Monday, March 23, 2015

Government Follies, Florida Edition

Hey, I have a new piece up on the WWF ClimatePrep blog!

Wherein I get to talk about my favorite historian the brilliant Barbara Tuchman and her definition of government folly:

Government Folly in the Face of Climate Change (March 19, 2015)

As the piece was being prepared for publication I was wondering if the topic wasn't a little dated, since the momentum is only growing for governments to come to the climate change adaptation table, but then this happened:

Former Florida DEP employees say they were told not to use terms "climate change" or "global warming" (March 9, 2015)

In Florida, of all places. When people want to know in a 3 second sound-bite what I've learned from all my research and work in the adaptation field, I often joke: "don't buy land in Florida."

And now Governor Scott has gone one more step further down the folly-tastic path:

Crazy on you: Scott administration orders employee to get medical evaluation for considering "climate change." Wow. (March 19, 2015)

Wow, indeed.

Read his official reprimand if you want to look at the inner workings of an employee being silenced on the topic of climate change. Now, true, this isn't about burying an inconvenient scientific report about climate change hazards; it's about an administrator feeling like she is being put in a precarious position by an employee's efforts to advocate against the Keystone XL pipeline, citing climate change as a reason to oppose it. However, the employee being asked to get a mental health screening before returning to work strikes me as beyond the pale.

As of this past week, the Florida chapter of the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is taking up Florida Department of Environmental Protection employee Bart Bibler's case. The Florida PEER director Jerry Phillips says "Bart Bibler has no idea whether he will ever be allowed to return to work."

This kerfuffle in Florida doesn't meet Tuchman's definition of government folly (it's not collective folly: it's folly  resulting from the actions of an individual, the governor), but let's see how the Florida legislature respondsor doesn't.

Update: WWF's ClimatePrep blog apparently went defunct in 2018 and may not be revived.  I'm updating this blog's links to ClimatePrep to snapshots on (where available). Some articles look OK there, some not so OK. For a readable version with images intact, see my ClimatePrep articles as reconstructed on this blog:

• Head in the Clouds: The Dream of Harvesting Water from Fog
June 08, 2017

• Story Maps: A Rising Star of Climate Change Communication
April 10, 2017

• The Sea Level Rise Solution that is as Charismatic as Mud
February 17, 2017

• The Internet of Water - October 31, 2016

• Sea Level Rise Seen with New Eyes: the OWLs of San Mateo
August 30, 2016

• California: The Rebeavering
May 22, 2015

• Government Folly in the Face of Climate Change
March 19, 2015

• In the Heat of the Moment
December 02, 2014

• California’s Adaptation Clarion Call
September 02, 2014

• Farmland in Flux
July 8, 2014

• Honest Conversations: Climate Change and Uncertainty
December 12, 2013