Monday, March 9, 2015

when "climate change" is unnecessary

I've seen a few condescending references on Twitter to a report that the terms "climate change" and "global warming" are not allowed at Florida's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

I'm citing the current article as it provides good excuse to also reference intellectually provocative articles with challenging facts such as:
Those who say they “do believe” [in evolution] are no more likely to be able to give a high-school biology-exam-quality account of how evolution works than those who say they “don’t.”
In Florida, officials ban term 'climate change' | Miami Herald
DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
“We were dealing with the effects and economic impact of climate change, and yet we can’t reference it,” the former employee said.
Former DEP attorney Byrd said it was clear to him this was more than just semantics.
“It’s an indication that the political leadership in the state of Florida is not willing to address these issues and face the music when it comes to the challenges that climate change present,” Byrd said.
Image from Miami Herald article
The image that leads on the web page for the article is of a writer contracted to write a series of educational fact sheets about how to protect the coral reefs north of Miami. ‘We were told not to use the term climate change,’ he said. ‘

Maybe he was told that because it's a stupid thing to do.

The article reminded me of an article on the work of Dan Kahan I referenced in IPCC reports? We don't need no IPCC reports (the first quote in this article is from Kahan). It's possible Florida's DEP has developed a communication strategy intended to accomplish things other than flashing tribal allegiances.

Striving for a Climate Change | The Chronicle of Higher Education
Six years ago, Florida’s southern counties thought it would help to coordinate their responses to the rising ocean. At the least, they should be working from common projections. So they proposed the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, covering all the land from Palm Beach to Key West. It seemed a logical response. But the atmosphere shifted rapidly, as Republican skeptics like Rick Scott and Marco Rubio came to dominate Florida’s discussion of global warming. After a few years, a plan that would have extended some of the coordination to the three counties north of Palm Beach was undermined by furious crowds of Tea Party supporters swarming into public meetings. All three counties withdrew from the plan. There were concerns that Palm Beach, the most right-leaning county in the existing climate compact, might similarly abandon the project.
A couple of years ago, Kahan approached the compact, offering free help.

If tribes sniff a threat, "they’re going to do what tribes do," he says. But "there are ways to get around that and not trap yourself in that, by the language you use and the way you engage people."
The compact’s campaign, in the end, was not about messaging or finding magic words. Its communication strategy was its process. Through dozens of forums, Kahan says, many led by business and community leaders, the compact flooded Southeast Florida with exactly the information that ordinary people use to know what’s known to science: the example of people they trust using science to assist their decisions. And when a radio host, serving as a panel moderator, tried to inject tropes of the national climate debate into the meetings ("What do Republicans in Washington have against science?"), local leaders gently pointed out that three of the four counties have Republican mayors, or that 100 local businesses support the plans because they can see what’s happening. "I don’t think it is about party," they’d say. "I think it is about understanding what the problems are and fixing them."

Related: Climate Science as Culture War | Stanford Social Innovation Review

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