Ensuring Climate Data Remains Public


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How do we keep important environmental and climate data accessible amidst political instability and risk? What even counts as an “accessible” dataset? Could we imagine better infrastructures for vital data? By describing the rapid data preservation efforts of U.S. environmental data that started in the wake of the recent election, I’ll address these questions and the new and existing issues that preservation surfaced about the vulnerability of data infrastructures. I'll focusing on specific projects, including the work of EDGI, that is trying to address these challenges by creating alternate forms of access and infrastructure!

Climate change data often relies on state-supported scientific research infrastructure-- ranging from agency data centres, satellites, and the compute clusters powering climate, air, and water modelling. Days after the 2016 US election, scholars and activists mobilized to preserve both environmental data and the research infrastructure generating it. While rapid data preservation efforts encouraged many people to act, we are faced with long-standing vulnerabilities in data infrastructure.

In this talk I will describe the range of groups involved in data preservation efforts that have been ongoing since November 2016, unpack some of the recent and long-standing issues with data preservation, and speak to the ways people are actively addressing these challenges. In particular, I’ll talk about an organization I am a member of, the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI), a distributed network of academics and non-profits that has engaged in a range of projects including guerilla archiving of federal datasets, ongoing monitoring of content changes on environmental and energy websites, and contributing to growing conversations around Environmental Data Justice.


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