Thursday, March 29, 2018

Buried, Altered, Silenced:  Ways Government Climate Information Has Changed Since Trump Took Office

By Morgan Currie, Stanford University and Britt S. Paris, University of California, Los Angeles

March for Science in San Francisco, California, on April 22, 2017. (Image Credit: Matthew Roth, CC BY-NC) Click to Enlarge.
After Donald Trump won the presidential election, hundreds of volunteers around the U.S. came together to “rescue” federal data on climate change, thought to be at risk under the new administration.  Guerilla archivists, including ourselves, gathered to archive federal websites and preserve scientific data.

But what has happened since?  Did the data vanish?

As of one year later, there has been no great purge.  Federal data sets related to environmental and climate science are still accessible in the same ways they were before Trump took office.

However, in many other instances, federal agencies have tampered with information about climate change.  Across agency websites, documents have disappeared, web pages have vanished, and language has shifted in ways that appear to reflect the policies of the new administration.

Two groups have been keeping a watchful eye on developments.  We both belong to the Environmental Data Governance Initiative, the organization behind the data rescue events.  The initiative now monitors tens of thousands of federal websites with the help of specialized tracking software.  In January the group published a report that describes sweeping changes to federal web resources.

Meanwhile, Columbia University’s Silencing Science Tracker documents news stories about climate scientists who have been discouraged from conducting, publishing or otherwise communicating scientific research.

These groups have documented four ways that climate-related information has become less accessible since Trump took office.

Read more at Buried, Altered, Silenced:  4 Ways Government Climate Information Has Changed Since Trump Took Office

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