gone, Al Gore? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is of counsel in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod’s columns, please email him at ejsinrod@duanemorris.com with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual partners.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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