One of America’s top climate change scientists has walked off the job after he says the Trump administration tried to bury his study finding that rice is losing nutrients due to rising carbon dioxide levels, according to Politico.
“You get the sense that things have changed, that this is not a place for you to be exploring things that don't agree with someone's political views,” Lewis Ziska, 62, told Politico in an interview. “That's so sad. I can't even begin to tell you how sad that is.”
The plant physiologist worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service for more than twenty years, but when department officials questioned his study’s findings and attempted to curb media coverage of the research, Ziska became alarmed.
The results of his research “raised serious concerns for the 600 million people who depend on rice for most of their calories.”
Upon Ziska’s resignation, the USDA said in a statement that the decision not to send out a press release on the paper was based on disagreement among career officials and had nothing to do with politics.
The Trump administration has faced multiple accusations of attempting to censor climate science, resulting in several other resignations from career government officials.
Ziska said the Agriculture Department is “in constant fear of the president and Secretary Sonny Perdue’s open skepticism about broadly accepted climate science,” with some officials going to extremes to protect their work from political fallout.
The result, he told Politico, is a “vastly diminished ability for taxpayer-funded scientists to provide farmers and policymakers with important information about complex threats to the global food supply.”