Late English author George Orwell’s head would be spinning today.
Even if you’ve never read any of Orwell’s works, you’ve likely heard of his iconic novel 1984.
Just after “President” Donald Trump took office, sales of the 1948 book skyrocketed, partly due to Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway’s doubling down on former press secretary Sean Spicer’s “largest inaugural crowd ever” lie as “alternative facts.”
We are in a new age of Orwellian doublespeak.
But it did not start with Trump. In fact, Trump’s lies are symptomatic of a much more insidious problem festering for several years: Obfuscating truth by denying it exists.
Three years ago, Florida Governor Rick Scott banned use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in state documents, speeches, and interviews, because–hey, if no one mentions them, they must not exist, right?
Kind of like if I prohibit from my household any reference to Donald Trump, he will simply vanish.
The Trump administration took a page out of Florida’s playbook.
The same day Trump signed an executive order at Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters to undo most of President Obama’s climate regulatory initiatives, a supervisor at the Energy Department’s international climate office ordered staff to refrain from using the phrases “climate change,” “emissions reduction,” or “Paris Agreement” in written memos, briefings, or other written communication.
We learned last week this trend has now spread to the Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Under guidance from the agency’s soil health director, Bianca Moebius-Clune, phrases department employees are to avoid include “climate change,” “climate change adaptation,” and “reduce greenhouse gases.” They are to be replaced respectively with “weather extremes,” “resilience to weather extremes,” and “increase nutrient use efficiency.”
In a piece for The Guardian, climatologist Bill McKibben wrote:
“At the federal level, the new policy has yet to show clear-cut success either. As the say-no-evil policy has rolled out in the early months of the Trump presidency, it coincided with the onset of a truly dramatic ‘flash drought’ across much of the nation’s wheat belt.”
If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?
If we don’t mention climate change, the flash droughts don’t exist, right?
The Farm Journal website stated earlier last week:
“Crops in the Dakotas and Montana are baking on an anvil of severe drought and extreme heat, as bone-dry conditions force growers and ranchers to make difficult decisions regarding cattle, corn and wheat. Abandoned acres, fields with zero emergence, stunted crops, anemic yields, wheat rolled into hay, and early herd culls comprise a tapestry of disaster for many producers.”
With farmers facing such a crisis, it’s a damn good thing, then, that Trump appointed Sam Clovis to be the USDA’s “chief scientist.”
And by “scientist,” we mean former right-wing radio host.
Clovis once accused former president Barack Obama’s supporters of being “Maoists,” and uses the term “climate change” in the past tense to dismiss it as “junk science.”
Under his direction, the USDA is bound to live in infamy as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists with actual science degrees predict that:
“Climate change could deplete some US water basins and dramatically reduce crop yields in some areas by 2050.”
But I think as long as we don’t talk about it, it’ll be all right.
I would love to know what Orwell would say about all this.
Check out Stephen Colbert’s take on the issue:
Check out this report from when Trump initially took office and he ordered the removal of the term “climate change” from the website:
Featured Image: Screenshot Via YouTube Video.