Saturday, 19 August, 2017

USDA office bans phrase 'climate change' from use - this is why

Euphemize this Euphemize this
Saul Franklin | 09 August, 2017, 00:26

The reasoning, another NRCS official said: "It has become clear one of the previous administration's priority (sic) is not consistent with that of the incoming administration".

Three weeks later, another staffer emailed the list of terms to avoid. "Climate change" is in the "avoid" category, to be replaced by "weather extremes".

She also said that the term "reduce greenhouse gases" was to be avoided and called "build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency" instead, while "sequester carbon" was to be replaced by "build soil organic matter". She also wrote that she thought references to economic growth, new business opportunities, and agro-tourism were positive developments that staff should appreciate or at least tolerate. She wrote 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 [sic], 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".

However, the guidance sent to USDA employees seems to reflect a broader policy shift on climate change across multiple agencies, and the Trump administration's war on science is hardly a secret.

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry have both said that they do not believe humans cause climate change and have continuously questioned scores of studies proving the effects of a changing climate and global warming.

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Last week, Trump's administration officially told the United Nations that the U.S. intends to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. On Feb. 16, 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".

The emails, dated from earlier in 2017, were sent internally to staffers at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a small agency at the USDA that's tasked with maintaining the health of United States soil, air, and water for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. "At USDA, we rely on sound science and we remain firmly committed to digging ever deeper into research to develop better methods of agricultural production in that changing climate". And on June 5, an employee said that "we would prefer to keep the language [referring to climate change] as is". The USDA website still points visitors to a Climate Change Program Office as well as a "climate change adaptation plan", among other climate change-related pages.

In emails obtained by The Guardian, USDA officials reportedly told employees that it's time to change the conversation abotu climate change.

USA agriculture is a major source of heat-trapping gases, with 15 percent of the country's emissions deriving from farming practices.

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