U.S. Federal Agency Censors Staff From Using the Term “Climate Change”

Employees at a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture were told not to use the term “climate change” in their communication and reports, according to emails obtained by The Guardian.

In a February 16 email to staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an arm of the USDA, Bianca Moebius-Clune, director of soil health, wrote that the term “climate change” should be replaced with “weather extremes,” “climate change adaption” with “resilience to weather extremes,” and “reduce greenhouse gases” with “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency.” Moebius-Clune noted that a colleague from the USDA’s public affairs office suggested employees “tamp down on discretionary messaging right now,” The Guardian reported.

In another email to senior employees on January 24, Jimmy Bramblett, deputy chief for programs at the NRCS, wrote, “It has become clear one of the previous administration’s priority (sic) 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.”

Since entering office, President Trump and his administration have worked to cut funding for climate change research, begun pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, and weakened regulations and programs aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The administration also has yet to approve a completed report on the status of climate change science, part of the Congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment.