The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is under siege. Its academics have been told to keep schtum and not discuss their work with the press or public. Its funding has been frozen, it’s likely to be headed by an attorney general who has repeatedly tried to sue the organization, and there’s a real risk it could even be completely abolished.
At one point, it looked like it’d have to remove all mentions of climate change from its website – a truly ludicrous measure among many. However, this threat was soon rolled back, and at the time of writing, the EPA still notes that climate change today is extremely likely (i.e. certain) to be caused by human activity.
However, that hasn’t stopped others noticing that Obama-era progress on climate change mitigation is silently slipping away from their website. As reported by Climate Central, key bits of data – and certain turns of phrase – are evaporating into thin air.
References to international cooperation on the Paris agreement, assistance programs for the environmental protection of tribal land, and any federal climate programs begun or proposed under the 44th president have been removed from the EPA site. Several mentions of carbon dioxide emissions being the key driver of climate change have also been annihilated.
The changes were spotted by the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI), an international network of academics and non-profit groups looking to highlight and address threats to federal environmental programs. They also protect scientific data sets from the genuine risk of their deletion under government orders.
On the left, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is featured. A few days later, it had been completely removed from the site. EDGI
These changes are all unfortunately very much in line with the prediction that, under the current administration, the nation will withdraw from the groundbreaking climate pact and scale up its (futile) efforts to revive the failing coal and oil industries. Even measures to keep the natural world pristine and unpolluted are already being swept aside.
The Republican-controlled Congress, along with the Trump-occupied White House, seem especially keen to remove any reference to the hard work of the previous president.
This, as you can imagine, is highly unusual, as climate change is arguably the most public of scientific issues. A huge majority of the American public is both aware of it and knows that it’s man-made, along with the well-publicized fact that efforts have been made to slow it down – efforts, incidentally, that were partly led by President Obama.
Efforts to remove everything about this from the EPA site are somewhat akin to the Ministry of Truth’s rewriting of history in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Fortunately, groups like EDGI are keeping tabs on the government. It might be all about “America First” these days, but Trump would be wise to remember that it’s still attached to a boiling planet.