Sounds ominously like the infant stages of totalitarianism…
Shortly after Rick Scott (R-FL) was elected governor, Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection moved forward with an unwritten policy banning the terms “climate change” and “global warming” from use by the department.
Now, according to Bloomberg, Republicans in Wisconsin, favoring greed over public good, are following Florida’s lead. Matt Adamczyk, Republican State Treasurer and Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) board member, recommended that BCPL employees are banned from working on climate change related issues while on state time. The board passed the ban in a 2-1 vote on Tuesday.
Adamczyk explained his motivation for banning BCPL staff from addressing climate change:
“It’s not a part of our sole mission, which is to make money for our beneficiaries. That’s what I want our employees working on. That’s it. Managing our trust funds.”
It appears Adamczyk is primarily concerned that the board’s executive secretary, Tia Nelson, will ‘diddle away’ time addressing the impact of climate change on public lands rather than focusing on making “money for our beneficiaries.”
Nelson is the daughter of former Senator Gaylord Nelson, a champion of conservationism that founded Earth Day in the state. Tia Nelson is a conservationist as well. She ran the Nature Conservancy’s climate change initiative for 17 years. However, she hasn’t worked on a climate change related project for years.
Nelson responded to Adamczyk’s paranoid accusation that she’s been “engaging on this topic for years” by informing him:
“Just for the record, I haven’t worked on climate change in any direct manner since the year 2008—or 2007.”
According to Bloomberg, climate change directly affects Wisconsin’s public lands. Not being able to address the topic leaves staff unable to discuss how climate change might impact the lands it oversees:
“The Midwest warmed about 1.5F on average from 1895 to 2012. Pine, maple, birch, spruce, fir, aspen, and beech forests, which are common in the region, are likely to decline as the century progresses, according to the latest U.S. National Climate Assessment. ‘Climate change may threaten forests in the Midwest,’ according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. ‘Threats include more frequent droughts, wildfires, and larger populations of harmful insects such as gypsy moths.’”
Wisconsin Secretary of State Douglas La Follette is the sole Democrat sitting on the board and the only board member that voted against the ban. He believes Adamczyk has a political vendetta against Nelson. In a previous meeting, La Follette mentioned that Adamczyk’s antagonism toward Nelson bordered on that of “an irresponsible witch hunt.”
La Follette finds the ban to be nonsense:
“Having been on this board for close to 30 years, I’ve never seen such nonsense,” La Follette said in the conference call on Tuesday. “We’ve reached the point now where we’re going to try to gag employees from talking about issues. In this case, climate change. That’s as bad as the governor of Florida recently telling his staff that they could not use the words ‘climate change.’”
Banning work on climate change or use of the term isn’t going to solve the problem. Climate change is one of the most serious, if not the most serious, long term issue we face. We need elected officials ready to take on the challenge and lead on this issue, not those suffering from an ideologically driven denial of it.