The Donald Trump administration has directed the staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) avoid using the term “climate change,” instead, they have been told to call it “weather extremes”.
According to The Guardian, other words asked to avoid are “climate change adaption”, “reduce greenhouse gases” and “sequester carbon”.
Series of emails between staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation, which was obtained by The Guardian says to use the phrases “resilience to weather extremes,” “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency”, and “build soil organic matter”.
The clampdown comes as President Donald Trump further distances the US from global moves to limit global warming. Last week, the US formally announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
When talking about the cause “weather extremes”, saying people should “reduce greenhouse gases” is a big no-no. Rather, staff should talk in favour of “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency,” the report says.
The Guardian report added that public relations staff from the USDA had advised departments should “tamp down on discretionary messaging right now”.
However, the USDA denied it was limited discussion of climate change. In a statement, the department said, “this guidance, similar to procedures issued by previous administrations, was misinterpreted by some to cover data and scientific publications.”
Lashing out at the move, an attorney Meg Townsend said that, “these records reveal Trump’s active censorship of science in the name of his political agenda”. She added that the fact that a government agency which reports about the air, water, soil and health of the country, itself, “must conform its reporting with the Trump administration’s anti-science rhetoric, is appalling and dangerous for America”.
Activists and Democrats have scrutinised Trump’s climate agenda since he became president in January. They have especially raised concerns that he would begin deleting vast amounts of climate data on various government websites.