TV meteorologist criticizes Florida's new 'Don't Say Climate Change' law amid oppressive heat

As much of Florida burned in oppressive heat over the weekend, South Florida television meteorologist Steve MacLaughlin criticized the state's new legislation that removed most references to climate change from state law and urged his viewers to vote.

“The whole world is looking to Florida to lead the way on climate change,” NBC 6's MacLaughlin said in a May 18 segment. “Our government is saying climate change is no longer the priority it once was.”

MacLaughlin's comments come as South Florida experiences exceptional heat in May. The extreme temperatures prompted the National Weather Service to issue the first heat warning for May in 15 years on Friday. The month was the warmest May on record for much of South Florida.

Just days earlier, Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a controversial bill that removed many references to climate change from state law – a measure MacLaughlin called “Don't Say Climate Change” in his X post. Several changes have been made to the state's energy policy, in some cases removing entire sections that discussed the importance of reducing pollution caused by a warming planet. It also gave preferential treatment to fossil fuels and banned offshore wind energy, although no wind farms are planned off the coast of Florida.

Florida's coastal ecosystems have been severely damaged by coral bleaching, and homes and businesses are at risk of flooding due to rising sea levels. The term “climate” was dropped eight times in the bill — often in reference to reducing fossil fuel emissions through energy policy or directing state agencies to purchase “climate-friendly” products when they were inexpensive and available.

“Please remember that the most effective solution to climate change is the one you already have in your hands – the right to vote,” MacLaughlin said. “And we will never tell you who to vote for, but we will tell you this: We ask that you please do your research and know that there are candidates who believe in climate change and that there are solutions and there are candidates who don't believe.” T.”

Other TV meteorologists praised MacLaughlin for his strong statements, particularly at a time when climate communicators, journalists, meteorologists and national weather services reported an increase in harassment, threats and abuse for linking extreme weather events to climate change.

“That's not an easy statement for a meteorologist to make as the pressure is on not to wade into these climate waters,” Jeff Berardelli, WFLA's chief meteorologist in Tampa Bay, said in response to the video clip MacLaughlin had posted on X, that has been viewed more than 350,000 times. “Kudos to Steve for his courage and honesty.”

Last year, a senior TV meteorologist at an Iowa news station resigned after receiving a series of harassing emails from some viewers.

“This is a unique time to be bold,” John Morales, certified consulting meteorologist at ClimaData and former chief meteorologist at NBC Miami, said on X, urging other meteorologists to follow suit.

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