Tuesday, August 14, 2018
News Roundup

'Climate change' ban boosts Florida's image as the Punchline State (w/video)

There's that sound again: people around the country laughing at Florida.

"So the Florida Department of Environmental Protection can't use the term 'climate change'?" comic Larry Wilmore asked on The Nightly Show on Wednesday. "That's like telling Rudy Giuliani he can't use the word '9/11.' "

Comics, cartoonists and columnists have all jumped on the story, broken by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, in which former DEP employees said no one at the state agency was allowed to use the terms "climate change," "global warming" or "sustainability." As the story has gone viral, it has turned into one more way the Sunshine State has become the Punchline State.

"First rule of climate change in Florida: Don't mention climate change," smirked the website Mashable. A follow-up story by the FCIR said the ban extended beyond DEP to other state agencies as well, beginning with Gov. Rick Scott's election as governor in 2010.

"Can't we just ban the term 'Rick Scott'?" Wilmore asked on his Comedy Central show.

Even Secretary of State John Kerry got into the act Thursday. Although he did not name Scott, Kerry said in a speech, "We literally do not have the time to waste debating whether we can say 'climate change.' We have to solve climate change."

Except for a flat denial that he banned the term, Scott has refused to discuss the issue. On Wednesday, at an event at Port Manatee, Scott said he had "talked to people on both sides of the issue. What I've focused on is how do we get things done."

But when he was asked, "Do you want them to avoid that term?" Scott simply said, "Thanks, guys," and ended the brief news conference.

Although Scott's $9.2 million beachfront home in Naples is vulnerable to rising sea levels, he has never embraced climate change as a cause the way his predecessor, Charlie Crist, did. Crist blocked a coal-fired power plant from being built next to the Everglades, convened star-studded summits on the issue in Miami, and met with the British prime minister and other officials about joining forces to combat climate change.

When he first took office, Scott expressed strong doubts about climate change. "I've not been convinced that there's any man-made climate change," he said in a 2011 interview.

Scott's environmental focus was more on slashing the budgets of the state's water districts, and cutting the time for issuing a permit for dumping pollution or filling a wetland to an average of two days.

When he ran for re-election last year, his response to questions about climate change was, "I'm not a scientist."

In May, when a Palm Beach television station asked him about it, Scott said the state's emergency management division would handle any flooding problems — period.

So in the fall, five Florida scientists met with Scott to try to convince him that climate change is both real and a threat to Florida, the flattest state in the nation and one that's surrounded on three sides by rising waters. Scott was cordial but remained noncommittal.

On Thursday one of those scientists, Eckerd College professor David Hastings, said of the ban on the term "climate change": "It's discouraging."

His fellow scientists from around the country have commented to him that "they're amazed we could be this backward" in Florida, he said.

University of Florida marketing professor Aner Sela said the viral spread of stories such as this one can hurt Florida's image with business executives who might be considering moving their companies here — a subject Scott never tires of talking about.

"It's just another reason to laugh at Florida's expense," Sela said.

If Sela were in charge of repairing the state's image, he said he would "try to address the reasons for the ban" or perhaps play up scientific advances that have been made in Florida in the past.

"Florida has often been the laughingstock of the country," Hastings said. "This continues to reveal that we do some pretty silly things here."

Information from the Associated Press and the Bradenton Herald was used in this story. Contact Craig Pittman at [email protected] Follow @craigtimes.

Comments
Archer trade gets even better as Rays add promising young pitcher

Archer trade gets even better as Rays add promising young pitcher

NEW YORK — The return the Rays got from the Pirates for Chris Archer already looked good.Right-hander Tyler Glasnow has been increasingly impressive in three starts using his high-octane fastball and cruel breaking balls, and outfielder Austin ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays journal: Solid not good enough in loss to Yankees

Rays journal: Solid not good enough in loss to Yankees

NEW YORK — The Rays got another solid outing from LHP Jalen Beeks on Tuesday, though the few mistakes he did make were costly. Add their inability to muster much of anything offensively against J.A. Happ and two relievers, and the result was ye...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs could use another Tony Dungy to spark culture change

Bucs could use another Tony Dungy to spark culture change

TAMPA —  It seems a little odd, but Tony Dungy is just now being installed in the Bucs' Ring of Honor, two years after his bust was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Leave it to his former team.As if it matters to this man. Dungy...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Clearwater voters: a strong mayor question is official on the Nov. 6 ballot

Clearwater voters: a strong mayor question is official on the Nov. 6 ballot

CLEARWATER —It’s official. Voters will decide this fall whether Clearwater should change its government run by a professional city manager into a strong mayor system like Tampa and St. Petersburg.The City Council gave a final 3-2 vote on Tuesday to p...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Seminole man faces DUI manslaughter charges in deaths of father, son

Seminole man faces DUI manslaughter charges in deaths of father, son

SEMINOLE — A 60-year-old man was arrested Tuesday evening on two counts of DUI manslaughter in the July 28 chain-reaction crash that fatally injured a father and his son, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies arrested James Wolf ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Hillsborough schools will begin disclosing more data about lead in drinking water

Hillsborough schools will begin disclosing more data about lead in drinking water

TAMPA ­­— The Hillsborough County School District will begin publicly disclosing all locations where it finds lead in schools’ water, not just the samples that tested highest, an official said Tuesday.Detailed results from the testing lab could begin...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Shooter in Clearwater stand your ground case appears before judge

Shooter in Clearwater stand your ground case appears before judge

LARGO — Clad in orange jail scrubs, Michael Drejka made his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon via video monitor, one day after he was arrested on a manslaughter charge in the shooting of Markeis McGlockton.The proceeding was brief and perfunct...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Deputies: Pinellas County jail inmate died during surgery

Deputies: Pinellas County jail inmate died during surgery

ST. PETERSBURG — A jail inmate died Monday while undergoing surgery, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.Cesar Gonzales-Espana, 43, had suffered a medical episode at the Pinellas County jail on Saturday, the agency said, and was taken t...
Updated: 8 hours ago
State Vacuum and ‘Bernie Apestein’ may be waving goodbye to longtime location

State Vacuum and ‘Bernie Apestein’ may be waving goodbye to longtime location

For nearly 40 years, while wearing an eclectic mix of fashion, a mechanical gorilla has stood outside State Vacuum of Tampa, waving hello to Kennedy Boulevard motorists.His name is Bernie Apestein. "That gorilla has been a mainstay" said David Epstei...
Updated: 9 hours ago
MagneGas reports 200 percent hike in revenue for second quarter

MagneGas reports 200 percent hike in revenue for second quarter

MagneGas Corp., a Pinellas Park firm that makes a gas product used in metal working, reported a 201 percent spike in quarterly revenues on Tuesday. Its net loss increased from $2.2 million in the year-ago quarter to $3.5 million. Magnegas had $2.9 mi...
Updated: 9 hours ago