CENSORED! Trump Administration removes "climate" from science statement

The US Geological Service issued a press release last week on an article/study about the threats sea-level rise create for US coasts, In Next Decades, Frequency of Coastal Flooding Will Double Globally.

Global climate change drives sea-level rise, increasing the frequency of coastal flooding

Those words did not appear in the above-linked USGS press release — though they were in the press release’s draft.

“It’s a crime against the American people,” Neil Frazer, a geophysics professor and one of the study’s co-authors, said of the line’s removal and of other efforts to limit scientific communication from federal agencies. “Because scientists have known for at least 50 years that anthropogenic climate change is a reality.” He added: “The suppression of this information is a scandal.”

There are numerous stories of interest and concern here:

As to the last, I tweeted this last Thursday about the press release:

My tweet was after seeing this:

I then shared the material with a range of climate scientists and communicators including people specifically focused on sea-level rise (SLR).

From rather well-known, extremely knowledgeable, PhD expert, strong (even strident) climate hawk, the note:

The release is not shy about talking about sea level rise and SLR projections. It’s certainly possible that USGS edited out a mention of climate change, but  it equally possible that it was just a incidental omission.

After all, the actual study directly comments on climate change in its first paragraph:

From a Director of a significant scientific institution, the note included (removing some potentially identifying information):

I don’t believe that there is any Trump influence on their writing and believe that they are all first rate scientists who are probably more focused on the immediate science of future sea-level rise rather than diving into climate change issues.

Neither of these people are anything close to Team Trump devotees.

Both are serious experts — in science and even in sea-level rise.

Both are well-aware of Bush Administration science censorship.

Both have expressed concerns about Trump’s lack of science knowledge and Team Trump’s anti-science passions/science denial.

Both … both were reticent, in private communication, to even suggest that they thought this was a situation of censorship.

They knew the ‘first rate scientist’ authors and did not want, I suppose, to see the insidious hand of climate-denial censorship impacting those ‘first-rate scientists’.

Here is a situation where

  • those “first rate scientist” authors were (see that Post story) willing (anxious even) to talk publicly about the censorship. (Note that their jobs are likely not on the line and, within their professional environments, they might actually ‘gain’ due to speaking out publicly rather than ‘losing their jobs’.)
  • the censorship was obvious simply through reading the piece — simply reading the press release made one wonder why ‘climate change’ wasn’t there in a sentence or two for context about SLR.
  • the censorship did not impact the actual substance — how SLR is accelerating and will lead to more coastal flooding.

Not hard to imagine situations where:

  • People fear that they might lose their jobs and are reticent about speaking out;
  • The censorship is more insidious and hidden, harder to discern; and,
  • The censorship impacts the actual substance and conclusions, turning science into pseudo-science or actual science denial.

As to my interlocutors, on sharing The Washington Post confirmation of the censorship, one hasn’t responded and the other got back to me with a simply:

You were right!

I wish that I had been wrong.

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