Wisconsin censors accepted climate science on DNR website

Recently the State of Wisconsin scrubbed climate change-related information on a Department of Natural Resources website. The changes delete accepted climate science, and remove reference to human-caused climate change and effects in the Great Lakes.

The revised Wisconsin DNR website scrubs reference to “human activities” as a cause of climate change. It also removes reference to climate change causes and effects. The revised page specifically removes the words “climate change” and “climate” from the DNR website. They also removed several climate related links.

Here's the screenshot of the Wisconsin DNR site before December 21st.

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Wisconsin DNR October, 2016 revision.

Here's the same web page after the revision on December 21, 2016.

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Wisconsin DNR, December 21, 2016 revision.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel elaborates on the changes.

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The state Department of Natural Resources recently scrubbed language from an agency web page on the Great Lakes that said humans and greenhouse gases are the main cause of climate change.

The DNR now says the subject is a matter of scientific debate.

The department made the changes on Dec. 21, striking out whole sentences attributing global warming to human activities and rising levels of carbon dioxide.

It’s the most recent example of the DNR removing information related to climate change. More broadly, the changes reflect how the administration of Republican Gov. Scott Walker has de-emphasized the subject since he took office in 2011.

In the latest changes, the DNR says of climate change, “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 Department of Natural Resources.”

Officials replaced this wording:

“Earth’s climate is changing. Human activities that increase heat-trapping ('greenhouse') gases are the main cause.”

The old text goes on to say “scientists agree” that the Great Lakes region will see longer summers and shorter winters, decreased ice cover and changes in rain and snow patterns “if climate change patterns continue.”

Not a matter of scientific debate.

The Wisconsin DNR's website assertion that the reasons for climate change in Wisconsin are "being debated" is ludicrous. That statement is provably false with scientific certainty. The National Climate Assessment and numerous other sources document human-caused climate change in Wisconsin, the Midwest, and the USA.

In fact, Wisconsin is among the fastest warming states in the USA, according this Climate Central report.

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Climate Central

Government censorship of climate science?

The intentional removal by the Wisconsin DNR of thoroughly researched, tested and accepted climate science is disturbing. To this meteorologist it looks a lot like a digital form of scientific book burning. Not trying to be dramatic here, but this Wikipedia definition sounds about right.

Book burning refers to the ritual destruction by fire of books or other written materials. Usually carried out in a public context, the burning of books represents an element of censorship and usually proceeds from a cultural, religious, or political opposition to the materials in question.

Some are suggesting that what the State of Wisconsin is doing here is censorship. I'm sure the lawyers can parse the definition, but again practically speaking that sounds about right to me.

-Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional. - ACLU

Wisconsin Public Radio further explores the changes in this radio piece.

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Why Was Climate Change Language Stripped From DNR Web Page?

Edits Are Not First Politicized Changes On State Websites From Walker Administration, Writer Says

References to climate change, rising temperatures and the human activities that cause them have been removed recently from a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources web page.

The revisions were caught by James Rowen, a former reporter and editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who now blogs about state politics. He said this isn't the first time Gov. Scott Walker and his administration deliberately carried out politicized changes to state-sponsored websites, and that it's a reflection of the "chamber of commerce mentality" coming from the state Capitol.

"I noticed that even though it's a website about the impact of climate change on Wisconsin and the Great Lakes, most of the references to climate change, as well as the specific words 'climate' and 'climate change,' were no longer on the page," Rowen said.

As recently as October, the heading of the web page read "Climate Change and Wisconsin's Great Lakes" in big, bold letters, and then went on to explain human activities are increasing greenhouse gases and contributing to the warming of the planet.

I have little doubt the intent of removing accepted climate science from Wisconsin DNR websites is to censor credible science that some see as problematic to their political beliefs.

Stay tuned.

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