The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Trump Administration Buries Government-Funded Studies Showing Dangers of Climate Change
The Trump administration ratcheted up its open hostility to climate science in a move that may hide essential information from the nation's farmers.
The administration put the kibosh on publicizing work done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) own scientists that carried warnings about the long-term repercussions of the climate crisis, according to a report by Politico.
None of the studies were political in nature. In fact, they all went through peer-review and were cleared by the non-partisan Agriculture Research Service, a leading source of scientific findings for farmers and consumers. Furthermore, none of the studies looked at the causes of the climate crisis. Instead, they examined the effects of increases in carbon dioxide, rising temperatures and volatile weather, according to Politico.
Some of the studies are groundbreaking and essential information for human-health around the world, such as findings that rice loses vitamins in carbon-rich environments — a potentially dire cause of malnutrition for the 600 million people around the globe who consume rice as their main food source. The studies also found that climate change could reduce the nutritional quality of several grasses important to raising cattle, which could affect future beef and dairy supplies. Another study found that climate change could worsen and extend seasonal allergies, as Politico reported.
Politico found that the USDA not only refused to publicize the studies, but kept them off its own website.
Of course, the studies landed in the USDA, which is run by Sonny Perdue, who is openly hostile to climate science and denies the climate crisis.
"Climate change, we're told, is responsible for heavy rains and drought alike. Whether temperatures are unseasonably low or high, global warming is the culprit. Snowstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes have been around since the beginning of time, but now they want us to accept that all of it is the result of climate change," he wrote in the National Review in 2014. "It's become a running joke among the public, and liberals have lost all credibility when it comes to climate science because their arguments have become so ridiculous and so obviously disconnected from reality."
In the rice study, the USDA not only squashed their own press release, but also sought to prevent the agency's research partners from publicizing the findings, according to Politico.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Washington who collaborated with scientists in the USDA as well as in Japan, China and Australia. Their findings that, as carbon levels increase, rice will lose protein, minerals and essential vitamins, passed through intensive peer-review.
Yet, the USDA urged the University of Washington not to publicize the study. The USDA was "adamant that there was not enough data to be able to say what the paper is saying, and that others may question the science," a UW communications director wrote in an email, as Politico reported.
Researchers argue that the Agriculture Department's maneuvers not only damage its own credibility but also show a nefarious intrusion of politics into science.
"Why the hell is the U.S., which is ostensibly the leader in science research, ignoring this?" said one USDA scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid the possibility of retaliation, as Politico reported. "It's not like we're working on something that's esoteric … we're working on something that has dire consequences for the entire planet."
"You can only postpone reality for so long," the researcher added.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
In April, he claimed they caused cancer, and he sued to stop an offshore wind farm that was scheduled to go up near land he had purchased for a golf course in Aberdeenshire in Scotland. He lost that fight, and now the Trump Organization has agreed to pay the Scottish government $290,000 to cover its legal fees, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
By Paul Brown
When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.
By Lakshmi Magon
This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.
By Tara Lohan
If I were to open my refrigerator, the origins of most of the food wouldn't be too much of a mystery — the milk, cheese and produce all come from relatively nearby farms. I can tell from the labels on other packaged goods if they're fair trade, non-GMO or organic.
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope
Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.