Aug. 28, 2017 (Nature) -- Multiple researchers who received grants from the U.S. Department of Energy have been asked to remove references to “climate change” and “global warming” from the descriptions of their projects.
In one case, a lab official at the DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington, asked an ecologist to elide references to climate change from her grant proposal in order to satisfy U.S. President Donald Trump's “budget language restrictions.” The scientist, Jennifer Bowen of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, posted an e-mail from the lab official to Facebook on 24 Aug.
“I have been asked to contact you to update the wording in your proposal abstract to remove words such as 'global warming' or 'climate change,'” the official, Ashley Gilbert, a project coordinator at PNNL's Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory. Bowen's project will examine how environmental stressors, such as climate change, affect the ecology of saltwater marshes.
Gilbert's office told Nature that she was unavailable for comment, and a PNNL spokesperson referred questions to DOE headquarters in Washington DC. Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes declined to answer questions about the situation but said: “there is no departmental-wide policy banning the term 'climate change' from being used in DOE materials.
Bowen could not be reached for comment on the matter. But Jonathan Sanderman, a biogeochemist at the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and co-principal investigator on the marsh project, confirmed that the e-mail came from Gilbert. Sanderman speculates that PNNL officials “are worried the grant will get zeroed out if someone sees that it lists climate change."