John Kerry criticizes Florida governor for banning words ‘climate change’

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures at an Atlantic Council discussion on "The Road to Paris' Climate Series: The Significance of Conference of Parties 21" in Washington March 12, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures at an Atlantic Council discussion on “The Road to Paris’ Climate Series: The Significance of Conference of Parties 21” in Washington March 12, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that elected officials who ban the words “climate change” are unwilling to face the facts, a non-so-subtle dig at Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s administration.

Kerry, a longtime champion of combatting climate change, said the officials were ignoring the scientific facts.

“Now folks, we literally do not have the time to waste debating whether we can say ‘climate change,'” Kerry said during a speech at The Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank. “Because no matter how much people want to bury their heads in the sand, it will not alter the fact that 97 percent of peer-reviewed climate studies confirm that climate change is happening and that human activity is largely responsible.”

Kerry did not refer to Scott by name but said that he had read in the last “couple of days” reports about the ban.

Scott, a Republican who is skeptical of climate science and said he was not a scientist when asked about global warming predictions, has denied claims that he banned officials from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming.” But former officials interviewed by The Associated Press and by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting said they were told not to use them, even though the Florida is considered one of the most vulnerable states to changes expected from a warming climate.

Kerry’s remarks continue a trend by Obama administration officials to aggressively address politicians skeptical of climate science as they prepare to issue final regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and to broker an international agreement to address global warming later this year.

But even some Republicans are urging fellow members of their party to accept the facts.

“Call it what you are going to call it, you can’t change what is going on,” said Christine Todd Whitman, Environmental Protection Agency administrator under Republican President George W. Bush, in an interview with The Associated Press Thursday.

Last year, at a speech before the League of Conservation Voters, President Barack Obama shot back at climate deniers in Congress.

“In most communities and workplaces, they may not know how big a problem it is, they may not know exactly how it works, they may doubt they can do something about it. Generally, they don’t just say, ‘No, I don’t believe anything scientists say,'” Obama said. “Except where? Congress.”

Not much has changed. Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 98-1 that climate change was not a hoax and real, but blocked efforts to attach language to a bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline that it was being caused by the burning of fossil fuels. The bill was ultimately vetoed by Obama.

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