There are five infamous stages to dealing with loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It seems many politicians are stuck in denial mode regarding the loss of a habitable planet.
May 2015 was reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to be the hottest May on record. 2014 was reported by NASA to be the hottest year on record. NASA also reports that 9 of the 10 hottest years on record were in the 21st century, with the only exception being 1998. A recent study says we’re causing the sixth mass extinction of Earth’s history. And yet, our government and politicians remain at best half-hearted in their response to climate change, with a notable few ardently committed to not addressing it.
Florida’s Governor Rick Scott is one such person. Rumors of a Scott Administration policy banning the words “climate change” from being used in government proceedings have yet to be proven in any concrete, damning way, but this video from a Senate Committee meeting with Florida’s Emergency Management Director Brian Koon definitely implies some sort of tacit prohibition of the term:
Funny as the video may be, the greater issue at hand is gravely serious. In the face of a long-term, devastating harm for all of humankind, politicians from one of the most influential countries on this planet are choosing to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that it isn’t happening. They are squandering what little time we have to turn things around (or at the very least, slow our incessant roll towards trouble).
“Prior to Scott’s election, DEP was aggressively studying climate change. When Scott, a climate change skeptic, took office in 2011, the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ began to disappear from DEP reports” -Tristram Korsten, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
I’ve been holding off on talking about this issue because there was limited evidence, but an article today in the Miami Herald outlines a more tangible symptom of the Governor’s climate “discouragement”: the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is not taking any action towards slowing climate change, or even adapting to it. This is not the norm for the DEP. Florida Center for Investigative Reporting’s Tristram Korten reports, “Prior to Scott’s election, DEP was aggressively studying climate change. When Scott, a climate change skeptic, took office in 2011, the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ began to disappear from DEP reports, according to a previous analysis by FCIR”.
Regardless of whether anything will come of these allegations, let’s be clear: changing the name or avoiding discussion of the problem is not changing or avoiding the problem. Whether it’s sea level rise or “nuisance flooding”, it’s still half of Florida underwater. Whether it’s climate change or “extended popsicle season”, it’s still a consistent warming trend that threatens our comfort (and eventually our survival) on this planet.
Gov. Scott is the poster child for our mantra, “Today’s apathy is tomorrow’s agony”.