TV meteorologist blasts Florida’s new ‘Don’t Say Climate Change’ law amid oppressive heat

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As vast parts of Florida sweltered in oppressive heat over the weekend, South Florida TV meteorologist Steve MacLaughlin criticized the state’s new legislation that deleted most references to climate change from state law, and urged his viewers to vote.

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

MacLaughlin’s comments come as South Florida swelters in exceptional heat for the month of May. The extreme temperatures prompted the National Weather Service to issue the first May heat advisory in 15 years on Friday. The month so far has been the warmest May on record for much of South Florida.

Just days earlier, Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a controversial bill that deleted many references of climate change from state laws – a measure that MacLaughlin called in his X post, “Don’t Say Climate Change.” It made several changes to the state’s energy policy, in some cases deleting entire sections that discussed the importance of cutting planet-warming pollution. It also gave preferential treatment to fossil fuel and banned offshore wind energy, even though there are no wind farms planned off Florida’s coast.

“Don’t Say Climate Change!” As Florida is on fire, under water and unaffordable, our state government is rolling back climate change legislation and language. #nbc6 #climateincrisis @nbc6 @CLEOInstitute @ClimateCentral

— Steve MacLaughlin (@SteveMacNBC6) May 19, 2024

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Florida’s coastal ecosystems have been ravaged by severe coral bleaching and its homes and businesses face inundation from sea level rise. The bill deleted the term “climate” eight times — often in reference to reducing fossil fuel emissions through its energy policy or directing state agencies to buy “climate friendly” products when those products were cost-effective and available.

“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,” MacLaughlin said. “And 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.”

Aside from crazy-2023, the heat index has ALREADY spent more time above the 108°F threshold (and tied for the most at 110°+) in #Miami than in *any other entire year*. And it’s not even June yet.

— Brian McNoldy (@BMcNoldy) May 20, 2024

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Other TV meteorologists praised MacLaughlin for delivering such strong remarks, especially during a time where climate communicators, journalists, meteorologists and national weather services have reported an increase in harassment, threats and abuse for connecting extreme weather events to climate change.

“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,” Jeff Berardelli, the chief meteorologist at WFLA in Tampa Bay, said in response to the video clip MacLaughlin had posted on X, which has been viewed more than 350,000 times. “Big kudos to Steve for being bold and honest.”

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

“This is a time like no other to be courageous,” John Morales, a certified consulting meteorologist at ClimaData and the former chief meteorologist at NBC Miami, said on X, urging more meteorologists to follow suit.

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