Climate change is a rapidly growing problem in the United States for many reasons. To name one: as the sea level rises, many coastal areas of the country are in danger of severe flooding, which could damage our infrastructure and make large swaths of land uninhabitable. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, but it would appear the federal government is trying to keep us from addressing it. The Center for Investigative Reporting has found that the executive branch under Donald Trump—and perhaps Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in particular—are working to remove mentions of the human role in climate change from government science reports.
The news source revealed that a key February report from the National Park Service—one that was intended to inform the public about how to protect parks against climate change—was doctored by the Interior Department to remove certain details about climate change. Specifically, the word “anthropogenic,” meaning attributable to people’s impact on nature, was removed in five places.
University of Michigan climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck was reportedly among those shocked by this revelation.
“To remove a very critical part of the scientific understanding is nothing short of political censorship and has no place in science,” he said. “Censorship of this kind is something you’d see in Russia or some totalitarian regime. It has no place in America.”
Meanwhile, Interior Department officials insist that nothing fishy is happening. Zinke testified at a recent Senate committee hearing that his office hasn’t changed any documents.
“There is no incident, no incident at all that I know that we ever changed a comma on a document itself. Now we may have on a press release,” Zinke told the senators. “And I challenge you, any member, to find a document that we’ve actually changed on a report.”
This dispute is a significant one. As the Center for Investigative Reporting emphasized, it’s crucial for Americans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the decades ahead. The National Park Service report included calculations for projected sea level rises between now and 2030, 2050, and 2100. People everywhere must be made aware that their actions can have an impact on these changes.
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