Trump Administration Caught Adding Debunked Climate Denial Language to Reports

Department of the Interior headquarters at 18th and C Streets, NW in Washington, D.C.  (flickr / NCinDC)

The Trump administration repeatedly inserted climate denial language into scientific reports, according to a New York Times report on Monday.

The Times found at least nine reports that contained language — authored by an Interior Department official named Indur M. Goklany —  that falsely suggested there is significant uncertainty about whether climate change is real and that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere might be a good thing.

Goklany is also listed as a policy expert for the Heartland Institute, one of the nation's leading climate denial disinformation think tanks.

 
 

The phrasing inserted into reports, referred to as "Goks uncertainty language" within the department, says that more carbon dioxide "may increase plant water use efficiency" and "lengthen the agricultural growing season."

A 2017 study led by a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research — like many studies before it — found that climate change would hurt crops, not help them.

The Times said the language was inserted into reports including "environmental studies and impact statements on major watersheds in the American West that could be used to justify allocating increasingly scarce water to farmers at the expense of wildlife conservation and fisheries."

An Interior Department spokesperson defended the language, telling the paper, "Uncertainty is a part of climate modeling, as it is with all scientific modeling."

From its earliest days, Trump administration has worked to roll back Obama administration policies aimed at addressing climate change. This included getting rid of regulations on fossil fuels, decreasing enforcement of environmental laws, and appointing climate change deniers throughout the government.

Trump once claimed that climate change was a "hoax" pushed by China and disputed a dire 2018 climate assessment by his own administration.

More recently he has acknowledged that it is a "very serious subject," but has done little to solve it.

Indeed, Trump's only mention of environmentalism in his recent State of the Union address was a call for governments and the private sector to plant trees.

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