How Can I Help Scientists and/or Others?
December 13, 2016 9:42 AM   Subscribe

According to the Washington Post today, scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump. Seems like a reasonable worry to me. The Internet Archive is also copying its data. Can a normal person contribute to these or related efforts? Difficulty level: Time but not much money.

Hey hive mind, I'm not a scientist, I'm just an underemployed editor with some time on my hands before I go back to work February 1st. How might I contribute to protecting data or other resources that may be endangered under a Trump presidency between now and the end of January? The standard answer is donating money to worthy causes. I've donated all the money I can afford this year. Might there be other ways to contribute, specifically to protecting resources such as data? Skills include writing, PR, the ancient art of telephoning, etc. Ideas welcome!
posted by Bella Donna to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
As a scientist, I wouldn't spend your time reaching out to anyone in a federal agency - not that they don't care, but that the restrictions for outside help are tight.

Instead, send a few emails to the academics mentioned in the article, as well as other climate scientists in institutions - both large and small - especially near you, and see if they have any ideas/need. Perhaps they need help crafting newsletters or blog posts. Perhaps they know someone else who needs help.

Even publicizing this article will help get the word out that this is happening.
posted by umwhat at 6:05 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The #DataRefuge and End of Term 2016 sites both mention a few ways for volunteers to get involved, if you're up for scouring threatened government websites yourself.

Archive Team might be worth a look. They're not particularly focused on preservation of politicized information, but it sounds like they are interested in working on this - the Google spreadsheet in that tweet is the one mentioned in your first article.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 6:16 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: What Gerald Bostock said. I am an archivist in touch with the Penn EH Lab people who are leading #DataRefuge - they are working closely with folks from the End of Term project as well. Follow what they are doing, let them know how you can help. They appear to be emerging as the leaders on this right now, Eric Holthaus asked them to take over the spreadsheet he crowdsourced. Also keep your eye on what the people up in Toronto are doing.

If you want to nominate sites yourself for the End of Term harvest project, nominate them here. While archiving webpages is a (relatively) straightforward process, scraping and preserving the datasets that are often buried way inside presents a stickier challenge. The Toronto and Penn folks are keenly aware of this and are working as fast as they can on these issues.
posted by mostly vowels at 7:58 PM on December 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I am a scientist, and although I do not work on climate data in any way (I'm in neuroscience), I do work for a federal agency which Trump has threatened to completely de-fund on more than one occasion. We aren't just worried about data; some of us are afraid our jobs won't even exist. In light of that, calling your elected officials to express support for continued funding of federal departments you care about, and science funding, would really help.
posted by Cygnet at 7:01 AM on December 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

What Cygnet said. I am a young scientist in integrative biology, and I am reeling so hard in part because I sincerely think the days of my profession in the US are numbered, based on the state of federal funding today and the likelihood of even more severe cuts under Trump. I have watched grant acceptance rates in my field from the primary funding source for my entire discipline drop to 6% just since I started graduate school. I don't think I will be able to find jobs in science here at all by 2018, when I expect to go on the job market.

You may want to check in with the Union of Concerned Scientists, who are doing good work to advocate for scientists and science in this most terrifying of climates.
posted by sciatrix at 4:28 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Internet Archive has posted a request for help with archiving government websites (this was 3 days ago). Maybe contact them?
posted by StrawberryPie at 6:14 PM on December 29, 2016

There is a new Indiegogo funding drive to support an effort to protect environmental data. The group organizing it is and they have info about other ongoing efforts.
posted by StrawberryPie at 12:26 PM on January 5, 2017

« Older Looking for a Gmail equivalent   |   Star Wars-related things in Washington DC + Mount... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.