Trump Administration Buries Government-Funded Studies Showing Dangers of Climate Change
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks during a forum April 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images
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.