In Sonny Perdue’s USDA, say ‘weather extremes’ — not ‘climate change’

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In this June file photo, a local temperature sign reads 120-degrees as temperatures climb to near-record highs in Phoenix. AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

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Employees of Sonny Perdue and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been instructed to find alternatives to the term “climate change” as they deal with a field peculiarly dependent on the weather.

The Guardian newspaper has obtained a series of emails passed among the staff of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a branch of the USDA that oversees  land conservation  — in which the workers were given instructions on how the new Trump administration wanted to talk about global warming:

— Instead of “climate change,” use “weather extremes.”

— Instead of “climate change adaption,” use resilience to weather extremes, resilience to intense weather events, drought, heavy rain, spring ponding.

— Instead of “reducing greenhouse gases,” use “build soil organic matter and increase nutrient use efficiency.”

The newspaper noted that Sam Clovis, President Donald Trump’s nomination to be the Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist, is a non-scientist who has labeled climate research “junk science.”

Updated at 4 p.m.: Communication specialists with the USDA are pushing back on this report, contacting us and other news outlets that have cited The Guardian article with this statement:

“The Natural Resources Conservation Service has not received direction from USDA or the Administration to modify its communications on climate change or any other topic.  The agency continuously evaluates its messaging to America’s farmers, ranchers, and foresters as they work to implement voluntary conservation on their operations to improve the health of our soil, air, water, and habitat.”

“These emails, sent in the first days of the new Administration to a small number of agency staff, did not reflect the direction of senior agency leadership.”

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