Thursday, March 19, 2015

Climate change denial: even Idaho is mocking Florida … by gimleteye

The editorial from the Idaho Mountain Express arrived with a note, "My God, even Idaho is mocking Florida."

The issue at hand: reports that Florida Gov. Rick Scott prohibits the use of climate change in state policy documents or discussions by government agency staffers.

That Idaho, home of the anti-environmental Wise Use Movement, is chiding Florida is remarkable. The Wise Use Movement began in the American West during the Ronald Reagan presidency and promoted the destruction of laws protecting the environment.

Then, in states like Idaho, the allure of wide open wilderness ignited the same passion as mineral resource exploitation on federal lands by private corporations. But not just Idaho. In Florida, Big Sugar tag-teamed its support by welcoming the rebels and their bandwagon of bug-eyed crazies.

Scarcely three decades later, the West is singing a different tune. The Wise Use Movement morphed into another tool of corporations: the Tea Party. But even the Tea Partiers can't paper over the fact that snowpacks are vanishing in Idaho and other western states whose snowfalls provide drinking water for millions of people the rest of the year.

According to a recent statement by scientists in California, the state has only about a year of potable water supply before systems break down.

The best medicine may be mockery, because climate change deniers in Florida like Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, US Senator Marco Rubio, presidential hopeful Jeb Bush and Florida legislative leaders, could be barred from office if enough voters get the point.

Yesterday PEER, a Florida whistler-blower organization called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, announced that a state worker had come forward complaining that not only was he reprimanded and suspended for using the term "climate change" at a public meeting, he was also required by his supervisor to obtain a medical release before returning to his state job. Seriously.

A lot of Florida voters who stayed home from the polls in November 2014 need to reassess what the hell they were thinking when they re-elected Rick Scott by barely 1 percent of the vote.

And a lot of Republican voters need to explain what the hell they have been thinking by electing public officials who deny that our national security is severely at risk. Here is the OPED from the Idaho Mountain Express, followed by the Tampa Bay Times report of the PEER announcement:

Banning the words won’t stop climate change

Two feet of snow in Anchorage. A record 106 inches in Boston. Barely enough snow in California’s mountains to cover the ground. This winter’s strange weather will generate conversation and debate about the earth’s changing atmosphere—except in Florida.

It’s not that Florida’s conservation leaders think snow isn’t their problem. It’s that they aren’t allowed to talk about climate change at all.

In the state where rising sea levels as a consequence of melting ice in Antarctica could flood 30 percent of the land, employees of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have been ordered not to use either “global warming” or “climate change” in any official communication.

That directive, according to the Miami Herald, went into effect after the 2011 election of Governor Rick Scott, a longtime climate denier.

Climate deniers used to argue that the earth’s atmosphere was not getting warmer. Recent events like the warmest 10 years in recorded history, drought across the world, and the loss of sea ice millions of years old have made that position unsustainable. Now the denial centers on the core issue, which is whether the warming of the earth’s climate is being caused by human activity.

Those who would do nothing argue that the changes we see are the result of natural cycles. Scientists know better. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in 2014 that the evidence is indisputable. Greenhouse gases produced by human activity began to spike upward in the industrial revolution. Now, they have reached the highest levels in history.

Those gases produce increasing temperatures in the upper atmosphere that then warm the oceans. That changes the world’s weather patterns. Over time, less than a heartbeat in geological time, the warming climate produces catastrophic weather events and increasingly warm, dry patterns.

A new video, produced by Conservation International and narrated by Julia Roberts, gives us the earth’s point of view. To put it bluntly, the earth doesn’t need us. The earth is 22,500 times older than humans. The earth really doesn’t care if humans exist or not. The earth coldly asks the simple question, “I am prepared to evolve; are you?”

If humans produced the gases that warm the atmosphere, humans can do something to stop doing so. There is a question whether the warming can be reversed, but we can at least try.

Climate change is the most critical issue facing humanity, but those who prefer business as usual have banned even the term. Too bad they can’t also ban reality.

From Saintpetersblog:
Rick Scott ‘climate change’ gag order claims first victim, enviro group says
By Peter Schorsch - Mar 18, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott’s prohibition on the term “climate change” has now claimed its first casualty, says an environmental responsibility group.

On March 9, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) suspended a state employee for speaking about climate change at an official meeting, which made its way into the record of the meeting, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Barton Bibler, a long-time DEP employee, received a letter of reprimand ordering him to take two days personal leave. The agency also instructed Bibler not to return without medical clearance.

Bibler currently serves as Land Management Plan Coordinator in DEP Division of State Lands.

On February 27, Bibler attended a Florida Coastal Managers Forum, where a number of attendees discussed climate change and sea-level rise, among other environmental topics.

Bibler’s official notes reported all of that conversation.

DEP superiors directed Bibler to remove any “hot button issues,” such as explicit references to climate change. The letter of reprimand, dated March 9, accused Bibler of misrepresenting the “official meeting agenda (so it) included climate change.”

Bibler was instructed to take two days off, which was charged against his personal leave time. He later received a “Medical Release Form” requiring his doctor to provide the agency an evaluation of unspecified “medical condition and behavior” before being allowed to return to work.

“Bart Bibler has fallen through a professional looking glass in a Florida where the words ‘climate change’ may not be uttered, or even worse, written down,” said Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips, a former DEP attorney.

Phillips pointed out that Bibler currently has “no idea” whether he will ever be allowed to return to work.

“If anyone needs mental health screening it is Governor Rick Scott,” he added, “and other officials telling state workers to pretend that climate change and sea-level rise do not exist.”

PEER is calling on the DEP Office of Inspector General to open an investigation, to determine the propriety of handling Bibler, including forced leave and the directive to waive privacy rights to allow the DEP to review a physician evaluation.

Philips is also asking for the agency to explain on what basis are they banning the use of the terms climate change,” “sustainability” and “sea-level rise.” He also claims the orders to censor meeting summaries is a violation of Florida law forbidding alteration of official records.

“Not just the employees but the citizens of Florida should demand a full investigation into what the heck is going on inside DEP and whether we can expect more cases like this,” Phillips said. “Under Governor Scott, the Department of Environmental Protection functions like a gulag where those in servitude who show any spark of honesty are simply made to disappear.”


Anonymous said...

Only the near extinction of the buffalo stopped their massive bloody extermination throughout the Plains states. Human beings are capable of worse actions than cannibalistic cockroaches - who at least act in their ultimate best interest.

Anonymous said...

It amazed me that this state reelected this criminal fool. I wish that there were some way to shame him out of office -but he has no shame.

Anonymous said...

Rick Scott knows his audience. Too many uneducated people in Florida.

Grillo said...

Also too many people who don't give hoot and didn't vote in the last election. Those were the ones who elected Scott by default.

Anonymous said...

Scott won because the Democrats nominated a fool as our candidate.

GSD said...

^^Anon speaks truth. Crist was a clown.

Mr. Sunshine said...

I'm glad to see the premise of the Conservation International video is that the Earth will evolve, with our without us. I've always snapped at those who say the Earth or the environment is "fragile."

It is not. It will do just fine - it may become so unbalanced that the majority of life on it is annihilated, but that's nothing new. It has happened at least 5 times before, and life bounds back in some other form - it just won't be us. If we chose to save ourselves, it will be because we recognize that we have to play by the planet's rule not our own.