Americans excel at denial. Take climate change. There’s overwhelming scientific evidence that human activity has accelerated climate change. But a staggering 52% of the population agreed with the statement that climate change “is a natural phenomenon that happens from time to time,” in a global poll published last year. It comes as little surprise, then, that some of the country’s officials have successfully pretended that human-induced climate change does not exist.
Authorities in Florida have joined the long list of deniers by banning employees of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from using the phrases “climate change” or “global warming,” the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR) revealed Sunday.
The swampy land of Florida is one of the more vulnerable American regions to the effects of climate change, with rising sea levels anticipated to affect 30 percent of Florida’s beaches over the next 85 years, FCIR reported. According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, climate-change induced flooding is bound to threaten the state’s cities, beaches, tourism, tribal communities and fresh water supply. Sea levels are forecast to rise up to 6.6 feet by 2100, while 2 feet is enough to leave the Miami Dade County sewage plant and nuclear power facility on Biscayne Bay marooned.
But according to several former employees of Florida’s DEP, they were instructed by supervisors to avoid the two terms, along with “sea-level rise” or “sustainability,” instead using phrases like “nuisance flooding” for the former or “climate drivers.”
The change happened soon after Governor Rick Scott, a well-known climate change skeptic was elected into office, according to FCIR. Both the DEP and the governor’s office deny the existence of such a policy. Quartz reached out the DEP for comment, and will update this post if and when they do.