Column: Planet has no vote, but you do

You walk into a voting booth, and you have choices. You can vote according to your socioeconomic status, views on marriage equality, or preference on war or marijuana legalization — because you are a person, and these are the qualities, identities and opinions that side you with a political party.

But clouds, trees, water and endangered animals do not get to enter a voting booth. So, why should we vote to decide on whether we should conserve the environment?

Climate change should not be political, and it should not be ignored. This is a bipartisan issue that continues to take the backseat with all political parties, despite the fact that it has begun to negatively affect everyone.

Yes, everyone.

Recently, controversy has sparked in Florida over rumors that Gov. Rick Scott banned the word “climate change” for government employees.

Neither confirmed nor denied by any specific group of people, this struggle brings to light the political side of climate change.

The New Republic published an article that explained some more background into the situation.

“Several ex-state employees, as well as contractors, researchers and volunteers, have come forward to say that they were told not to use the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ in any official communications, reports and emails,” Tristram Korten writes.

This also confirmed that, since Scott was elected in 2011, references to climate change in Department of Environmental Protection reports and documents severely declined.

So, we should ask ourselves, why does climate change have a political motivation? Is it because large companies that do not support clean energy back politicians? Is it due to religious reasons? But most importantly, what is this doing to America’s freedom of speech?

Derek Bambauer, a professor of law at the UA, agreed that this is an interesting issue.

“Normally, of course, government cannot ban speech,” he said. “Content-based restrictions undergo strict scrutiny and almost always lose.” Bambauer also added that it looks like “viewpoint discrimination.”

Just because Scott might not be the No. 1 fan of climate change does not mean that he should attempt to silence the issue statewide. The climate will keep adapting and changing and affecting our lives, no matter the permitted language.

Bambauer said he thinks this is a deeply problematic topic, also bringing up the fact that most of Florida is within a few feet of sea level, making this issue crucial for the state.

However, Bambauer said he doesn’t think that this would be considered unconstitutional when the First Amendment debate is brought to the table.

“We ought to rethink how much leeway we give the government as an employer to restrict speech,” Bambauer said.

So, as many Floridians and other American citizens search for the truth in this situation and gear up to fight this bizarre ban, just think how this could affect our entire nation if the government was given enough power to become our employers.

As all political parties will continue to fight one another on money, social and climate issues, don’t forget that our environment is the only faction that is unable to speak for itself.

Mother Nature might be unruly, but she sure isn’t as brutal as politicians these days.

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Trey Ross is a journalism sophomore. Follow her on Twitter.


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