Thursday, August 17, 2017
Oliver Milman in New York
The Guardian, Monday 7 August 2017
Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term climate change in their work, with the officials instructed to reference “weather extremes” instead.
A series of emails obtained by the Guardian between staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation, show that the incoming Trump administration has had a stark impact on the language used by some federal employees around climate change.
A missive from Bianca Moebius-Clune, director of soil health, lists terms that should be avoided by staff and those that should replace them. “Climate change” is in the “avoid” category, to be replaced by “weather extremes”. Instead of “climate change adaption”, staff are asked to use “resilience to weather extremes”.
The primary cause of human-driven climate change is also targeted, with the term “reduce greenhouse gases” blacklisted in favor of “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency”. Meanwhile, “sequester carbon” is ruled out and replaced by “build soil organic matter”. In her email to staff, dated 16 February this year, Moebius-Clune said the new language was given to her staff and suggests it be passed on.
In a separate email to senior employees on 24 January, just days after Trump’s inauguration, Jimmy Bramblett, deputy chief for programs at the NRCS, said: “It has become clear one of the previous administration’s priority 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.”
Some staff weren’t enamored with the new regime, with one employee stating on an email on 5 July that “we would prefer to keep the language as is” and stressing the need to maintain the “scientific integrity of the work”.
Trump has repeatedly questioned the veracity of climate change research, infamously suggesting that it is part of an elaborate Chinese hoax. The president has started the process of withdrawing the US from the Paris climate agreement, has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to scrap or amend various regulations aimed at cutting greenhouse gases, and has moved to open up more public land and waters to fossil fuel activity.
The nomenclature of the federal government has also shifted as these new priorities have taken hold. Mentions of the dangers of climate change have been removed from the websites of the White House and the Department of the Interior, while the EPA scrapped its entire online climate section in April pending a review that will be “updating language to reflect the approach of new leadership”.
The series of emails. Some parts were redacted before the emails were released. The Guardian has further redacted phone numbers, and highlighted key passages.
“These records reveal Trump’s active censorship of science in the name of his political agenda,” said Meg Townsend, open government attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Sunday, July 30, 2017
Following a proposition in Poland to ban abortion, pro-choice women such as this one began protesting on October 3rd, 2016, many not going to work and taking to the streets.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Black Mirror is a British science fiction television anthology series created by Charlie Brooker and centred around dark and satirical themes that examine modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies. Episodes are standalone works, usually set in an alternative present or the near future.
Stories tap into the collective unease about our modern world. Over the last then years, technology has transformed almost every aspect of our lives before we've had time to stop and question it. In every home; on every desk; in every palm -a plasma screen, a monitor, a smartphone- a black mirror of our 21st Century existence. A must-watch series.