Protecting climate change data under Trump

Librarians have been downloading and storing the data for months in anticipation.
Just after Donald Trump was inaugurated, climate change information was removed from the White House website. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Just after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president, a range of climate change information was removed from the White House website.

And now, Trump's administration says they are reviewing the content of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website after it was reported that he ordered the EPA to remove its climate change page.

These moves were anticipated. Trump has repeatedly denied global warming, even calling it a scam.

Margaret Janz
Since late November, dozens of programmers, scientists and environmentalists have been holding volunteer "data rescue" events around the U.S. and even in Canada.

Margaret Janz is the data curation librarian at the University of Pennsylvania.

She and other members of their Data Refuge group have been working tirelessly to download and safely store vulnerable and valuable federal climate change and environmental data.

Thanks to Michael Riedijk, there will also be a copy of the data stored outside the U.S. on his European servers. Michael is the CEO of the Canadian-based data archiving company Page Freezer.

"I reached out to them and told them we have this complete web crawling archive infrastructure in place, and I believe what you are doing is important, and I want to provide our platform," Michael explains.

University of Pennsylvania's DataRefuge event. (photo by: Naomi Waltham-Smith)

So what's really at stake here?

Margaret explains that federal environmental and climate change data not only helps inform our scientific knowledge of the earth, but it also affects many people on a day-to-day basis.

"A lot of this data, while it may seem like 'oh, it's just used for climate modelling', is also used for making public health decisions or community development."

University of Pennsylvania's DataRefuge event. (photo by: Naomi Waltham-Smith)

"We need to make sure this data is available always to everybody," says Margaret.

"I do care deeply about the environment and like living on this planet, and even though it's been a little rough lately, I'd like it to not get any worse."


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