Climate Scepticism Could Take Over Govt Websites Under Trump
A reworking of language on climate change on a Wisconsin govt site could foretell things to come
James Rowen, a longtime Wisconsin journalist and environmental blogger, recently discovered a stark remaking of a state Department of Natural Resources web page on climate change and the Great Lakes.
Until December, the page, dating from the Democratic administration of former Gov. James Doyle, had this headline — “Climate Change and Wisconsin’s Great Lakes” — and a clear description of the state of the science, including this line reflecting the latest federal and international research assessments: “Earth’s climate is changing. Human activities that increase heat-trapping (“green house”) gases are the main cause.”
The page described a variety of possible impacts on the lakes and concluded, “The good news is that we can all work to slow climate change and lessen its effects.” Nine hyperlinks led readers to other resources.
While the web address still includes /greatlakes/climatechange, the page, managed under agency appointees of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, now has this headline: “The Great Lakes and a changing world.” It now says this:
As it has done throughout the centuries, the earth is going through a change. The reasons for this change at this particular time in the earth’s long history are being debated and researched by academic entities outside the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The effects of such a change are also being debated but whatever the causes and effects, the DNR’s responsibility is to manage our state’s natural resources through whatever event presents itself.
There are now just two hyperlinks, one of which goes to a University of Wisconsin website about the environment and climate in the Yahara River watershed, which is not even connected to the Great Lakes. The other goes to the main page of the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin. One has to poke around a while to get back to the issue at hand — the impact of global warming on the Great Lakes.
James Dick, a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, sent a response explaining the changes on the web page, asserting that the page “does not say the cause and effects of the change in climate are debatable.”
“It says they are being debated. There’s a difference,” Dick said. “Many scientists may be in agreement but this topic is still the subject of much debate and discussion among the general public.”