Thursday, January 19, 2017

Scientists race to save data on climate-change, fearing a Trump dump

The Huffington Post, Business Insider and Inverse Science have reported in the past few days that scientists are racing to protect and save climate data stored at the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prior to Trump’s inauguration tomorrow.  Trump, a devout climate change-denier, has nominated another global warming denier Scott Pruitt to head the EPA.  Scientists fear this administration could wipe out important data on environmental issues beyond just climate data.  

On January 12, 2017, the Sierra Club filed Freedom of Information Act requests for information held by the EPA and the Department of Energy, while similar efforts are being undertaken elsewhere, such as DataRefuge, at University of Pennsylvania’s Program in Environmental Humanities.  PhD students at Harvard have joined with other scientists and policymakers to form Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, which is working to archive publicly available information and monitor changes in government websites. 

Data purges have been carried out by previous administrations, such as W. for example.  During his regime, EPA shut down some of its research libraries and reduced access to important data.  A Trump advisor has suggested NASA cease its climate research and focus on space exploration.  The Trump team has also asked the Department of Energy to provide names of employees and contractors who have participated in international climate talks and President Obama’s work on regulating carbon emissions, a request the DoE has denied.  Ronald Regan, whom the New York Times said trees cause pollution, appointed two champions of industry, including Anne M. Burford as Administrator for the EPA, but forced to resign after being investigated by Congress in mismanaging toxic waste remediation.

There is no direct promise from the Trump group to purge scientific data or make it vanish, but scientists are taking no chances.

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