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Mirroring US climate data (climatemirror.org)
448 points by pirocks on Jan 26, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 162 comments



If you want to help towards archiving climate data and other gov't public datasets, join the ArchiveTeam effort. All you need is to run their ftp-gov-grab script and a bit of bandwidth. VPSs work very well for this sort of thing, so if you have a box lying around, just run the script.

More info at the wiki: http://archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Ftp-gov

Ftp-gov-grab: https://github.com/ArchiveTeam/ftp-gov-grab

Join us on IRC: #cheetoflee on freenode


Correction: it seems to be #cheetoflee on efnet.org


oops, thanks for that.


Another useful tactic is to archive news and commentary (left and right) about current political events, both for accountability and perhaps, to prevent the rewriting of history in the era of "alternative facts".


It is not sufficient to have a record of facts when others have alternative facts. To your signed record of facts they would just introduce alternate facts with alternative signatures and claim you had made it up. Normal people don't have the tools or experience to differentiate, and the alternative facts support a story they want to believe, rather than hard truths.

News media won't even mention your so-called 'real facts', facebook and twitter might not let others see them. Before you know it you'll be denounced by your neighbours, work colleagues and friends as a traitor, a madman. You'll lose your job, or your partner will. There may be a show trial and public denunciation. This has all happened before: the USSR, McCarthy.

If you don't want that you need an alternate means of distributing real facts, and countering fake ones. It has to be hosted so deeply in our tech infrastructure that it can't be firewalled or jammed. It needs to be accessible covertly. And it needs to record all the alternative facts too, because they like to change their facts.

Let's call it Samizdat.


The US government can't make all of the real scientists out there just disappear. Climate models have an impact on many different fields of research and unless there's a total shutdown of science (which seems absurd) those people and facts will still be there.

There's a portion of the population who's wanted to deny climate change for a long time and I believe they'll accept the alt-facts to justify their position. But I'm skeptical about the efficacy of successfully silencing existing news groups and the majority of scientists.

Has anything like that ever been successful in the connected world? That being said, we do absolutely need to make protect our internet from censorship.


The previous Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper did just this, muzzling or shutting down essentially any form of scientific research that was politically inconvenient.

The chilling effect can be very real, and I think you'd be surprised how quickly it can take hold. And Harper was an absolute pussycat compared to Trump.


Go look at any list of recently-cancelled television shows. You will be shocked at the number of them that you liked, but have now slipped from your mind. Public memory is fickle and it is very possible to remove even widespread facts.

Example: a few years back a uk submarine was stuck high aground. As the tide went out the prop was exposed. I and a billion other people saw it live on bbc news. (Blue poly fins, at least 10 inside a housing). Good luck trying to find that image now. It has been sucessfully removed. The internet isnt the great memory well we all want it to be. With effort, facts can be changed, events scrubbed.


Interesting about the propellor of HMS Astute. I found this page: http://bubbleheads.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/hms-astute-aground... which links to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8p2LuvoXKmU which is apparently not available.

I'd be interested to see if anyone can drag up an archive of that video.

EDIT: Might be this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgX4OYIFl-c but doesn't contain any view of the propellor.


> Go look at any list of recently-cancelled television shows. You will be shocked at the number of them that you liked, but have now slipped from your mind. Public memory is fickle and it is very possible to remove even widespread facts.

Change and censorship aren't synonymous and I have no expectation that anything will last forever. But it's easier to ignore and forget about something like a television show than something like global climate change.

My post was in relation to the mass censorship required to create a world like the parent post described.

As for your submarine, that's interesting. Was it this one? http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-116053... I'm not doubting the ability to censor things, especially before they become widespread, but climate change will be much harder because it's already a part of our vocabulary.


Id say that mass-censorship isnt the goal. You only have to keep a small mumber of influential americans distracted. That group (the perhaps 25% who have both a vote and money/time to donate), they dictate national policy. Everyone else can scream all they want to no end. The internet allows for such focused censorship.


Even fewer if you have a gerrymandered election system. Steve Bannon, now senior advisor to Trump, is on the board of Cambridge Analytica, a company that built (and presumably enabled the exploitation of) psychological profiles to maximize shares/distribution of content on social media, targeting specific geographic clusters:

1: http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/12/the-british-data-cruncher...

2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambridge_Analytica

3: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/04/google-de...

The Trump campaign paid this group millions of dollars beginning in the summer of 2016.


According to Wikipedia Astute-class submarines use a hydrojet [1] instead of a classical propeller. That explains the unusual encased look. Here is an image [2] with the propulsion system hidden behind some fabric covers but still giving away the general shape. And this thread [3] has a few images of a hydrojet of a Sowjet Kilo-class submarine.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astute-class_submarine#Propuls...

[2] http://www.shipwrecklog.com/log/2010/10/h-m-s-astute-aground...

[3] http://www.betasom.it/forum/index.php?showtopic=29393


The new tech seems to be many more but thinner blades made out of composite material. It is so secret because if you know the surface area of the blades you can work out the availible horsepower, speeds, and likely frequencies emitted. So they are covered to hide then even from crew. Many people working inside subs dont know what props actually look like.

Propulsion tech was part of the accident because, i believe, these subs do not have rudders. They vector thrust like a jetski and therefore have issues when moving slowly.


I didn't even know that submarines no longer use classical propellers. I was surprised when I read it on Wikipedia and then again when I noticed that this is not unique to the Astate-class while trying to find images of hydrojet submarines. You can see this in the way I worded my comment, I guess it was pretty obvious to you.


Is http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/660/media/images/49616000/jpg/_... what you are referring to?

Second result for me when searching Google Image Search for "bbc uk stuck submarine."


But find the image of the prop half out of the water. Thats the super-secret thing they were so embarrased about. Those images have been surgically removed from the internet.

The full story involves a dilema between forcing the boat off the ground, and risk stripping its super-secret rubber coatings that might then be collected by russian agents, or letting the tide go out and expose the prop to the media.


The Canadian government bought some used subs from the UK 10 or 15 years ago. One of the subs had a huge dent and I mean Oldsmobile sized. The Brits seem to have a tough time navigating their subs.


Still, I'd expect media companies to be more likely to comply with orders to remove military secrets than to remove scientific data.

But you're right, censorship happens. How do we prevent it?


The UK in particular doesn't seem to have ever been overly enamoured with the idea of an intrinsic right to unlimited free speech.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_the_United_Kin...


You talk about facts like you don't live in a post-positivist world! You have no idea what you are talking about. "Facts" and "truth" are part of philosophy, but bear very little value in the real world. Just get used to it.


In reply, let me first quote your own words:

> There was once "broad consensus" that the world was flat. I am not at all comfortable when there is so much consensus. There needs to be debate, disagreement, and healthy skepticism at all times.

The key point is that the flat earthers kept believing (and angrily counter-attacking) despite the solid evidence to the contrary. Post-positivism is not claiming that everything is subjective and bias is insurmountable. You're not being sceptical, just delusional.


There was never a broad consensus that the world was flat.


What would a reliable source be for "never"?


Anything written with electrons?


And not just archive it, but sign it, time stamp it, verify it, etc.. I see little to prevent someone using ML to auto-generate archives worth of fake history. Imagine a purported DB dump of Reddit with billions of subtlely fraudulent comments scattered throughout.


Is there any good way to timestamp things like this?


See OpenTimestamps: https://petertodd.org/2016/opentimestamps-announcement

It timestamps to Bitcoin, and you don't need to own any Bitcoin for it to work.


Wow, the "Stamper" by Matthew Richardson is still running! http://www.itconsult.co.uk/stamper/stampinf.htm This is pretty close to what you need. Getting an email with SHA256's of an archive of scrapes signed would do the trick.


That's awesome that something like that is still running on the internet all these years!

EFF, or some organization with more longevity than a single consultant should build something similar.


Hash the content and store the hash in the Bitcoin blockchain.


Specifically using OriginStamp[1], which aggregates multiple hashes before creating a transaction. This makes it possible for the service to scale without increasing costs or transaction volume.

https://www.originstamp.org/


Alternatively you could publish the hash in a major newspaper.


I don't have write access to a major newspaper. Sure, big organisations, when the political climate is right, can do things like that. What is there available for the little person?


Just take out an ad. A small ad in the uninteresting part of the newspaper shouldn't be that expensive.


Is there no longer such a thing as the "classifieds" section?


Or store it in a Git repository, the "stupid content tracker". If you have binaries use git-annex.


What does Bitcoin have to do with this? That seems like abuse of its blockchain.


Immutability. But yeah, not ideal use of the Bitcoin blockchain at least.


Blockchains are good and often mentioned. But I just tweet out checksums of various things.


Providing diffs would be useful. A bunch of places do silent edits, sometimes making significant changes to meaning of articles.

BBC does this, and it's freaking annoying.


I created a script that allows for periodic archiving of the text of the top articles on several large news sites. There's a configuration file that allows for selecting any RSS feed to pull from.

https://github.com/xtruan/newsbot


There was a great talk about the datamining possibilities of such an archive at 33c3. English translation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYviBstTUwo


In torrent form: http://climatetorrent.com/ Torrents are a great way of maintaining data integrity and allowing future sharing easily.



Thanks, is this yours? It would be great if the homepage displayed a short description of the different torrents/datasets, their sizes/contents, and the number of seeders for each. That would greatly help me decide which one(s) to prioritize helping out with, as I don't have resources to keep a copy of it all.


I don't know who is behind this, I just saw it on /r/DataHoarder


Is it possible to add ftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov to that torrent?


Can I be the first to claim that the people running the mirror are changing the data for their own nefarious purposes?

Not that I believe this or anything, but come on - you know that accusation is going to go around. It might make sense to use a remote server to timestamp files as they're uploaded, or something like that.


On the actual mirrors site you can see some have been signed and verified: https://climate.daknob.net/

Ultimately still comes down to trust. Still better to have a backup of data that MIGHT be poisoned vs not having it at all. If we have multiple copies from the original source we should be able to determine if somethings been messed with.


I would say the same thing. Do you think you will really convince a climate denier with this data that you copied off of the Internet that, was copied from a gov server, on to another server and then torrented and copied to another server and then downloaded onto you PC... doubt it.


>Do you think you will really convince a climate denier with this data

These people where convinced a pizza restaurant was the center of a global pedo ring based on nothing but deliberately misconstrued sentences they claim are code.

They'll believe whatever they want.


Agree. I think we're better off reproducing altered versions of the Bible and getting the message out that way.

(I think I'm being a smartass, btw. I think.)


I still suspect something will come out about that. It may be that "honey pot" operation the FBI was running got misconstrued, but I still bet there is some grain of truth to what was uncovered because all the other issues brought up by "anonymous FBI" pretty much came true, so that means it was someone on the inside feeding basically rumors from that organization, most of which were corroborated.


It's worth noting that not everyone who rebuffs some of the proposed actions is a climate denier. There's still some question as to the extent of human involvement. That said, smog is enough for me to be in favor of working towards renewable, less polluting energy sources. In my lifetime I've gone from having allergy-like flare ups once every few years, to now 2-3 times a year, mostly seems to follow the pollution levels not just the pollen count.

By the same token, not every "green" program is a great thing... and even in treaties, exempting the worst actors (China, India) because they are often considered third world doesn't do a lot to help the global issues. Improved working requirements as a requisite for international trade deals would go a long way towards "cleaning up."

I bring this up, as I tend to see a lot of people who question the approach, intensity, and cost getting lumped in with climate deniers.


In your first sentence which actions are you referring to?


Not OP but the general complaint is that we shouldn't switch from a cheap energy source (coal) to expensive renewables which are relatively untested at scale if the human impact of climate change is minimal or already past the point of no return. I don't personally believe this but this is a not unreasonable argument I have heard.


Contribution to climate change shouldn't be the only criteria for evaluation of an energy source. Shouldn't we also keep in mind pollution? Coal burns, it releases fine particulates into the air that cause cancer in people's lungs. Pollution sucks. We should stop talking about climate change and go back to the 70s when people were talking about pollution.


Yeah, I agree with you - there a many many reasons why we should get off fossil fuels and reduce our energy consumption beyond climate change. I was just giving an example of about the most reasonable sounding excuse for inaction in this area. Regardless of one's political views there are plenty of solutions that appeal to the full breadth of the political system but the primary thing that they can't address is oil and gas company's desire to protect quarterly growth, people's misplaced political reasoning (I'm against action because the left is for it type arguments) and the fact that some people just don't like change that may indicate the way they have previously been doing something is wrong.


I completely agree... I mainly mean that some resources are less of an impact or more cost effective than others. I'm all for working to reduce pollution for the sake of, and if that means less carbon in the air, awesome. However, if your goal is really reducing some footprints then what materials are used/needed for construction and distribution have a huge impact. Not to mention the infrastructure security of potentially key infrastructure (power grid) relying on parts from an adversarial foreign state.


I'm not against trying to replace high polluting resources like coal... I am saying, that perhaps the investment in public solar grids make a lot less sense in many areas, and there is a relatively big impact in mining the materials and shipping the panels, many of which come from China, which is bad about clean build, not to mention shipping itself.

Likewise, trying to push for electric cars doesn't make a lot of sense in that the environmental impact of an electric car takes 5+ years to outweigh that of a gas car, not counting how the electricity is generated. Also, not accounting for the overall impact of replacing said batteries, or other maintenance.

And yes, cost is another issue... depending on what is the replacing technology, there are other cost-benefit analysis that should be done on a case by case bases against the larger impact. I also feel that if we take the premise at reducing pollution, vs. "omg the world is going to die" kind of reactionism it's a bit easier to sell more broadly to conservatives.

Fighting/reducing pollution should be enough of a goal by itself, a large enough portion of the population lives in large enough cities to understand smog and feel it when breathing, some cities far worse than others. The broader (saving the world) mentality doesn't do much on its' own, is much harder to sell, and too big.


I'm not the OP either, but there are also proposed carbon credits schemes that they might be referring to as well.


This. Although I don't think your allergy flare-ups have a direct causation there--it could just be you're aging. There's ten million variables.

I'm tired of the whole "you're a denier" shibboleth--there very well may be very strong negative human impact on the climate. I'm sure there is. Whether it is global is another question and whether it is stoppable is yet another. But what I most disgusted by is how the issue is used as a political weapon to basically implement a far left, collectivist agenda worldwide. It's like the old-school soviets found a new angle on justifying their desire for total control over populations. It will not stand.


How successful is the effort to convince clinate deniers as of right now? I see this as an archival effort. If the source is destroyed, this data, among everything else being archived, will still be around and publicly accessible by anyone who wants to use for any purpose. That is inherently important. That said, once the first part is well taken care of I'm a big advocate for building more refined systems for storing and verifying the information.


I work for a digital archives project and we're concerned about similar issues of provenance. Our way of dealing with this has been to structure our archives as JSON-formatted text in Git repositories, with binaries managed by git-annex.

Git uses hashes for everything: files are placed in .git/objects/ by their hash, each commit lists the hashes of files in the working directory, and each commit points to the hash(es) of its parent(s)

Using Git it's possible to verify the integrity of the entire repository and its history, making it impossible to tamper with without leaving traces. It's also possible to have multiple copies (clones) of the data and to verify that they are exactly the same.

If you have a copy of such a collection you can compare it against a copy held by the originating institution. If that becomes impossible for some reason, then if you can track down any of the original files you could prove that that portion of the data is correct, which lends trust to the rest of the collection.

Of course, it's possible this would not convince a die-hard trump supporter. /s


Before publishing, they could do a checksum, insert it into the blockchain and then voila. Easy to validate if the data has changed.


I am not sure checksums and block chains are gonna convince those people.


When there is a broad consensus across the scientific community about climate change, does it even matter at this point if the data has been changed? The U.S isn't the only country that collects this data. So even if changed, it doesn't matter.


> When there is a broad consensus across the scientific community about climate change, does it even matter at this point if the data has been changed?

There's more to climate science than the yes/no of whether climate change is a thing. We don't just need to know it's happening--we want to know details of how to model it, what different inputs have what affects, what the feedback loops are and how strong they are, how they and other effects interact...

> The U.S isn't the only country that collects this data. So even if changed, it doesn't matter.

Many countries collect data, but presumably the sets of data collected differ, and more data is better. Losing a large subset of our climate data would hurt advances in climate modeling.


> When there is a broad consensus across the scientific community about climate change, does it even matter at this point if the data has been changed?

It does if the data that was changed is the data that was used to support the consensus.

More generally, all data collected by research that is funded by taxpayers should be collected, cryptographically signed and verified, and archived where any taxpayer can see it. I have never understood why that is not already standard operating procedure.


Usually around IP incentives as part of the grant, in order to further entice applicants. This is taken further by pressure from educational institutions and their researchers to file for patents against said research.

I'm not saying it's right, and agree with you. But often there's a lot of entropy with the status quo, and to the seated incumbents in a space.


Does this carry over to federal agencies as well? I know the state of access to journals and papers published by universities is a shitshow but don't know how it is at the government level.


A lot of government research is completed by universities and private companies under grant programs.


Actually it really does matter. The US collects far more of this data than anybody else and archives far more of it.

Losing that collection or archive would be a disaster for science and a loss for all of humanity. Destroying that data would be reminiscent of ISIS destroying relics in Palmyra except that destroying that data jeopardizes our future.


Personally I don't see that it's that important.

We know already that CO2 and other gases cause climate change and we understand the mechanism. I think that most of us would probably also agree that the earth is a sufficiently complex system that predicting accurately what effects we will see when is impossible. We expect to see more droughts, bigger storms and rising sea levels - but we can't really predict very accurately how big those things will be when. By the time we have accurate models it will be too late.

We know that we need to act now. Understanding climate change is not the most important research out there; what's important is developing technologies and industries to reduce our emissions. That research would be what I fear losing.


But "we need to act now" can lead to a lot of ineffective policies and practices that won't lead to the most impacting outcomes long term. I think reciprocal clean working environments as part of trade negotiations could go farther than a lot of the attempts so far. I also feel that no participating country should be exempt, beyond a reasonable grace period (2-3 years).

It's also worth considering the impact of some movements... as an example, there's significant impact in creating/shipping and replacing batteries on a large scale. It may not make as much sense compared to more efficient engines, and even additional looks at other engine techniques.

I find pollution relatively abhorrent on its' own though... recently driving through west Louisianan/east Texas and my initial thoughts as to the painful to breath air there was how can this be allowed to persist. I have mixed feelings all around, I just don't want to spend a lot of taxpayer money on ill-advised and lesser impacting processes. We do too much of that already.


Consensus without data is indistinguishable from religion.


There was once "broad consensus" that the world was flat. I am not at all comfortable when there is so much consensus. There needs to be debate, disagreement, and healthy skepticism at all times.


I would argue that there has never really been a "broad consensus" that the world was flat, since before the greeks. Most of the notable greek philosophers believed that the earth was a ball/sphere.


I think that's why they suggest to use Webrecorder, to "create verifiable web archive files".


Run webrecorder yourself, MITM yourself, tamper however you like. Verifiability depends on a trusted authority first.


No. The right wing troll community beat you to it months ago.


Having backups is obviously always a good idea but that aside, how likely is it, that mirroring this data is actually necessary? There are obviously at least some people believing that it is necessary but then there are always people convinced that the most silly things are necessary. I am really unable to tell whether this is more of an overreaction or an urgent necessity, especially as someone not living in the US. Is the future just [perceived as] so unpredictable, that better safe than sorry is the right mindset?


Well the EPA had been asked by Trump's transition team to provide a list of employees who have attended conferences about climate change. See NPR story: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/09/505041927/...

They have also removed all mentions of climate change from the white House website and we now many Republicans don't believe in man made climate change. So I think this is an entirely reasonable fear. We are talking about a administration that thinks that getting coal out of the ground like it's 1910 is the future...


> They have also removed all mentions of climate change from the white House website

They replaced the old website with a new website. The old website is stored in: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/ This is usual. Obama toke the same measure. Here is the Bush website if you like it: https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/

With the change, Trump (technical staff) removed many subject they disagree, and many subjects they agree with. If Obama had a page about how great are ginger hair people, it would have disappeared too.


Yes, they disagree with climate change which isn't even a debate in any other country. That's how insane things have gotten.


Why was this comment by ajmurmann flagged? Up to now that seems the best evidence provided for answering my question even though I think it is relatively weak evidence and it lacks a source for the second paragraph.

Well the EPA had been asked by Trump's transition team to provide a list of employees who have attended conferences about climate change. See NPR story: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/09/505041927/....

They have also removed all mentions of climate change from the white House website and we now many Republicans don't believe in man made climate change. So I think this is an entirely reasonable fear. We are talking about a administration that thinks that getting coal out of the ground like it's 1910 is the future...


I didn't flag it, but I would guess that this is part of the reason:

"They have also removed all mentions of climate change from the white House website "

As gus_massa points out above, the entire Obama White House website (not just the pages dealing with climate change) has been transferred to the National Archives (not "removed") and has been replaced with a completely new site.

While the web is still new enough that it's hard to argue tradition, Obama did the same thing to Bush II's site, and Bush II did the same thing to Clinton's site (Clinton was the first, so there's no data before that).


It seems to me more like a technical detail whether you are no longer mentioning a topic because you removed it from the previous website or whether you replaced the whole website. In the end the topic is gone in both cases. You can admittedly draw somewhat different conclusions in both cases, in the former case they wanted to see the topic gone, in the later case they may just have forgotten to include the topic.

Anyway flagging the comment seems a needless harsh reaction, reply with a comment pointing out the facts or maybe downvote it if you really believe the comment was made in bad faith.


"In the end the topic is gone in both cases."

No, it isn't. It went to the National Archives, where it is still available in its original form.

The same thing happened and/or will happen with all the other records of the Obama presidency.


I didn't mean gone in that sense, I meant gone from the list of topics on the White House website, gone from the list of topics the government wants to be associated with if you want.


If you use the Wayback Machine you should be able to verify that the Obama website didn't have a page on climate (or on lgbt, for that matter) when he first took office - it took years to put one there.

Administrations tend to put up a page at whitehouse.com on issue X when they want to trumpet or otherwise refer to what the administration has DONE about issue X. Since Trump just got elected, he hasn't done anything noteworthy on climate, so there's no page describing what he's done - speeches he's given, bills he's signed, etcetera. Since there's no such page, there's no such topic. Simple as that.

The topics there now seems to be cut-and-paste from his campaign site; it's essentially a placeholder to be filled out later.


"Lessons learned under former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Conservative who was accused of muzzling scientists during his term, initially energized a "race" to save the U.S. government's climate data. Activists also studied policy papers by members of Trump's transition team to get a sense of what might be at risk.

But what they have witnessed so far has been "unprecedented," Murphy said, and "much more intense and publicly celebrated" than the precedent set in Canada.

"The transition team and Trump administration are very upfront and promoting of this plan; it's not that this is surreptitious," Murphy said."

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/01/trump-officials-suspe...


If you only create redundancy when you are sure it's necessary, you're too late.


Of course and I think having those mirrors is a good thing, stuff disappears from the internet all the time. But that is not the question I am asking. We could have started mirroring climate data and all kinds of other data last year or five years ago, there is always a risk of losing data.

But this has obviously been triggered by the Trump presidency and is focused on climate data which implies that people are now more concerned than before and especially about one specific kind of data. Now I would like to know whether or not this elevated level of concern is justified.


Probably not a realistic concern.

But.

Lots of things seem to be in motion now that many people said could never possibly happen. An actual executive order on building a wall on the US/Mexico border. Government agencies unconventionally being silenced -- even if a presidential gag order on government agencies makes sense and should be allowed in certain conditions, these present conditions are nothing if not hostile.

So it seems like this administration is proving that it doesn't care about convention, or if it comes off as aggressive and hostile towards the ideals it objects to.

So... still probably not a justified fear, but we're closer to a reality where it is justifiable than we ever thought possible.


The Harper government in Canada literally threw out decades worth of relevant data and historical records, removed websites, etc with little or no notice and (apparently) planning.

(e.g. http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/vanishing-canada-why-were...) Not a great link but gives an overview.

These things can happen - trusting individual federal governments to maintain sane policies towards national data handling is unfortunately a poor bet.


The Trump administration has stated that all future EPA studies and communications will be subject to political examination before release. It isn't a huge leap to imagine that they might do this retroactively.


  I would like to know whether or not this elevated level of concern is justified. 
Given that we live in a new world of 'alternative facts' (Orwell would love that one) I think yes! Your concerns are very justified.

Thank you for the efforts. I do think it's important.


The specific problem is difficult to quantify: he's clearly anti-science and a loose cannon, and he's in control. Where a normal handover may include a brief news blackout during transition, this is all a bit Arbitrary Diktats Of Dear Leader and people are jumpy as heck.

Data resilience in the case of a rogue executive is an unusual thing to come across, but it can't be unique. Executives change, and organization data needs to persist beyond the current board.


Ancient sysadmin cannot upvote this enough.


Think of it this way: servers cost money, bandwidth power costs money.

When your budget is cut, servers will shut down at some point in the future. It isn't a "the gov says rm -rf everything"


I totally see how data could become unavailable, I am more asking whether it just really became more likely to happen. It is certainly no mistake not to rely on single sources, but if that is the motivation, then there is nothing special about now and climate data and mirroring all kinds of data would have been as good an idea a decade ago as now.


Besides redundancy, mirroring also helps spread the cost around. These groups tend to have pretty tight budgets.


Lots of copies keeps stuff safe.


This isn't about necessity. This is about sending a message.

Message to Scientists - we value your work

Message to the World - we are not all bad

Message to future generations - we are not hopeless

Message to Trump - good day sir


I'd like to discuss a slightly different issue here.

Aren't there already a plethora of peer-reviewed journal articles on the issue of climate change? Why is it still necessary to store the presumably raw data?

Even my high school geography notes have an abundance of information on the issue of climate change (for and against). So I doubt if this is necessary at all.


If some large number of those peer-reviewed journal articles' conclusions are (or appear to be) undermined by future discoveries having the raw data to confirm or refute such a development taking into consideration assumptions about the data that might have since changed or been proven incorrect seems like a pretty important thing.

What is in your high school geography notes was dictated in part by political decisions about school curriculum - you cannot assume that the future of even high school geography notes will match your experience.


That is a bit like asking what you need source code for after having compiled the binary program.

Just like you have new versions of a program building on changes to source code, you can run newer and improved analysis on the scientific data (whether to see if you get the same result, a new additional insight or whatever).

Journal papers are often no better than having the binary (or perhaps more accurately the stdout dump of running the binary...)


Ah. Never thought of it that way, makes perfect sense. Thanks for the analogy.


Why would you not? With storage costs being as minimal as they are I can't see a good argument not to store data that's under threat of deletion.


A contrived analogy for this might be something like "Why wouldn't you delete the data once you've rendered a graph of it in PNG?". Data is always important. Just as much so as it's original interpretation and constraints.


For [climate] models for example.


I'm sincerely dismayed that this is necessary.


The most worrying part is that this is a symptom of a much bigger problem. This is likely going to be one of the less egregious issues raised in the next 4 years.


This is a great example of how fear of something possibly happening, gives a larger audience the illusion that it will happen.

Literally no one in the administration has even suggested, ever, that they'd delete climate data.


It's not.


Not yet.


Not ever. There's no plausible scenario that I can see under which this data might be irrecoverably lost.


Feels like the most important things people with some spare cash can do to help this project is help them raise money to host the mirrored climate science data on online.net: https://www.generosity.com/volunteer-fundraising/climate-mir...


I heard that Trump has given NOAA 100 days to justify their existence, or face heavy cuts. Does anyone know the details?

Here is the closest article I could find: http://www.salon.com/2016/11/23/politicizing-climate-change-...


Why shouldn't government agencies have to justify their budgets and operations periodically?


How about when they submit a budget, rather than as a focused witch hunt?

Of course, its not like this political atmosphere would listen to any budget justifications. It's all theater now, it doesn't matter what actual justifications there are, what actual facts there are, or what things actually look like when you spend the time to dive into them. What matters these days is a small number of opinion-makers feel in their hearts, and what they tell their followers to feel with quick one-sentence justifications.


They should, so why not send out a blanket order for all agencies to do this? Why target only a few specific departments for justification and gag orders?


It's called a budget review. It's Congress's job to do this, not the Administration. And it seems like a total waste of time compared to all of the other more important issues the Administration should be covering, IMO.


How about that almost every weather service in the US depends on their existence?


Exactly. The thing that everyone is shitting their pants over is a nothingburger. NOAA once had a verifiable mission. The problem with government agencies is mission creep--they all got on the "climate change" bandwagon because that's where the bucks were. That is now over.


The NOAA's original mission:

> We face immediate and compelling needs for better protection of life and property from natural hazards, and for a better understanding of the total environment-an understanding which will enable us more effectively to monitor and predict its actions, and ultimately, perhaps to exercise some degree of control over them.

> [...]

> I expect it to maintain continuing and close liaison with the new Environmental Protection Agency and the Council on Environmental Quality as part of an effort to ensure that environmental questions are dealt with in their totality and that they benefit from the full range of the government's technical and human resources.

- http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=2575&

This clearly covers climate change, there's no mission creep.


I don't think that sentence means what you think it means.

When we get rid of NOAA you can forget about Hurricane warnings... and since they are probably "alternative facts" you can let people die... or alternatively they "go to heaven". How about, you can't have good predictive models of future events, if you don't know how to model or you don't use the "big data" of past events.

Oh, but the "big bucks" are in climate change? That must be what they do in Silicon Valley and Manhattan? /snark>


The NOAA budget (http://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/nbo/fy16_bluebook/FY20...) is 6 billion, a pittance compared to any number of govt expenditures - say, $1.508 trillion for the lifetime cost of the F-35.

The "real money", is in the SSI, benefits, health and human services. If Trump attacks those programs with the same enthusiasm as the (foolishly) politicized environmental ones, that will be interesting.


This is true, but I don't love these arguments. When Trump tries to cut the National Endowment for the Arts, the argument should not be "$150 million is nothing", it should be that the NEA does important useful work and deserves to be funded. If it were a truly useless organization, it should be cut regardless of how tiny it is compared to the full budget.

Obviously it's annoying when Trump saves 500 jobs or shaves $100 million off the budget and celebrates like he's just saved the economy, but honestly I'd much rather have him do that than try to make a tremendous deal to privatize social security or something.


>they all got on the "climate change" bandwagon because that's where the bucks were

How many "bucks" do you think that "climate change" gets vs. other possible science??


Citation needed.


It seems like Trump has been doing similar to quite a few federal agencies. I'm concerned with some of the early moves, but it's going to be interesting, I do hope that some common sense prevails. For example, bowing out of TPP isn't so bad.


Bowing out of the TPP has been hilarious for me to watch. 6 months ago if Obama had done it he would have been praised on nerd sites. But he didn't and Trump did so now it's an awful idea. It's right up there with my fellow nerds demanding H1B visa reform, Net Neutrality, and subsidizing clean energy while also demanding free markets. I just hear Fezzik going "I don't think that means what you think it means..."

* note - i support bailing on TPP, H1B visa reform, and subsidizing clean energy


"Walker has hinted that what NASA loses in earth science research could be shifted over to NOAA."


This gets thrown around a lot, but has two major problems. First, it's unlikely that comparable funding will also be transferred from NASA to NOAA. E.g. NASA will be told to stop earth science research and have it's budget cut appropriately. NOAA will be told to start earth science research, but without the requisite budget increase. So effectively, it kills earth science under the guise of "moving" it.

Second, NOAA is not operationally or logistically equipped to handle the level of earth science that NASA is performing. NOAA manages a few weather satellites, but has nowhere near the infrastructure that NASA has, and requires, to manage the existing earth science research. Even if you gave NOAA the appropriate money, they don't have the infra or engineers to keep everything flying.

Planetary Radio did a great episode on this topic, but I'm struggling to find it right now.


> We are working to set up a secure and completely anonymous file deposit system for the future.

Provide a mailing address to which to send hard drives.


Good idea, I posted it to their web form.


Awesome. Is there the same thing but for all public datasets? I saw recently someone showed a federal site had put up a (hastily hacked in) link to download all data on the day of the inauguration. I bet there are a lot of federal employees who would like a well-resourced site to upload to.


Is this project collaborating with Archive Team? They have quite a lot of experience with this sort of scraping+archiving project (e.g. Geocities, Google Reader, Coursera, etc.).

http://archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Main_Page


It's great to see their efforts. What are you doing? What am I doing? Reading about it isn't nearly enough.


It would be a good use of IPFS to mirror this data into that network.


This would be perfect for IPFS I think.


As much as I maintain a skeptical attitude to all sides of this scientific (and political) issue, I absolutely support the effort to keep the data available to the public. Science cannot move forward without the data (and metadata) available for everyone. Even more generally, society would suffer if it is not available.

(When I say "metadata", I refer to the data sources, methods of the data acquisition and so on. When a scientific field is politicised it is not only hard to trust the models but even the data, so I think the metadata are very important, if they are available.)


Alternative facts will push us to find a way to discontinue them.

What is left to do to have truly open computation? * somewhat-to completely free computational power?: CircleCI, Travis CI, whatever * open source repositories to run code from?: Github hooks and others * trusting trust? * open hardware? * decentralized websites?


Might be a use case for https://datproject.org.


Or git-annex / git LFS.


Is there a publicly-available blockchain specifically for checksums of journalism and research?


Slightly off-topic, but my guess is that the next 4 years will be the golden age of privacy (in general), file-sharing and maybe even distributed web & federated services - for the US at least.


Do you mean the golden age of private infrastructure, or the golden age of folks combatting a non-private infrastructure? Because from my point of view, privacy in the US is only going to continue to get worse (and that's not even necessarily a dig at the current administration).


What I mean is (I guess) people will be seriously considering their privacy - especially online/digital one.


Yup. I already formatted/reinstalled everything.. beefed up the encryption usage.. pretty much changed to a whitelist of domains on my tomato router and got me some OTP/U2F devices.. need to switch to Tor for browsing though.. and what else would people recommend?


It's plausible. My sincere, dark hope is that a Trump administration will shock everyone awake in a big way to why broad surveillance is a terrible idea.

Unfortunately it will probably take a huge scandal that baldly and stupidly shows how unchecked those powers are and what can be possible with them. I think Trump is capable of that kind of misstep. Like say SNL writers were PMing each other a tasteless joke about assassinating Trump and the president tweets about it and orders their arrest.

In the end, something dramatic like that could actually have a really positive effect on the consciousness of the public. It could also have a really negative effect where people accept the new normal. It's hard to know.


So now we have complete polarisation.

Left leaning people will not accept any science generated under a Right leaning government

and as we already know Right leaning people find it hard to trust the science coming from a Left leaning government.


Eh, no. This isn't about not accepting scientific output under a Republican president – science was well received under Bush, as I recall, and will continue to be under Trump.

This is about the fear of losing scientific data that has already been produced.


On the surface it is about preventing deletion.

But the subtext is that any 'discoveries' or 'corrections' will be rejected out of hand.

The prime ones being the recent corrections to the land temperature record that cooled the 1930s and 1940s and heated 2009 onwards yielding a steady linear increase graphic.

When those corrections are placed under the microscope and likely reversed, what will the reaction be ? Scientific shills of the Republicans are making up Alternative Facts... here is our precious archived dataset that true believers can reference.


No, this is complete FUD, and disingenuous at best. What people who care are worried about is a repeat of what happened in Canada under the Harper government where the data was simply not available at all.

[edit] the difference is that it's not the administration or even the EPA that is putting it's reputation on the line if the data was manipulated, but the individual scientists themselves. No one with any sense believes that a scientist is going to fall on their sword and ruin their career just to make up some BS talking point that Trump can run with.


Although NoScript and uBlock Origin show nothing being blocked, I still end up with a blank page when trying to view this site. Maybe it's a Pale Moon thing.


Me too


While I appreciate the sentiment, I think this whole notion of an AntiScience threat due to the new administration is a bit sensationalized.


Surprised there's no comment here regarding the claim that using Dropbox is anonymous...




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