Bob Earll: For my generation George Orwell’s books ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’ were key reading and masterpieces of how words and communication were controlled for the good of the state. Although this is nothing new and Ian Hislop’s Orwell lecture highlighted that in the time when they were written Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini were in control and world war raged. The news coming from the US on climate change and science highlights very Orwellian themes. One Federal Agency is telling its staff what words to use instead of climate change. Of course it couldn’t happen here ….
Leaked report reveals evidence of climate change impact ‘abounds’ in the US
Business Green Madeleine Cuff ‘New York Times reveals government report lays bare impact of climate change across US, but scientists fear Trump administration may suppress it
A major federal report into the impacts of climate change has uncovered swathes of evidence the US is already suffering the impacts of global warming with more intense droughts, heatwaves, and storms pummelling the country.
The draft report, written by scientists from 13 federal agencies, has been awaiting approval for its release by the Trump administration for several weeks.
It was leaked to The New York Times and published today as fears mount that the White House may try and suppress its findings, which directly contradict statements made by President Trump and many of his close colleagues.
“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” the report states.
The draft paper reveals the average temperature across the US has risen sharply since the 1980s, and lays the blame at the door of human activities, especially greenhouse gas emissions, which it says are “primarily responsible” for recent observed climate change.
The findings present a challenge to the Trump administration, which has repeatedly insisted the science over man’s role in the changing climate is not settled, using that as a justification for holding back on aggressive climate policies.
In an interview last November with the New York Times Trump said there was “some connectivity” between human actions and climate change, but said he was unsure “if anybody is ever going to really know” for sure.
Orwell comes to town
The release of the research also coincided with the publication of leaked emails from Trump administration officials warning staffers to avoid using the term “climate change” in their work, instead using the phrase “weather extremes”.
Emails obtained by the Guardian suggest staff at the US Department of Agriculture have also been warned to stop using the term “climate change adaption”, instead adopting “resilience to weather extremes”.
It follows the removal of climate change pages from the White House website and the scrapping of a series of key green policy initiatives introduced by the previous administration, including the high profile decision by President Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
Like the delay in publishing the draft report, the emergence of the emails has stoked fears the Trump administration is attempting to censor the climate change debate in favour of promoting the exploitation of America’s fossil fuel reserves.
“To think that federal agency staff who report about the air, water and soil that sustains the health of our nation must conform their reporting with the Trump administration’s anti-science rhetoric is appalling and dangerous for America and the greater global community,” Meg Townsend, open government attorney at the Centre for Biological Diversity, told the Guardian.