Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

'Climate Change' Removed From National Institutes of Health Website

Climate
Subtitle removed and sidebar altered on federal health website. EDGI

The effects of climate change are inextricably linked to human health. The burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that traps heat in the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to spike, air quality to worsen, all while fueling droughts, floods and storms that impact food and water security.

Climate change is making us sick in many ways, but it appears that the Trump administration is trying to downplay this fact.


The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has "altered climate change language, updated climate change references, and reduced access to a Web resource with information on climate change and human health across several webpages," according to a new report from the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI), which monitors changes to federal agency websites.

The NIEHS studies the effects of the environment on human health and is one of the 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health. EDGI told reporters this is the first time an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services has made climate-related changes to its online resources.

Changes to the NIEHS website are subtle but telling. For instance, the watchdog group noticed the Global Environmental Health pages has changed the term "climate change" to simply "climate" on side menus and page titles. These changes occurred in late July.

Granted, that's just a single word. The term "climate change" also remains in the body of the page's current text. However, for many leaders of the Republican party and among the Trump administration, climate science is treated with skepticism to outright denial. Media outlets have also reported that staffers from other federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy, have been instructed to specifically avoid the phrase.

The subtitle "Health Impacts of Climate Change" was also stricken from a page about climate change and cancer, but semantics are not the only changes on the site. According to EGDI researchers, in July "NIEHS also removed links to an educational 4-page fact sheet titled, Climate Change and Human Health, from two separate pages: a library of brochures and fact sheets, and a page dedicated to explaining the environmental impacts of climate change."

While the fact sheet is still hosted on the NIEHS website, access has been significantly reduced, the report added.

A spokesperson for the group told POLTICO PULSE that the changes appear targeted to reduce the prominence of climate issues, adding that other language on the pages was not affected. PULSE also noted that other Health and Human Service websites still host climate change information, including HHS.gov/climate that states, "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) considers climate change to be one of the top public health challenges of our time."

EDGI is an international coalition of academics and nonprofits organizations that formed after Trump's election to address potential threats to federal environmental and energy policy. The group has tracked similar website alterations at the Department of Energy's Office of Technology Transitions (report), the Department of Transportation (report) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (report).

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The outside of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Md. on Nov. 9, 2015. Al Drago / CQ Roll Call

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of two malarial drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, despite only anecdotal evidence that either is proven effective in treating or slowing the progression of the disease in seriously ill patients.

Read More Show Less
Some speculate that the dissemination of the Antarctic beeches or Nothofagus moorei (seen above in Australia) dates to the time when Antarctica, Australia and South America were connected. Auscape / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

A team of scientists drilled into the ground near the South Pole to discover forest and fossils from the Cretaceous nearly 90 million years ago, which is the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The recovery of elephant seals is one of the "signs of hope" that scientists say show the oceans can recover swiftly if we let them. NOAA / CC BY 2.0

The challenges facing the world's oceans are well known: plastic pollution could crowd out fish by 2050, and the climate crisis could wipe out coral reefs by 2100.

Read More Show Less
A schoolchildren crossing sign is seen in front of burned trees in Mallacoota, Australia on Jan. 15, 2020. Luis Ascui / Getty Images

By Bhiamie Williamson, Francis Markham and Jessica Weir

The catastrophic bushfire season is officially over, but governments, agencies and communities have failed to recognize the specific and disproportionate impact the fires have had on Aboriginal peoples.

Read More Show Less
Workers convert the Scottish Events Campus, where COP26 was to be held, into a field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP via Getty Images

The most important international climate talks since the Paris agreement was reached in 2015 have been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less