In Florida, Porn Is A Greater Public Health Risk Than Climate Change

Florida Gov. Rick Scott.Gage Skidmore/Flickr

A state that barred using the terms "climate change" and "global warming" now declares porn a public health risk.

The state of Florida is close to declaring pornography a public health risk, with Republican state Rep. Ross Spano's resolution sailing through a House committee in an 18-1 vote.

Spano initially wanted to use stronger language and declare pornography a public health crisis, but he thought it better to soften the wording in order to garner support.

The lone 'no' vote came from Republican Rep. Cary Pigman, who happens to be a medical doctor.

"We have problems with hypertension, with obesity, with diabetes, with Zika. We have a whole list of things that are important medically. I'm not so sure that we need to spend legislative time annunciating a specific complaint when we have others that are far more pressing," he said.

Pigman hits on an important point - no matter how one feels about the moral or social consequences of pornography, there are more pressing matters to deal with.

And especially in the the Sunshine State, one might be tempted to believe climate change - with its threat of rising sea-levels and stronger storms - would deserve the label "crisis" that Spano so badly wanted to give to porn.

But one would be wrong to make such an assumption.

Not quite two years ago, it came to light that the Florida Department of Energy was banned from using the terms "climate change" and "global warming" in official communications, affecting reports, educational efforts and public policy.

“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

“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.

This is despite the fact that more than 30 percent of Florida's beaches are threatened by sea-level rise over the next 85 years. But the science backing up such claims was not convincing enough for Governor Rick Scott.

This unwritten policy went into effect after Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011 and appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as the DEP’s director, according to former DEP employees. Gov. Scott, who won a second term in November, has repeatedly said he is not convinced that climate change is caused by human activity, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

To recap Florida's priorities: pornography poses a public health crisis; climate change is not worth talking about.

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