Florida’s New ‘Don’t Say Climate Change’ Law Receives Backlash During Overwhelming Heat Wave

By: Lauren | Published: May 26, 2024

Florida’s Republican Governor has passed yet another piece of controversial legislation, this time, about the planet’s unquestionably changing climate.

A popular South Florida meteorologist called out the Sunshine State and its “Don’t Say Climate Change” bill, telling his viewers that the best possible thing they can do to protect themselves from the ongoing unbearable heat is to vote. Most likely for someone other than DeSantis.

Florida’s “Don’t Say Climate Change” Bill

In 2022, Gov. DeSantis passed the Parental Rights in Education Act, but within just days of the announcement, everyone was calling it the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Essentially, the bill prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms, i.e., teachers and students cannot “say gay.”

A photograph of Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, speaking during an event

Source: @YahooFinance/YouTube

Now, only two years later, DeSantis has passed yet another act which many argue is denying reality. The bill, which focuses on Florida’s energy policy, never uses the words “climate change.” Instead, they opted for “climate-friendly,” but Florida isn’t fooling anyone.


Florida’s Energy Policy Bill Never Uses the Words “Climate Change”

Not only was the term “climate” removed from eight different locations within the bill, but it also included several clauses that clearly show that the Sunshine State is not concerned with the state of the planet.

Photograph of an offshore wind farm

Source: Freepik

One noticeable facet of the bill is that it actually bans any future offshore wind energy farms from the sprawling coasts of Florida. Even though there are no plans for Florida wind farms at the moment, the idea that none can be created in the future is certainly concerning to environmentalists around the state and the country.

Florida Awards Preferential Treatment to Fossil Fuel Companies

To make matters even worse, Florida’s so-called “climate-friendly” bill actually awards preferential treatment to local fossil fuel companies.

A photograph of a factory emitting carbon emissions into the air as the sun sets

Source: Freepik

The new policy will repeal energy efficiency grant programs, fund extensive resiliency programs for natural gas facilities, and actually make fossil fuels, like gas and oil, cheaper for Florida residents.

Everyone Knows DeSantis Is a Climate Change Denier

Although some are surprised by the newly written climate policy bill and its lack of attention to the changing climate, everyone already knows that Gov. DeSantis is a climate change denier.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pauses during a speech at an event

Source: Shutterstock

Even when he was running for governor, DeSantis told his prospective constituents that he planned to replace the words “climate change” with “energy dominance,” and he called himself “not a global warming person.”

Florida Is Feeling the Effects of Climate Change More Than Many Other States

What’s especially shocking about DeSantis’ complete denial of this looming issue is that Florida has experienced more negative side effects from climate change than almost any other state.

An underwater photograph of a coral reef which has died due to coral bleaching

Source: iStock

Florida has 1,350 miles of coastline. Over the past decade, its essential coastal ecosystems have been all but destroyed thanks to warming oceans and rising sea levels—which, of course, are both side effects of climate change.


Florida Under Heat Advisory for the First Time in 15 Years

But one doesn’t have to care about the nature around them to be affected by the changing climate in Florida. Right now, the state is experiencing a massive heat wave. The National Weather Service issued a heat warning for the first time in 15 years this week.

A photograph of a thermometer showing extremely high temperatures at a beach while two children play in the background

Source: Depositphotos

But heat isn’t the only problem. Climate change also causes extreme weather, such as flooding, tropical storms, hurricanes, and shifts in rainfall patterns, all of which Florida has experienced over the past few years.


South Florida Meteorologist Speaks Out Against the “Don’t Say Climate Change Bill”

As the temperature continued to rise in Florida the same week DeSantis announced his “Don’t Say Climate Change” bill, one meteorologist simply couldn’t keep quiet anymore.

A still of meteorologist Steve MacLaughlin from NBC6 speaking out in support of climate change

Source: @SteveMacNBC6/X

Steve MacLaughlin from NBC6 announced during his segment on May 18, “The entire world is looking to Florida to lead in climate change. Our government is saying that climate change is no longer the priority it once was.”


Meteorologist Tells Florida Residents to Vote for Change

MacLaughlin continued, “Please keep in mind the most powerful climate change solution is the one you already have in the palm of your hands — the right to vote.”

An American woman fills out a voter form next to a US flag

Source: Freepik

He also said, “We will never tell you who to vote for but we will tell you this: We implore you to please do your research and know that there are candidates that believe in climate change and that there are solutions, and there are candidates that don’t.”


Florida Meteorologist Took a Big Risk Talking About Climate Change

Millions of people, including other meteorologists, applauded MacLaughlin’s decision to speak out on live television against the state’s complete denial of the ongoing climate change problem. Chief meteorologist at WFLA, Jeff Berardelli, said, “This is not an easy statement for a meteorologist to make, as there is a lot of pressure to not wade into these climate waters. Big kudos to Steve for being bold and honest”

A close-up photograph of an email icon on a smartphone

Source: Freepik

Several other journalists, reporters, and meteorologists who have previously done the same have received extreme backlash, including threats and abuse through emails when they took a stance against climate change deniers.


90% of Florida Residents Believe Climate Change Is Happening

Florida is technically a swing state, meaning that sometimes they vote Blue and others Red. However, Florida has voted Republican in 12 of the last 17 presidential elections, so it’s safe to say the Republicans may be pulling ahead.

Several people hold cardboard signs at a climate change protest

Source: Freepik

Surprisingly, even though the Republican party has been famously unconcerned with climate change, 90% of Florida residents absolutely believe in climate change. That’s a higher percentage than almost any other state in the country.


The Future of Florida Is at Risk

Even though the vast majority of the population is concerned about the effects of climate change and wants the government to take action, their leaders, including Gov. DeSantis, seem to be doing everything in their power to ignore the issue.

Aerial view of the Florida coast, including the cityscape, the beach, and the ocean

Source: iStock

DeSantis has another two years in office, but when 2026 rolls around, Florida residents should remember the meteorologist’s warning and vote for someone who will protect their state and their planet.