In the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 programmers, scientists, archivists, and librarians race to save U.S. government climate data from the Trump administration, 14 January 2017. Photo: Naomi Waltham-Smith

By Zoë Schlanger
19 January 2017

(Wired) – At 10 AM the Saturday before inauguration day, on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 hackers, scientists, archivists, and librarians were hunched over laptops, drawing flow charts on whiteboards, and shouting opinions on computer scripts across the room. They had hundreds of government web pages and data sets to get through before the end of the day—all strategically chosen from the pages of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—any of which, they felt, might be deleted, altered, or removed from the public domain by the incoming Trump administration.

Their undertaking, at the time, was purely speculative, based on travails of Canadian government scientists under the Stephen Harper administration, which muzzled them from speaking about climate change. Researchers watched as Harper officials threw thousands of books of aquatic data into dumpsters as federal environmental research libraries closed.

But three days later, speculation became reality as news broke that the incoming Trump administration’s EPA transition team does indeed intend to remove some climate data from the agency’s website. That will include references to President Barack Obama’s June 2013 Climate Action Plan and the strategies for 2014 and 2015 to cut methane, according to an unnamed source who spoke with Inside EPA. “It’s entirely unsurprising,” said Bethany Wiggin, director of the environmental humanities program at Penn and one of the organizers of the data-rescuing event. […]

At Penn, a group of coders that called themselves “baggers” set upon these tougher sets immediately, writing scripts to scrape the data and collect them in data bundles to be uploaded to, an Amazon Web Services-hosted site which will serve as an alternate repository for government climate and environmental research during the Trump administration. (A digital “bag” is like a safe, which would alert the user if anything within it is changed.) [more]

Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump


  1. Irhologram said...

    "According to an unnamed source"??

    No. That won't do anymore....Nor it was EVER acceptable previously as a journalistic standard TAUGHT to myself and fellow students in study for our BJ degrees. Name your source or relay the story with the objectivity it deserves.

    Without an hysterical or anti-Trump slant, the story would read that the individual who WAS named enlisted a group of EPA workers to provide hard-copy back-up data for computer records im order to prevent revisionists in the new administration, grid failure, or hacking from altering digital files...all of which are legitimate reasons for doing what should ALWAYS be done....hard-copy back-up of sensitive computer-stored information.

    My LEGITIMATE questions are: 1) Why wasn't back-up in multiple formats done all along? 2) If Canada is our model, and if incoming administrations are a threat, WHY was this back-up still left undone until days before the inauguration, and so now requiring completion in dramatic haste? 3) Was the last minute urgency because the expectation was that Trump would not take office, even after the early Dec. electoral decision?

    Think why such stories are written with bias. Think of the timing of the release date and what the perception of such a desperate scramble is meant to accomplish.  

  2. Jim said...

    This effort has been ongoing since December: In ‘guerrilla archiving’ event, scientists are copying U.S. climate data to remote servers, fearing Trump will order its destruction

    Obviously, it has never been necessary to protect public data from the government, but now that the forces of antiscience control the Congress and the Executive, unprecedented actions must be taken to preserve these national assets. The Trump wrecking crew already has removed the climate change page from the White House site, and Trump's transition team has announced that climate data will be stripped from the EPA site.  


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