Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

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

Note to readers: The Morning Jolt has become an AJC feature offered only to subscribers in its full form. You can bookmark the Political Insider by clicking here.

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.”

To read more, click here.


Following climate change report, Ga. officials warn of local impact

Mayor Reed, Agnes Scott sign onto pledge to uphold Paris climate agreement

What is the Paris climate agreement? 9 things you should know

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.