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Climate change doesnt exist if you never say the words out loud… right?

by Kate Melges

March 19, 2015

Florida — the Sunshine State — faces the greatest risk from sea level rise. Youd think that would make our state a leader on solar energy and enacting strong climate policies. Nope. Instead, Governor Rick Scott has decided avoiding the problem altogether is the best approach.

 

Last week, the Florida Center for Investigative Research reported that state agencies in Florida, including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) – the agency that was established to protect our environment, were banned from saying the words climate change, global warming or sea level rise in any official communications, emails, or reports. Four former DEP employees and several from other state agencies have come forward confirming the unwritten ban. Bart Bibler, a former DEP employee, apparently never got the memo about the ban on climate change and global warming. In a Florida Coastal Managers Forum, a cross-state agency teleconference, he congratulated everyone for the work being done to address climate change and spoke about his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Shortly after, he was put on a two-day leave and given a letter reprimanding him for expressing his personal views and giving the impression that the official meeting agenda included climate change.

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Scott has of course denied the ban,saying Its not true and “At our Department of Environmental Protection, there’s lots of conversation about this issue. From my standpoint, like every issue, my goal is: Instead of talking about it, let’s do something about it.” But even in denying the ban, he never mentioned the words climate change. Unfortunately, Rick Scott has done nothing about climate change other than stick his fingers in his ears and say la la la la la la la la la.

I am not a scientist became Scotts favorite slogan on the campaign trail last fall. When asked whether he thought climate change was a real threat, he would respond with the line and quickly change the subject. This prompted Florida climate scientists to request a meeting with Gov. Scott to discuss the real threat that climate change poses to our state and start thinking through solutions. Scott sat silently for the entire meeting and avoided questions after. Not. A. Word.

 

Its clear that Floridas leadership has a problem with hearing and acting on the truth. In a search of major Florida newspapers during Scotts time in office, climate change was mentioned almost never by state agencies and top elected officials. The few times it did appear in quotes from electeds, it was in response to specific questions on the campaign trail.

 

There is a glimmer of hope in the sea of craziness that is Florida.

 

Floridians from both parties are coming together to build our own solutions to climate change. Floridians for Solar Choice, a surprising coalition of tea party and Christian Coalition conservatives, Libertarians, environmentalists and retailers, have launched a state ballot petition effort to allow third party sales of solar electricity. Currently, Florida is one of five states in the nation where customers cannot choose their energy provider. The choice to power our homes, businesses, and community centers with solar should be available to everyone. Residents and businesses are denied the freedom to buy solar electricity directly from an energy provider other than a monopoly electric utility. This prohibition limits customer choice and blocks the growth of this abundant, clean homegrown energy source. This ballot measure is key to deploying more rooftop solar in the Sunshine State, and ensuring affordable electricity for every resident — even those that dont have solar themselves.

 

If you are a registered voter in Florida, you can help bring solar choice to the state. Sign and print the petition here.

 

While its clear Floridas leaders are not going to agree on the science behind climate change anytime soon, we have the power to create the change and implement the solutions our communities urgently need!

Kate Melges

By Kate Melges

Kate Melges is an oceans campaigner based in Seattle. She leads Greenpeace’s Ocean Plastics work. Kate’s focus is ending the flow of plastic pollution into the ocean.

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