A new report from the Washington Post reveals that America’s climate scientists are frantically attempting to copy government records to protect them from any potential political interference. They fear that Trump may attempt to alter or dismantle years’ worth of data available on government websites, tracking everything from sea level rise to the number of wildfires that have ravaged the American West.
At the University of Toronto, two professors from the Technoscience Research Unit are calling on the public to help in a “guerilla archiving event,” identifying public data at a high risk of being purged from the web and archiving it. This includes information from the Environmental Protection Agency, which Trump is planning to place under Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general with a history of suing the agency and fighting clean air and water regulations.
The University of Pennsylvania is taking action as well, meeting with institutions including Azavea, Open Data Philly, and the Science Outreach Initiative to figure out the best way to safely store this scientific data.
Another project called the “End of Term Web Archive” has been preserving government websites at risk of disappearing or being significantly altered by administration changes since 2008. This year, it seems they’ve got their work cut out for them.
It’s Not Just Paranoia – Republicans Really Are Out To Censor Climate Science
While these precautions may seem, on their face, to be a bit paranoid, there’s reason to be suspicious of the president-elect’s cabinet. He’s nominated numerous climate change skeptics to high-ranking positions. He’s promised to pull out of the Paris Climate Treaty. He’s proposed deep cuts to NASA’s Earth Science division. And, of course, who can forget Trump’s tweets declaring climate change to be a Chinese-engineered hoax?
This isn’t the first time scientists have spoken up about government censorship of crucial climate data. Under the George W. Bush administration, global warming data on government websites was simply not updated, and sometimes even censored. One top NASA scientist, James E. Hansen, claimed Bush attempted to stop him from speaking about climate change, monitored his conversations with journalists, and reviewed his scientific work.
It’s no wonder researchers are concerned: the Trump administration has taken an even harder line against climate science in recent weeks, with some suggesting he intends to completely purge the government of any works who accept the reality of climate change. However, if the worst case scenario doesn’t come to pass, at least we can rest assured that this crucial information will be backed up independently through multiple scholarly databases.
If you’d like to help identify information that needs to be duplicated, you can learn how to get involved here.
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