United States government workers have been instructed to modify the terminology they use when talking about climate change, now that Donald Trump’s at the helm. In emails obtained by The Guardian, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff were told to eschew the term ‘climate change’ in favor of ‘weather extremes.’ Center for Biological Diversity attorney Meg Townsend said the news uncovers the president’s “active censorship of science in the name of his political agenda.”


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US agriculture generates around 15 percent of the country’s emissions, according to The Guardian. So it would make sense for an agency overseeing farming to address climate change – but emails from after Trump’s inauguration reveal staffers have been told to shift their language on the phenomenon.

Related: Rex Tillerson advises diplomats to sidestep questions about the Paris climate deal

A February 16 email from Director Bianca Moebius-Clune at USDA unit Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), detailed terms staff should avoid and ones they should use instead. Under the Trump administration, ‘climate change adaption’ becomes ‘resilience to weather extremes.’ ‘Reduce greenhouse gases’ becomes ‘build organic soil matter, increase nutrient use efficiency.’ And ‘sequester carbon’ is to be avoided in favor of ‘build organic soil matter.’ Moebius-Clune said in the email they “won’t change the modeling, just how we talk about it.”

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An earlier email from January 24 from NRCS deputy chief for programs Jimmy Bramblett also indicated the agency’s shift, saying, “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 also advised “prudence” when talking about greenhouse gases and said work on air quality around these gases could be stopped.

Kaveh Sadeghzadeh of the NRCS said the organization “has not received direction from USDA or the administration to modify its communications on climate change or any other topic.”

Townsend told The Guardian, “To think that federal agency staff who report about the air, water, and soil that sustains the health of our nation must conform their reporting with the Trump administration’s anti-science rhetoric is appalling and dangerous for America and the greater global community.”

Via The Guardian

Images via Pixabay, Spencer Pugh on Unsplash and Nicola Jones on Flickr