Scientists are scrambling to save government climate data before Trump is sworn in

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Scientists are scrambling to download troves of climate data collected by government agencies that they fear could disappear under a Trump administration, according to Motherboard and The Washington Post. Efforts include saving the data on independent servers and making it available on websites. The concern is that once Donald Trump becomes president and takes control of the .gov websites hosting climate data collected by agencies like NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that data could be whitewashed or made inaccessible.

That concern is justified. Trump has repeatedly called human-caused climate change a “hoax.” He picked a climate change denier to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the CEO of ExxonMobil to be secretary of state. His pick to lead the Department of Energy, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is also a climate denier and has censored climate scientists in his home state. Trump’s team also requested Energy Department officials to provide the names of civil service employees who attended climate meetings and worked on climate issues during the Obama administration. (The DOE refused to provide the names.)

The Trump transition team hasn’t answered questions about what will happen to climate data, so the scientific community is bracing for the worst. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus asked scientists to add government climate databases to a Google spreadsheet, so that the data can be copied and saved on independent servers.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have also been meeting up with institutions like Azavea, Open Data Philly, and Science Outreach Initiative to figure out a way to safely store scientific data, according to The Washington Post. This weekend, another meeting at the University of Toronto called Guerrilla Archiving will seek “to archive the federal online pages and data that are in danger of disappearing during the Trump administration.”

Another project, called the “End of Term Web Archive,” tries to archive content on government websites before every presidential transition. The project, which is run by several university and also the Library of Congress, did the same work at the end of the 2008 and 2012 terms. This year, the project’s leaders are sensing more urgency than before, and they’re expected to collect between 30 and 40 terabytes of information from government’s websites, according to Motherboard.

The scientific community isn’t being paranoid. During the George W. Bush administration, there was widespread censorship of climate change information; data on global warming on government websites was not updated promptly. A top NASA scientist, James E. Hansen, also accused the Bush administration of trying to silence him on matters of climate change.

In view of Trump administration’s appointments so far, the feeling in the scientific community for now is better safe than sorry.

Comments

I hope this ends up being unnecessary paranoia, but I’m also fucking glad that it’s happening.

I’m also glad that the Department of Energy told Trump to eat a dick re: the list of climate change staffers.

I like to think we’d come together to prevent him from erasing all acknowledgement of climate change from the government, but my faith in humanity is basically shot.

I can’t believe this presidency is happening at all. Maybe I’m still stuck in that first stage of grief, but I feel like something has to happen before he’s actually sworn into office. I can’t fathom the thought of a demented, ex-reality tv star actually being leader of the free world.

What a sad, sad condition I find our country in. From JFK saying "we need more engineers" to this.

The fact that this is even necessary is unreal.

I know. Climate scientists backing up their data, college kids seeking political asylum, media pundits talking about Russia like its 1959… unreal

can’t they just upload to the cloud?

The new administration will also have access to agencies and infrastructure that could also snoop on data in the cloud.

There’s tons of out of country cloud storage. Mega, for instance. Most tech companies have storage outside the US. Or they could release it as torrents.

This is very sad and reminiscent of the steps museums took in Europe after Hitler took over to preserve historical heritage that the Fuhrer wanted to eradicate.

… or the "2012" movie

Why don’t they just publish this stuff if its all so veritably true, so if trump "whitewashed" it they could call him on it publicly?

Go!

It is published when the scientists are done readying it, constantly. Here though, the scientists want to make sure the data is preserved so we and others can continue to use it going forward – cause this is something playing out over the next decades etc..

The scientific community learned from the Fossil Fuel Industry / Bush Administration from (2000-2008) – direct political involvement in what were supposed to be policy free scientific areas and destruction / elimination of data were things that happened at the hands of the Fossil Fuel Lobbyist’s power…they want those profits regardless of the risks/consequences for the future of the U.S. and its children (a very non-conservative way to handle something like this..which is how you can tell money/power is steering the GOP on this).

It is published when the scientists are dont readying it, constantly

Doesn’t this mean that the DoE and EPA are creating policy on findings that aren’t even "ready" yet? And constantly seems to imply the process will never end, so we’ll never be ever to look at the data were making policy decisions on?

Sad to see scientists preparing the dooms day bunker.

I feel bad for y’all.

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