Saving climate data
The Department of Energy has rejected Trump's demand that it list all employees working on climate change. But this will change on January 20th. All signs point to the worst:The heads of Donald Trump’s transition teams for NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy, as well as his nominees to lead the EPA and the Department of the Interior, all question the science of human-caused climate change.
So, scientists are now backing up large amounts of climate data, just in case
the Trump administration tries to delete it.
Of course saving the data publicly available on US government sites is not nearly as good as keeping climate programs fully funded! New data is coming in all the time from satellites and other sources. We need it - and we need the experts who understand it.
Also, it's possible that Trump won't be insane enough to delete big climate science databases. But as my mother said: better safe than sorry!“What are the most important .gov climate assets?” Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and self-proclaimed “climate hawk,” tweeted from his Arizona home Saturday evening. “Scientists: Do you have a US .gov climate database that you don’t want to see disappear?”Within hours, responses flooded in from around the country. Scientists added links to dozens of government databases to a Google spreadsheet. Investors offered to help fund efforts to copy and safeguard key climate data. Lawyers offered pro bono legal help. Database experts offered to help organize mountains of data and to house it with free server space. In California, Santos began building an online repository to “make sure these data sets remain freely and broadly accessible.”The efforts include a “guerrilla archiving” event in Toronto, where experts will copy irreplaceable public data, meetings at the University of Pennsylvania focused on how to download as much federal data as possible in the coming weeks, and a collaboration of scientists and database experts who are compiling an online site to harbor scientific information.“Something that seemed a little paranoid to me before all of a sudden seems potentially realistic, or at least something you’d want to hedge against,” said Nick Santos, an environmental researcher at the University of California at Davis, who over the weekend began copying government climate data onto a nongovernment server, where it will remain available to the public. “Doing this can only be a good thing. Hopefully they leave everything in place. But if not, we’re planning for that.”
At the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, where more than 20,000 earth and climate scientists gather from around the world, there is a public demonstration today at 1:30:https://www.facebook.com/events/310950549304143
And the "guerilla archiving" hackathon in Toronto is this Saturday. If you know people with good computer skills there, get them to check it out! Here are details:
-----------------------------------------------------------------Guerrilla Archiving HackathonDate:
10am-4pm, December 17, 2016Location:
Bissell Building, 4th Floor, 140 St. George St. University of TorontoRSVP and up-to-date information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1828129627464671/Bring:
laptops, power bars, and snacks. Coffee and pizza provided.
This event collaborates with the Internet Archive’s End of Term 2016 project, which seeks to archive the federal online pages and data that are in danger of disappearing during the Trump administration. Our event is focused on preserving information and data from the Environmental Protection Agency, which has programs and data at high risk of being removed from online public access or even deleted. This includes climate change, water, air, toxics programs. This project is urgent because the Trump transition team has identified the EPA and other environmental programs as priorities for the chopping block.
The Internet Archive is a San Francisco-based nonprofit digital library which aims at preserving and making universally accessible knowledge. Its End of Term web archive captures and saves U.S. Government websites that are at risk of changing or disappearing altogether during government transitions. The Internet Archive has asked volunteers to help select and organize information that will be preserved before the Trump transition.
End of Term web archive: http://eotarchive.cdlib.org/2016.html
New York Times article: “Harvesting Government History, One Web Page at a Time” http://nyti.ms/2gDz5KjActivities:
Identifying endangered programs and data
Seeding the End of Term webcrawler with priority URLs
Identifying and mapping the location of inaccessible environmental databases
Hacking scripts to make accessible to the webcrawler hard to reach databases.
Building a toolkit so that other groups can hold similar events
Skills needed: We need all kinds of people — and that means you!
People who can locate relevant webpages for the Internet Archive’s webcrawler
People who can identify data targeted for deletion by the Trump transition team and the organizations they work with
People with knowledge of government websites and information, including the EPA
People with library and archive skills
People who are good at navigating databases
People interested in mapping where inaccessible data is located at the EPA
Hackers to figure out how to extract data and URLs from databases (in a way that Internet Archive can use)
People with good organization and communication skills
People interested in creating a toolkit for reproducing similar events
Contacts: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
The first quote in my article is from here - this is full of detailed info:
Oliver Milman, Trump's transition: sceptics guide every agency dealing with climate change, The Guardian
, 12 December 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/12/donald-trump-environment-climate-change-skeptics
The second is from here:
Brady Dennis, Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump, Washington Post
, 13 December 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/13/scientists-are-frantically-copying-u-s-climate-data-fearing-it-might-vanish-under-trump/
I hope the small "guerilla archiving" efforts will be dwarfed by more systematic work, because it's crucial that databases be copied along with all relevant metadata - and some sort of cryptographic certificate of authenticity
, if possible. However, getting lots of people involved is bound to be a good thing, politically speaking.
If you have good computer skills, good understanding of databases, or lots of storage space, please get involved. Efforts are being coordinated here:http://www.ppehlab.org/datarefuge
PPEHLab and Penn Libraries are organizing a #DataRescue
event at the University of Pennsylvania 13-14 January 2017.
Also read Eric Holthaus's tweets and replies here:https://twitter.com/EricHolthaus/with_replies