December 21, 2017
Speaking to NPR, Texas Tech Climate Center director Katherine Hayhoe said, "In the scientific community, we're very cautious people. "We tend to be quite averse to notoriety and conflict, so I absolutely have seen self-censorship among my colleagues. [They'll say] 'Well, maybe I shouldn't say it that way, because whatever funding organization or politician or agency won't appreciate it.'" The result, as tracked by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and reported by NPR, is a 40 percent decrease in grants related to climate change funded by the NSF.
Harvard Forest senior ecologist Jonathan Thompson explained this change to NPR, saying, "Scientists I know are increasingly using terms like 'global change', 'environmental change', and 'extreme weather', rather than explicitly saying 'climate change'. This seems to be born out of an abundance of caution to limit their exposure to any political landmines in what is already an extremely competitive process."
So is this what's happening over at HHS? So it would seem. The unnamed HHS official that spoke to STAT explained that agency budget analysts — the people who received the fateful briefing at which the list of banned words was originally released — were told that some words were more likely to gain Congressional support for CDC's budget than others. "There was guidance provided — suggestions, if you will," the official told STAT. "There are different ways to say things without necessarily compromising or changing the true essence of what's being said."