USDA tells staff to stop using the term ‘climate change’

The USDA's censorship is the latest example of Trump brushing climate change under the rug.

Aug 7, 2017, 1:10 pm*


Andrew Couts 

Andrew Couts

USDA Headquarters

Photo via Mark Van Scyoc/ (Licensed)

The United States Department of Agriculture has told employees to avoid using the phrase “climate change” in favor of the less politically charged “weather extremes,” according to USDA emails obtained by the Guardian.

USDA’s censorship of “climate change” marks the latest example of pressure from the Trump administration’s to reduce discussions of climate change within the federal government.

The language changes within the USDA came in a February email from Bianca Moebius-Clune, an official from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. In addition to ditching “climate change” in favor of “weather extremes,” Moebius-Clune notes that a number of other related terms and phrases would now be on the “avoid” list.

“Climate change adaptation” has been replaced with “resilience to weather extremes.” The phrase “reduce greenhouse gases” was banned in favor of “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency.” And “sequester carbon”—the process of capturing carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change—would also be referred to as “build soil organic matter.”

Moebius-Clune notes in her email that the USDA is not changing “the modeling, just how we talk about it.” Further, the changes appear to be a preemptive measure that anticipated the Trump administration’s position on climate change.

The USDA has not, however, scrubbed all mentions of “climate change” from its web presence. 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. Other agencies have gone further in their censorship.

The administration began to scrub the federal government of “climate change” language soon after President Donald Trump‘s inauguration in January. The White House, Department of the Interior, and Environmental Protection Agency have removed information about climate change from their websites. And Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax,” pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, putting American policy at odds with most of the world.

Read the full USDA emails below:


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*First Published: Aug 7, 2017, 1:09 pm