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Gov. Scott’s Unwritten Policy On Climate Change — Don’t Talk About It

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Gov. Scott’s Unwritten Policy On Climate Change — Don’t Talk About It

Florida Gov. Scott addresses an economic summit in Orlando

Dear Florida Gov. Rick Scott:

So it turns out the experts were mistaken. It turns out the impact of climate change on Florida — and much of the coastal United States — is not going to be anywhere near as bad as had been predicted. Apparently, it’s going to be much worse.

That’s the sobering finding of a study published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change. Previous scenarios, grim as they were, failed to take into account projected population growth. Factor that in, say the researchers, and the number of people likely to be affected by rising sea levels caused by melting polar ice caps explodes to triple the previous most dire estimates.

The brunt of the catastrophe is expected to be felt in the Southeast, cities like Biloxi, Mississippi, Charleston, South Carolina, and an obscure little seaside hamlet called Miami, Florida. Already, tourists in Miami Beach have to slosh through ankle-deep waters when the tide is especially high. By 2100, that might be regarded as the good old days.

The new study projects a future in which as many as 13.1 million Americans, nearly half of them in Florida, find themselves forced to flee or adapt as seawater rises toward their doorsteps. A child born today might be part of the nation’s largest mass exodus since the Great Migration a century ago.

Interestingly enough, governor, those frightful projections come a year almost to the day after a Miami Herald report that revealed your unwritten policy for dealing with climate change: Don’t talk about it. Forbid state officials from using the very words.

Yes, you claimed no such policy exists, but you were contradicted by multiple ex-employees of the state Department of Environmental Protection, and their testimony was compelling. “We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,'” said Christopher Byrd, a former state Department of Environmental Protection attorney.

This strategy — essentially a governmental gag order — is one your Republican Party has frequently used in recent years. The apparent idea is that if you forbid discussion of it, a problem resolves itself. We’ve repeatedly seen the great success of this policy. George W. Bush’s ban on U.S. funding to international groups that provide information on pregnancy termination brought abortion to a screeching halt. A congressional ban on research into gun violence helped make mass shootings a thing of the past.

Sorry, governor. Pulling your leg.

Actually, the most recent figures available from the World Health Organization tell us the international abortion rate stands at 28 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, about where it’s been since the turn of the century. And there were at least 10 mass shootings in this country just last week — 40 people wounded, 14 killed.

The truth is, sir, “Ignore it and it will go away” is a policy more suited to children than to adults. And past a certain age, even kids learn the untenability of such thinking. The disastrous report card you stuff down in your backpack is always dug out. The broken vase you sweep under the couch is always discovered.

Similarly, the environmental disaster whose discussion you forbid will flood your streets and put property valued in the tens of billions of dollars at risk, whether it is talked about or not.

Governor, your party is forever taking action to fight “dangers” — mass voter fraud, sharia law — that do not exist. It is beyond unconscionable that it and you stick your fingers in your ears when confronted with a threat that is not only real but, conceivably, existential.

The science is clear, sir. The trend lines are, too. Americans are rushing to the shore. Housing and infrastructure are rising to meet them.

The potential price of silence was already high a year ago. It just rose higher still.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.)


Photo: Florida Gov. Rick Scott addresses an economic summit in Orlando, Florida, June 2, 2015.  REUTERS/Steve Nesius

Leonard Pitts Jr.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a nationally syndicated commentator, journalist, and novelist. Pitts' column for the Miami Herald deals with the intersection between race, politics, and culture, and has won him multiple awards including a Pulitzer Prize in 2004.

The highly regarded novel, Freeman (2009), is his most recent book.

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  1. Dominick Vila March 16, 2016

    This is what he did after Columbia HCA, the company he founded and was CEO of, was found guilty of defrauding MEDICARE and given the largest fine in history.
    The same strategy applies to climate change now, for a man more interested in protecting special interests than the environment and our future.
    Don’t talk about it, the idiots will forget, and focus instead on their cell phones, texting, and their favorite TV show. As in the past, enough zombies will continue to vote for people like him in spite of their record. The next step for him is a Senatorial seat in Washington…and since in the homeland of pregnant chads anything is possible, he will probably win again.

    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 16, 2016

      BINGO! So many Americans have such an inordinate desire to “suckle” mindlessly at the “Breast of Crass Materialism”. Weaning will be traumatic, but we all must grow up at some point—or else.

    2. Joan March 16, 2016

      The rumors are that he is eying a future Presidental run. Currently he is rumored to be on Trump’s short list as a VP nominee.
      Even beyond the environment Scot has been diasterous for Florida since obtaining office. Budget a mess, education underfunded, voter initiated special funds raised to pay for things other than their intended function. He has even managed to reduce revenue from tourist, Florida’s bread and butter.

  2. Eleanore Whitaker March 16, 2016

    Every has always known that Florida has kept the remains of the Meyer Lansky Miami Syndicate alive and thriving. They just don’t “talk about it.”

    The reality for Scott is that any day now, Florida could become a modern day Atlantis. He won’t care. His syndicate thugs will make sure he is high above the Floridians drowning. After all, he really isn’t doing one damn thing about all that oil that is still endangering the lives of people on the Gulf coast is he?

  3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 16, 2016

    The force of “The Ostrich With His Head in the Sand” is strong with this one, Obi Wan.
    Ignorance lead to complacency, complacency leads to callousness, and callousness leads to the Dark Side.

  4. charleo1 March 16, 2016

    As anyone who knows Fl. politics, and culture will tell you, the further North one heads from Key West, or Miami, the further South you get. When a Black unarmed 15 year old Travon Martin was murdered in Sanford Fl. a small Southern hamlet, a few rural miles North, and a World unto itself from “big city liberal” Orlando. And his killer, a White vigilante racist named George Zimmerman was found not guilty by reason of self defense. Martin may as well have been shot in Tipton Ga., Troy, Al., or Aiken SC. The results of the trial would likely have been the same. Because, the mentality, and the gut perception of the event would have been the same. The facts themselves notwithstanding. As one post I read put it, feeding facts to a Winger is like giving medicine to the dead. The significance of mere fact pales in the face of the war being fought throughout the Old South against Liberalism, Progressivism, and it’s Black Devil figurehead, Barack Obama, and before him, the closeted Communist, Bill Clinton. And the very real perception “down south,” that nothing less than their very freedom is in the balance. Defense attorneys smartly made the trial all about Zimmerman’s Constitutional Rights to have a gun, and his Right to defend himself. Jurors decided to ignore all the condemning facts, in order to defend the Second Amendment. If justice for Travon be denied in that, so be it.
    It is this well nurtured idea on the Right, that once the agreement, or compromising with the Liberal element begins, on even a solitary point, there will be no turning back. For the time, and the predicament of the country is so dire. So if the Liberals, and the scientific community agree global warming is real, and is greatly contributed to by man’s activity. It must therefore clearly be a hoax, endorsed by a lying Press wholly infested by cadre of Leftist intellectual elites, in cahoots with a decades long plot to undermine, and so, not worth mentioning, much less addressing in any way. This is the mentality that brought Rick Scott to the Governor’s Office, and re-elected him, despite his ridiculous dismal, irresponsible, and provably graft, and crony saturated first four years. As to Scott, he says little in defense of himself, he doesn’t have to. In the minds of his supporters that are legion throughout the mid-state, and Gulf Coast, (‘the Redneck Rivera,”) He’s fighting a more important battles than their jobs, their healthcare, the protection of their State’s environment, or their children’s education. He, in their minds, is fighting the Liberal agenda. He’s a T-Party man, by God! And that is plenty good enough for them.


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