Monday, December 11, 2017

Scientists censor term ‘climate change’ to save public funding

Scientists are increasingly omitting the term “climate change” in public grant proposals to avoid funding cuts from the Trump administration, according to a recent NPR analysis — a trend some Boston University researchers said they have noticed.

An analysis of National Science Foundation grants awarded in 2017 revealed a 40 percent decrease in the use of the term “climate change” and an increase in replacement phrases like “extreme weather” and “environmental change,” according to the NPR report.

The recent trend of using euphemisms for the term “climate change” can in part be attributed to the skeptical approach the Trump administration has taken toward environmental science issues and research, some researchers said. The NPR article notes that climate change was the only research area singled out by name for reduction in Trump’s budget proposal.

Michael Dietze, a professor in BU’s earth and environment department, explained that although research spending has been restricted for scientists for over a decade, this administration has been the first to target work on climate change by cutting funding for specific programs.

“It wasn’t a minor cut — whole programs were zeroed out in the budget across multiple agencies,” Dietze wrote in an email. “In some instances Trump’s proposed budget increased spending in other areas so that the total budget of a specific agency does not change.”

Dietze also explained that he has not yet seen direct political interference in how agencies distribute grant funding, but fear of political bias has caused scientists to resort to euphemisms instead of being outright about their efforts to study climate change. Because of that fear, he wrote, the trend of omitting the term “climate change” in public grant summaries is likely to increase.

“There’s every sign that it will get worse,” Dietze wrote. “Many of the grants awarded in 2017 are based on proposals written in 2016 before the election — what we’re seeing now may be the tip of the iceberg.”

Mark Friedl, professor and interim chair of the earth and environment department, said he has discussed the omission of the term “climate change” in public research with his colleagues, but he feels the greater issue is “decreased funding and support for science and research in general.”

“There has been discussion about this among the [earth and environment] faculty,” Freidl said. “The current administration and Congress [don’t] seem to place any value whatsoever on this notion of science as an important element of society.”

Friedl said the best thing research institutions like BU can do in response to this trend is to “just keep doing our science and keep providing that clear, empirical, sensible evidence of what we see is happening on the planet.”

“The choice of a single word isn’t really what dictates the merit of a proposed science project,” he said. “The best thing we can do is to keep working on doing good science and objective science and defensible science, and in the end, truth will prevail.”



Paul Weber said...

"Climate change" used to synonymous with "free money" under previous administrations.

Bird of Paradise said...

Global Warming,Climate Change,Manbearpig Climate Change its all leading to World Goverment all under the Useless Nations

Stan B said...

When I was attending college courses in 2012, the History Professor said "The fastest way to get your study funded these days is to add the words 'and Climate Change' to the title." If you combine THAT statement with the current trend of "omitting" climate change references, you see the TRUE influence of funding on studies.

Anonymous said...

Sounds a little like fraud.

Spurwing Plover the Fighting Shorebird said...

Like with DDT liberals will want CO2 banned becuase their total idea that its a pollutant not a plant food becuase Enviromentalists are total idiots