References to “Climate Change” Removed from NPS Report
Date: September 10th, 2018
Agency: DOI, Federal
Explanation: Government Censorship, Self-Censorship
On September 10, 2018, it was reported that references to “climate change” had been removed from a draft planning document for the New Bedford Whaling Historical Park. The Regional Director for the Northeast Region of the National Park Service (NPS) — Gay Vietzke — reportedly requested that the draft be reviewed “for sensitive language that may raise eyebrows, especially with the current administration.” Following the review, officials in the NPS Northeast Regional Office suggested that references to “climate change” be removed, stating:
“[W]e’re being told that we can talk about climate change in terms of facts – if we have data to back our claim, that is ok. We should, however, avoid any speculative language – like what “may” happen in the future.”
The officials indicated that their suggested changes were “not mandatory.” Nevertheless, employees at the New Bedford Whaling Historical Park amended the draft, removing all references to “climate change.” In several places, the phrase “climate change” was replaced with “changing environmental conditions,” or “weather extremes.” For example, a section discussing “research needs” has been changed to recommend an “assessment of park resilience to weather extremes” instead of a “climate change vulnerability assessment,” which had been recommended in the original draft.
NPS has not issued an official statement in relation to the changes. However, an NPS spokesperson told reporters that parks are expected to “address issues like change change . . . using the best available scientific information,” and that “[s]ound management requires that we rely on specific, measurable data when making management and planning decisions.”