Bioethics Blogs

War Against Science 2.0: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Ban ‘Em

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

The data of climate change is very strong: warmest average years on record, increasing extreme weather, higher carbon dioxide levels, changes in sea level, increasing droughts, decreasing snowpacks and sea ice, melting glaciers and permafrost, warmer oceans and increasing ocean acidity. With so much data in support of a changing climate, it is getting harder to be a climate denier.

What does one do when the facts disagree with your beliefs: You ban talking about the ideas. Scientists and employees in the state of Florida are under a soft ban not talk about “climate change,” “global warming,” “sea-level rise,” and “sustainability.” This unwritten policy was publicized last week when an employee of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was put on administrative leave for using these terms during an agency-wide conference call.

The latest salvo in the war against science is to censor any terms or ideas that conflict with official policy or with elected officials’ stated beliefs. In Florida, censorship of climate change terminology began in 2011 according to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. The lack of recognition is ironic and potentially tragic since Florida is the most vulnerable state to a major effect of climate change— rising sea levels. The Union of Concerned Scientists lists national landmarks at risk from climate change. No surprise, Florida has the largest number of landmarks on the list. The state that most needs to plan for the effects of climate change the most, is prevented from speaking on it.

Florida is not alone in denying the facts of science.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.