Here is link to the 2017 Climate Change Report sponsored by the US government, and published by the NY Times: Read the Draft of the Climate Change Report – The New York Times 8/7/17 (A draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public, but was obtained by The New York Times, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. The report was completed this year and is part of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. )
Because of the republican President Donald Trump’s administration’s disdain for climate change issues, many are concerned whether this report will be shared with the American taxpayers, and if it is, how heavily censored the report will be, and thus, we have this latest leak.
Here’s the rest of the story…
On August 7, 2017, Oliver Milman of The Guardian penned the following report, “US federal department is censoring use of term “climate change,” emails reveal.”
Exclusive: series of emails show staff at Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service advised to reference ‘weather extremes’ instead
USDA’s advice on climate change language
Avoid → use instead
Climate change → weather extremes
Climate change adaptation → resilience to weather extremes/intense weather events: drought, heavy rain, spring ponding
Reduce greenhouse gases → build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency
Sequester carbon → build soil organic
“Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term climate change in their work, with the officials instructed to reference “weather extremes” instead.”
“A series of emails obtained by the Guardian between staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation, show that the incoming Trump administration has had a stark impact on the language used by federal employees around climate change.”
A missive from Bianca Moebius-Clune, director of soil health, lists terms that should be avoided by staff and those that should replace them. “Climate change” is in the “avoid” category, to be replaced by “weather extremes”. Instead of “climate change adaption”, staff are asked to use “resilience to weather extremes”.
“The primary cause of human-driven climate change is also targeted, with the term “reduce greenhouse gases” blacklisted in favor of “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency”. Meanwhile, “sequester carbon” is ruled out and replaced by “build soil organic matter”.
“In her email to staff, dated 16 February this year, Moebius-Clune said the new language was given to her staff and suggests it be passed on. She writes that “we won’t change the modeling, just how we talk about it – there are a lot of benefits to putting carbon back in the sail, climate mitigation is just one of them”, and that a colleague from USDA’s public affairs team gave advice to “tamp down on discretionary messaging right now”.
“In contrast to these newly contentious climate terms, Moebius-Clune wrote that references to economic growth, emerging business opportunities in the rural US, agro-tourism and “improved aesthetics” should be “tolerated if not appreciated by all”.
“In a separate email to senior employees on 24 January, just days after Trump’s inauguration, Jimmy Bramblett, deputy chief for programs at the NRCS, said: “It has become clear one of the previous administration’s priority is not consistent with that of the incoming administration. Namely, that priority is climate change. Please visit with your staff and make them aware of this shift in perspective within the executive branch.”
“Bramblett added that “prudence” should be used when discussing greenhouse gases and said the agency’s work on air quality regarding these gases could be discontinued.”
“Other emails show the often agonized discussions between staff unsure of what is forbidden. On 16 February, a staffer named Tim Hafner write to Bramblett: “I would like to know correct terms I should use instead of climate changes and anything to do with carbon … I want to ensure to incorporate correct terminology that the agency has approved to use.”
“On 5 April, Suzanne Baker, a NY-based NRCS employee, emailed a query as to whether staff are “allowed to publish work from outside the USDA that use ‘climate change’”. A colleague advises that the issue be determined in a phone call.”
“Some staff weren’t enamored with the new regime, with one employee stating on an email on 5 July that “we would prefer to keep the language as is” and stressing the need to maintain the “scientific integrity of the work”.
“In a statement, USDA said that on 23 January it had issued “interim operating procedures outlining procedures to ensure the new policy team has an opportunity to review policy-related statements, legislation, budgets and regulations prior to issuance”.
“The statement added: “This guidance, similar to procedures issued by previous administrations, was misinterpreted by some to cover data and scientific publications. This was never the case and USDA interim procedures will allow complete, objective information for the new policy staff reviewing policy decisions.”
“Kaveh Sadeghzadeh of the Natural Resources Conservation Service added that his organisation “has not received direction from USDA or the administration to modify its communications on climate change or any other topic”.
“Trump has repeatedly questioned the veracity of climate change research, infamously suggesting that it is part of an elaborate Chinese hoax. The president has started the process of withdrawing the US from the Paris climate agreement, has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to scrap or amend various regulations aimed at cutting greenhouse gases, and has moved to open up more public land and waters to fossil fuel activity.”
“The nomenclature of the federal government has also shifted as these new priorities have taken hold. Mentions of the dangers of climate change have been removed from the websites of the White House and the Department of the Interior, while the EPA scrapped its entire online climate section in April pending a review that will be “updating language to reflect the approach of new leadership”.
“These records reveal Trump’s active censorship of science in the name of his political agenda,” said Meg Townsend, open government attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.”
“The Center for Biological Diversity is currently suing several government agencies, including the EPA and state department, to force them to release information on the “censoring” of climate change verbiage.”
“The emails from within the USDA are the clearest indication yet that staff have been instructed to steer clear of acknowledging climate change or its myriad consequences.”
“US agriculture is a major source of heat-trapping gases, with 15% of the country’s emissions deriving from farming practices. A USDA plan to address the “far reaching” impacts of climate change is still online.”
“However, Sam Clovis, Trump’s nomination to be the USDA’s chief scientist, has labeled climate research “junk science”.
“Last week it was revealed that Clovis, who is not a scientist, once ran a blog where he called progressives “race traders and race ‘traitors’” and likened Barack Obama to a communist.”