Science is being censored yet again by the federal government. Every mention of human beings’ role in climate change has been deleted from a National Park Service report. Also deleted was the word “anthropogenic,” relating to humans’ impact on nature. Now Democrats in Congress have called for the Department of Interior to investigate the deletions.
The still unreleased report, first drafted in 2016 by a climate scientist from the University of Boulder, discusses sea level rise and storm surge – both of which are directly tied to climate change. The report’s purpose is to relate to the officials and the public how national parks will be affected, and what they can do to help. But when The Center for Investigative Reporting reviewed the original and subsequent drafts, they discovered that any language tying human activity to climate change was removed.
Ninety-two percent of coastal national park land will be affected by the rising seas and increasing storms of our changing climate. The report is an essential tool for park employees, scientists, officials, and the public as these rapid changes occur. Holding the report back for two years and eradicating a critical component of the science — humans’ role in climate change and environmental damage — is a disturbing move by the government.
“Censorship of this kind is something you’d see in Russia or some totalitarian regime.”
Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist and dean of the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, said the revelation was “shocking” and commented, “To remove a very critical part of the scientific understanding is nothing short of political censorship and has no place in science. Censorship of this kind is something you’d see in Russia or some totalitarian regime.” The Interior Department has a scientific integrity policy, committing to leaving politics out of their policies and reports. Failing to do so could undermine the integrity of scientific reports produced by the government for years to come.
Head of the Interior Department Ryan Zinke testified to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month, attesting that scientific reports were not being edited. But with the Revel News publication, members of Congress are asking questions. Why has the report been held back? Just who is behind the deletions? Were the deletions due to a specific agenda or an example of the attitudes of our current administration?
Although 97% of scientists and almost two-thirds of Americans agree that humans’ use of fossil fuels is affecting our climate, the Trump Administration has gone to ridiculous lengths to deny that fact. The words “climate change” were removed from the government’s climate change resource website. There was uproar from the public and scientists when seven words were banned from being used in the CDC’s budget process.