USDA Staff Got Told To Avoid The Words “Climate Change,” Because That'll Help

by Lilli Petersen
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We all have things that we don't like to talk about, but if you're a member of government conservation efforts, “climate change” maybe shouldn't be one of them. Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have reportedly been advised not to use the phrase “climate change” in their work, according to a new report from The Guardian. Because if we don't talk about it, it's not real, right?

Staff at the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) were reportedly told to avoid a list of climate-related terms.

Instead, they were given new phrases to replace them.

Staff were allegedly advised to say “weather extremes” as opposed to “climate change,” “resilience to weather extremes” instead of “climate change adaption,” and even “build soil organic matter” instead of “reduce greenhouse gases.” The division, which oversees farmers' land conservation, was apparently told about the new language guidance in a series of emails obtained by The Guardian.

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A February 16 email reportedly said that the language had been given to the staff.

“We won't change the modeling, just how we talk about it,” the email from Bianca Moebius-Clune, director of soil health, allegedly read, advising that the new phrasing be passed on.

Another email from deputy chief for programs, Jimmy Bramblett, in late January reportedly instructed staff that the Obama-era priority of climate change “is not consistent with that of the incoming administration.” It also said that staff should be careful discussing greenhouse gases, and that work on air quality and those gases could be ended.

In contrast, the February email said that references to economic growth and business opportunities should be “tolerated if not appreciated," apparently.

The shift in priorities is very much in line with the Trump administration.

Despite scientific consensus, President Trump has been very critical of climate change science, calling it a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese for financial gain, and moving to take the United States out of the Paris climate accords, an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He also took umbrage with the term "climate change," often saying that was a marketing tactic to rebrand an agenda.

Trump also appointed noted climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in April the EPA deleted most climate change information from its website, citing “new leadership,” per CNN.

Sticking your head in the sand about climate change doesn't make it any less dangerous, though.

Nor, I should note, does it protect your head very well from climate-related "weather extremes," like 2012's Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast or 2013's Supertyphoon Haiyan in the Philippines, both of which caused devastating damage and were likely made worse by climate change.

No matter what euphemisms it's given, the vast majority of experts agree that climate change is both real and human influenced. The active-for-now NASA page on climate change notes that "97 percent or more" of climate scientists are in agreement that the planet is getting warmer, and cites statements from 18 different scientific organization (and links to many more) in support of the conclusion.

No matter what the Trump administration might like, climate change can't just be wiped away. Though the rest of us might be, if these climate-change related floods can't get under control.