More and more states are adhering to the conservative approach of prohibiting people to talk about climate change. The latest such state is Florida, where rumor had it that the state actually has an unwritten rule preventing environmental experts from using “global warming” or “climate change” in their papers.
On Monday, however, Republican Governor Rick Scott has declined the existence of such a policy. Even after his statement, many state employees and private scientists alike maintained their position, saying they feel pressured into avoiding the topic, even in the context of Florida’s grave concern of future sea-level rise.
If this rumor proves to be true, it’s not the first case of state authorities (mainly Republicans) setting measures that prevent people from debating the subject of global warming. For example, climate science papers on the matter of rising sea levels have been prohibited by law in North Carolina back in 2012.
In the same manner, a former Pennsylvania employee claimed that, in 2014, she was requested to take down all references to the subject of climate change from the conservation agency’s website.
Even though there is a strong agreement among climate experts that humans have had a negative impact on global temperatures in the last 50 years, there are still states like Louisiana and Tennessee, which adopt laws allowing teachers to present alternative theories accounting for the rising temperatures.
On Sunday, TristramKorten of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting released an article alleging that, in 2011, Republican Governor Rick Scott, who did not believe in global warming, adopted a policy prohibiting environmental scientists from talking about it.
According to climate experts, the low Florida coasts will have to face raised sea levels due to increased temperatures and melting ice caps – no further than the year 2100. If the state interdicts talks about the potential dangers of such phenomena, it will be increasingly difficult to plan in advance or try to prevent harmful effects.
Among the Florida officials who were instructed to avoid climate change were the Coral Reef Conservation Program and Florida Oceans and Coastal Council. For example, the Annual Research Plan of FOCC released in 2010 mentioned climate change 15 times, whereas the revised version from 2015 only had one reference – most likely overlooked by censors.
Since 2012, North Carolina’s legislature prohibits state officials from using the most updated data when calculating sea-level rise projections. It meant that the concerned authorities did not want to admit that North Carolina’s coastline is threatened by increasing sea levels, as predicted by the Coastal Resources Commission. According to their latest report, this century is bound to bring another 39 inches in risen sea levels.
And the reason why they chose to ignore such a prognosis is because it would mean catastrophic news for local developers. The new projects that would have to be set in motion would be monumental: drawing new flood zones, building waste-treatment factories, renewal of permits, restructuring of property along the 2,000 square miles of coast and initiate construction for more elevated roads.
And the biggest problem was that the state would have to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to make this possible. So the law decided that climate scientists are wrong about acceleration of sea level rise, and all projections should base only on past sea-level rise, ignoring their predictions.
Very similar to the situation in Florida, Pennsylvania had its own debate over such policies in 2014. The website of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was cleared of any references to climate change. One of those responsible was Pennsylvania’s Republican governor in office, Tom Corbett, who was known for avoiding the subject. He even retracted all funds of programs designed to study the impacts of climate change in Pennsylvania.
On the other end of the issue, there are some state law officials who cannot get enough of talking about climate change, but in a way that allows them to subtly introduce some alternative theories. Tennessee, for example, adopted a law in 2012 that allowed teachers to avoid climate change and present other theories that explain the current conditions on our planet. The law pledges to support teachers who permit students to explore and analyze all scientific theories covered in the course.
It sounds rather innocent, but advocates of scientific education explain that many teachers choose to teach, based on this legislative loophole, creationism or climate-change denial. Louisiana is closely behind Tennessee, prepping a similar law.
And it’s strange they would fight this theory, as climate experts are 95 percent sure that humans influenced global warming, almost as they are sure that smoking causes lung cancer.