The State Department’s disappearing Climate Change web page


The U.S. State Department’s “USINFO” web site, maintained by the department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, provides current information on a variety of topics, each with its own home page, including a “Climate Change” page—until the page was “retired” last week, without explanation. We note that the next-to-last posting before the Climate Change information category disappeared was the item “Global Warming Topped Natural Cycles in Fueling 2005 Hurricanes.” 

The Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs (formerly the U.S. Information Agency) “USINFO” web site provides information on a variety of topics, including “Global Issues.”  Under the Global Issues heading, the department in the past has posted information under various “Issues in Focus” subcategories including:
** Bird Flu
** Climate Change
** Energy Policy
** Environment
** Health
** Human Trafficking
** Humanitarian Assistance and Refugees
** Hurricane Recovery
** Response to Tsunami
** Science & Technology

Each category has a link to its own home page that highlights recent news and provides access to the archive of stories in that category.  Under the “Climate Change” category, the State Department posted numerous informative news items during the past several years, including items about important research developments supported by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. (Stories posted in the “Climate Change” category on USINFO during the past 6 months are listed at the end of this post). 

But as of July 5, the Climate Change category has disappeared from the set of “Issues in Focus”—thus, this topic is no longer called to the attention of visitors to the Global Issues page.  The Climate Change home page, still in existence but now buried, says, without explanation,

“The `Climate Change’ collection has been retired.”

The last two postings in the “Climate Change” category before it was terminated were:

“Tropical Ice Cores Show Two Abrupt Global Climate Shifts (June 27)

“Global Warming Topped Natural Cycles in Fueling 2005 Hurricanes” (June 23)

Why was USINFO’s climate change collection terminated?  Did someone higher up object to the content of the climate change collection?  Was someone unhappy about the prominence afforded to the stories? 

The Bureau of International Information Programs is the principal international strategic communications service for the foreign affairs community. These communications are aimed at key international audiences, such as the media, government officials, opinion leaders, and the general public in more than 140 countries around the world. We suggest that reporters, Congressional offices, federal climate change program leaders, and international web site visitors call on the Bureau of International Information Programs, and the department’s senior climate change negotiator and CCSP representative Harlan Watson, for an explanation of why the State Department thinks it is desirable to downgrade climate change communication via this web page disappearing act. 

The page featuring the “retirement” announcement is dated July 5, 2005.  The link to archived stories in the “Climate Change” collection no longer is provided. The archive page still exists (for now), but appears to be orphaned, i.e., not linked to other USINFO pages and thus not visible to site visitors unless they know exactly where to look for it and key in the URL.  Because we had noted this URL before it was disconnected, we can go to it and examine the collection of material the State Department has decided that now is the time to “retire.”  Thus:

Climate Change Archive
Stories posted in the “Climate Change” category during the 6 months prior to its “retirement” on July 5

Tropical Ice Cores Show Two Abrupt Global Climate Shifts
Global Warming Topped Natural Cycles in Fueling 2005 Hurricanes
World’s Deserts Are Threatened but Promising Ecosystems
Mountain Snow Melt Projected as Climate Change Consequence
Natural Disasters Called Threat to Growth in Western Hemisphere
Pollution, Greenhouse Gases and Climate Clash in South Asia
Scientists Use Tibetan Storms To Study Climate Prediction
International Pact To Protect Ozone Layer Working, Scientists Say
U.S. Climate Change Program Confirms Human Effects on Warming
U.S., Asian Partners Bring Focus to Energy, Environment Issues
New Models Suggest Human Activity Adds to Ocean Warming
Climate Change Partnership Pursues Multiple Goals
United States Issues Inventory on Greenhouse Gases
U.S.-Taiwanese Innovative Satellite Array To Launch April 14
NASA, International Partners To Measure Sea Levels
Warmer Ocean Waters Threaten Glaciers, Ice Sheets Worldwide
NASA Study Links Smog to Arctic Warming
NASA Survey Confirms Climate Effect on Polar Ice Sheets
U.S, German Effort Detects Large Loss of Antarctic Ice Mass
Greenland Ice Loss Doubled in 10 Years, NASA Scientists Say
U.S. Committed to Asia-Pacific Climate Partnership, Rice Says
International Flights Study Cloud Effects on Climate
La Nia Weather Pattern Has Returned, U.S. Science Agency Says
NASA Scientists Say 2005 Was the Warmest Year in a Century
United States Begins Atmospheric Studies in Niger
U.S. Weather Agency Predicts Weak Spring La Nia Event
Climate Change Partnership Looks to Private Sector for Help
Climate Change Drives Amphibian Extinctions, Scientists Say
Bush To Request $52 Million for Asia-Pacific Energy Partnership
Pacific Partnership Aims for Cleaner Energy, Less Pollution
U.S. Delegation Arrives in Australia for Climate Ministerial
Six Asia-Pacific Nations Join in Climate Change Partnership
Global Warming Can Cause Extreme Climate Change, Scientists Say

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