Thursday, December 15, 2016

Climate change: Saving the data

One of the standard moves in the climate denier playbook is to make climate change "go away" by shutting down institutions, firing the scientists and deleting all the data. Tony Abbott tried this in Australia, shutting down the Climate Commission and sacking hundreds of scientists in an effort to prevent future work on climate change. Now, US climate scientists are protecting themselves against similar moves by the incoming Trump regime by organising a mass copying of all their data:

Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference.

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 non-government 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.”

Their fears seem well-founded. The Trump regime is being stuffed with climate change deniers, wants to shut down NASA's climate change work, and seems to be gearing up for a witch-hunt against climate scientists. Faced with that, protecting the US's data from denier vandalism begins to look like a bloody good idea.