USDA employees discussed changing the term "climate change" to "weather extremes"
Trump has questioned the scientific consensus on man-made impact on rising temperatures
Goodbye climate change. Hello “weather extremes.”
That’s part of a list of language changes suggested in newly released emails among Agriculture Department officials as employees search for new ways to describe their work under the Trump administration.
An email obtained by CNN advised Natural Resources Conservation Service employees to avoid the term “Climate Change” and to instead use “Weather Extremes.” Instead of “Climate Change Adaptation,” the recommended terms include “Resilience to Weather Extremes.” Rather than “reducing greenhouse gases,” the emails suggest: “Build Soil Organic Matter, increase nutrient use efficiency.”
President Donald Trump has consistently questioned the scientific consensus behind human impact on rising global temperatures and associated effects. The President has pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accords and the Environmental Protection Agency is working to roll back regulations meant to limit carbon dioxide emissions.
The Guardian first reported on the emails.
Despite the emails, the agency says the incoming Trump administration did not request the language change.
“These emails, sent in the first days of the new administration to a small number of agency staff, did not reflect the direction of senior agency leadership,” NRCS spokesman Kaveh Sadeghzadeh told CNN.
The NRCS is an arm of the Agriculture Department that advises and assists farmers on topics ranging from finance to conservation.
The language changes were discussed as a messaging shift, not a change in mission.
“We won’t change the modeling,” one NRCS official wrote. “just how we talk about it — there are a lot of benefits to putting carbon back in the soil, climate mitigation is just one of them.”
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. Namely, that priority is climate change.”
An agency official said a career manager, rather than a political appointee, developed the guidance that was sent on the fourth day of the Trump administration. The official said the manager was acting on his own accord. Three weeks later, another staffer emailed the list of terms to avoid.
“What the emails reflected were jumping the gun a little bit, saying, ‘Hey this is where we’re going to be going,’” said the agency official, who asked not to be named to discuss the internal communications.
The official said the agency isn’t changing the way they operate “in any way, shape or form,” including its approach to science or advice to farmers. Information on climate change, the official noted, remains on the NRCS website.
Environmental advocates have repeatedly called foul on the Trump administration’s handling of science and climate change, including the nomination for a top job elsewhere in the Agriculture Department. That nominee, Sam Clovis, has described climate change as “junk science” and “not proven.”