Thursday, October 26, 2017

Political Correctness Republican Style: Ban On Term "Climate Change"

Here's a hypothesis I'm proposing:

When Democrats ask people not to use certain terms and phrases, it tends to be words that are demeaning or hurtful to categories of people.

When Republicans ask people not to use certain terms and phrases, it tends to be words that reflect truths they want to deny.

Is it true or not?  I'm guessing it might be, but I'm starting with way too little real evidence.  But here's just one example:  Expunging 'climate change' in government agencies.

From the Guardian:
"Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term climate change in their work, with the officials instructed to reference “weather extremes” instead."
From Politico:

"A supervisor at the Energy Department's international climate office told staff this week not to use the phrases "climate change," "emissions reduction" or "Paris Agreement" in written memos, briefings or other written communication, sources have told POLITICO. 
Employees of DOE’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy learned of the ban at a meeting Tuesday, the same day President Donald Trump signed an executive order at EPA headquarters to reverse most of former President Barack Obama's climate regulatory initiatives. Officials at the State Department and in other DOE offices said they had not been given a banned words list, but they had started avoiding climate-related terms in their memos and briefings given the new administration's direction on climate change. . . 
A DOE spokeswoman denied there had been a new directive. "No words or phrases have been banned for this office or anyone in the department,” said DOE spokeswoman Lindsey Geisler."
Florida Center For Investigative Reporting:

"The state of Florida is the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming in this country, according to scientists. Sea-level rise alone threatens 30 percent of the state’s beaches over the next 85 years. 
But you would not know that by talking to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state agency on the front lines of studying and planning for these changes. 
DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. 
The policy goes beyond semantics and has affected reports, educational efforts and public policy in a department that has about 3,200 employees and $1.4 billion budget."

Fortunately, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) is a Congressional, not Executive, agency, so it, apparently can still write about climate change.  Their report, dated Sept. 28, 2017 doesn't mince words:
"Why GAO Did This Study
Over the last decade, extreme weather and fire events have cost the federal government over $350 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget. These costs will likely rise as the climate changes, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program. In February 2013, GAO included Limiting the Federal Government's Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks on its High-Risk List.
GAO was asked to review the potential economic effects of climate change and risks to the federal government. This report examines (1) methods used to estimate the potential economic effects of climate change in the United States, (2) what is known about these effects, and (3) the extent to which information about these effects could inform efforts to manage climate risks across the federal government. GAO reviewed 2 national-scale studies available and 28 other studies; interviewed 26 experts knowledgeable about the strengths and limitations of the studies; compared federal efforts to manage climate risks with leading practices for risk management and economic analysis; and obtained expert views.
What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends that the appropriate entities within the Executive Office of the President (EOP), including the Office of Science and Technology Policy, use information on potential economic effects to help identify significant climate risks and craft appropriate federal responses. EOP entities and the Environmental Protection Agency did not provide official comments on the report."
Actually, they do mince words.  The opening of this overview talks about the research in a way that gives deniers lots of cover:
"The methods and the studies that use them produce imprecise results because of modeling and other limitations but can convey insight into potential climate damages across sectors in the United States."
Maybe that's there for those folks who only read the first paragraph of so.  The rest is pretty alarming, though from what I can tell, they are very conservative in their estimates of the costs of not dealing with climate change - both through lowering carbon emissions and mitigation efforts to deal with the impacts of climate change.

You can see their overviews here and the whole forty page report here.

But I need to keep collecting more examples of what Republicans complain about as 'political correctness' and the words and phrases (and in the case of 'taking a knee' actions)  they don't want others to use.  Will my hypothesis hold up.

I'd note that I've discussed political correctness before and basically it refers to someone or organization using their power to keep people from using certain words or espousing certain ideas.

Most recently I wrote about what I dubbed 'Republican political correctness' and Colin Kaepernick.  Rather than repeat what I said then, I'll just let you go to the link.  That post has links to earlier posts on the topic.

I would note that this climate change example is basically a form of censorship in an attempt to stifle discussion of what I think is the greatest threat to humanity.  And it's similar to the NRA's successful campaign to prevent the Center For Disease Control from doing research on gun violence.  Without data, scientists can't 'prove' anything.  Now that is real political correctness.  "You can't study what we don't want you to study."


  1. I know you do not like links but this book just came out Extreme Cities: The Perils and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change.

  2. Oliver, I love links. My posts are full of them. My comment note is just a gentle nudge to learn how to actually put the link into the comments. It's not that hard, maybe like learning how to do a combination lock for the very first time. Here's a link the Extreme Cities. And to another recent climate change book, The Water Will Come.


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