Open Climate Now! | Branch magazine issue #2, June 2021

“Two global movements—open and climate—both reckoning with privilege and power in their own organizing, should seize the moment to work more intersectionally and learn from each other. The open movement with its values, community and action has the potential to greatly contribute to climate research and activism, and climate scientists and organizers should join the fight for the (digital) commons.  …

A scan of the open movement—which comprises networks, projects, and organizations that advocate for the creation, curation, and sharing of the knowledge commons through the use of open licenses—shows very limited collaboration between both communities. These movements share similar values and their activists envision similar horizons of human and planetary well-being, yet actions are being organized and conducted separately. We must now reflect: how will future generations of open activists use the digital commons to grapple with climate change, one of the greatest challenges of humanity?…”

Authors: Shannon Dosemagen, Evelin Heidel, Luis Felipe R. Murillo, Emilio Velis, Alex Stinson and Michelle Thorne

Branch magazine funded in part by EIT Climate KIC

Open Environmental Data Project

“We partner and collaborate with institutes, nonprofits, individuals and universities to help articulate best practices for new data commons models in the environmental context….

We provide insight that identifies, evaluates and summarizes scientific, legal, economic and cultural incentive and strategy levers for advancing environmental generative actions….”

Director of Policy Initiatives

“OEDP seeks a bold and strategic Director of Policy Initiatives to lead the work of identifying opportunities and possibilities for creating an inclusive environmental data ecosystem. The Director of Policy Initiative’s primary responsibilities will be to develop policy recommendations related to the inclusion of environmental data at all levels of government; interact with and comment on projects and policy as they relate to environmental and climate data and governance; and lead initiatives related to environmental and scientific policy (for instance: SIDE environmental events and Civic Voice). Strong candidates will have a deep understanding of environment and science policy, demonstrated research and analysis skills, and experience working on federal and/or state environmental policy or politics. The ideal person for this position is enthusiastic about sharing ideas, building community (with grassroots efforts, government, and academics), and creating networks….”

Communication and Content Manager

“The Open Environmental Data Project (OEDP) seeks a dynamic communications professional who will energetically develop and implement our communication and brand awareness strategies around the conjoining topics of environment, science, and open data. This position reports to the OEDP Director and is required to see the big picture of our work, while also being responsive to emerging information and topics across the landscape of environmental data. The goal of this position is to increase our visibility and develop communities around our programs through online communication (SEO, website, social media, etc.), public relations and brand strategy. OEDP is a young organization and we are looking for someone who is excited about the opportunity to grow as a member of our team, thinking creatively and strategically about the goals of our work….”

Open science, the replication crisis, and environmental public health: Accountability in Research: Vol 0, No ja

Abstract:  Concerns about a crisis of mass irreplicability across scientific fields (“the replication crisis”) have stimulated a movement for open science, encouraging or even requiring researchers to publish their raw data and analysis code. Recently, a rule at the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) would have imposed a strong open data requirement. The rule prompted significant public discussion about whether open science practices are appropriate for fields of environmental public health. The aims of this paper are to assess (1) whether the replication crisis extends to fields of environmental public health; and (2) in general whether open science requirements can address the replication crisis. There is little empirical evidence for or against mass irreplicability in environmental public health specifically. Without such evidence, strong claims about whether the replication crisis extends to environmental public health — or not — seem premature. By distinguishing three concepts — reproducibility, replicability, and robustness — it is clear that open data initiatives can promote reproducibility and robustness but do little to promote replicability. I conclude by reviewing some of the other benefits of open science, and offer some suggestions for funding streams to mitigate the costs of adoption of open science practices in environmental public health.

 

The need for free and open data in Earth observation activities – SpaceNews

“The evolving quality and quantity of Earth observation data enables an ever-increasingly profound knowledge of the climate crisis, enhancing the efficacy of mitigation strategies as well as the management of risk and natural or human-made disasters. Access to satellite imagery offers a unique and game-changing advantage compared to data collected in situ: the capacity to build data sets with decades worth of observations while providing constant, up-to-date, and reliable information.

The environmental emergency, while having severe global effects, will not affect all states equally. Poorer, less developed countries are expected to face severe challenges directly related to climate change, and will experience the large majority of climate-induced human mobility, be it internally displaced people or climate migrants. Open Data policies promoting free and open access to Earth observation data and information are an important tool to guarantee access to satellite imagery to those states which do not yet possess the capabilities for independent access to space. This is especially true for data related to the causes and effects of climate emergencies, such as the Essential Climate Variables identified by the Global Climate Observing System. Open Data principles not only greatly enhance the mitigation strategies of less-developed countries, but would significantly further their risk and disaster management….”

genomeRxiv: a microbial whole-genome database for classification, identification, and data sharing

“genomeRxiv is a newly-funded US-UK collaboration to provide a public, web-accessible database of public genome sequences, accurately catalogued and classified by whole-genome similarity independent of their taxonomic affiliation. Our goal is to supply the basic and applied research community with rapid, precise and accurate identification of unknown isolates based on genome sequence alone, and with molecular tools for environmental analysis….”

Talking Stories: Encyclopedia of Traditional Ecological Knowledge

“Talking Stories is an open educational resource dedicated to raising awareness of hunter-gatherer literary traditions and ecological knowledge, and encouraging their incorporation into Western teaching. To this end, it aggregates stories from diverse foraging peoples across the planet, explicates the ecological knowledge encoded in these stories, and guides users to additional resources. It is intended for use by educators seeking to integrate traditional Indigenous literature and natural history into their courses, and by students and researchers interested in the origins of literature, natural history, and cultural transmission….”

Access Denied: Federal Website Governance Under the Trump Administration

“The Trump administration pushed the boundaries of rules, guidelines, and norms in most areas of governance. Manipulating public information was a key tactic, which included dramatic and damaging changes to federal agency websites relating to environmental regulations. These changes led the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) to identify acute gaps in federal website governance and develop recommendations for reforms under the Biden administration and beyond. Websites are the primary means by which federal environmental agencies communicate with the public and serve as resources paid for by American tax dollars to benefit the public. Changes to language, content, or access to federal websites can directly affect public knowledge of and participation in environmental decision-making. While considerable guidance exists for the delivery of federal digital services, there is scant policy focused on the web content provided by federal agencies, and born-digital resources are by and large excluded from record-keeping laws. There are no repercussions, for example, for agencies stripping websites that contain inconvenient factual information for a given political agenda….”

New Report Shows Pattern Under Trump of Federal Agencies Removing Public Information Prior to Environmental Proceedings – Environmental Data and Governance Initiative

“Today, the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) releases Access Denied: Federal Web Governance Under the Trump Administration. The report examines the Trump administration’s management of federal websites related to environmental regulation and makes recommendations for the Biden administration moving forward. Currently, there are few policies governing website content.

Access Denied highlights the need to address these policy gaps. It’s the most comprehensive report yet from EDGI’s website monitoring program, which has monitored federal environmental websites ever since Trump took office in January 2017, documenting more than 1,000 changes.

Websites are how federal agencies communicate with the public, and changes to them can impact public participation in environmental regulatory processes. The information that’s available—or unavailable—on federal websites matters for the health of democracy and the environment….”

Trump EPA’s Fast Track for ‘Secret Science’ Rule Nixed (1)

“The Trump administration’s EPA broke the law when it finalized a “science transparency” rule and made it effective immediately, a federal court ruled Wednesday in a decision that could help the Biden administration scrap the rule.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Montana said the Environmental Protection Agency failed to justify its decision to make the controversial rule take effect right after its publication in the Federal Register, instead of after 30 days, as is typical….”

Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA’s ‘secret science’ rule | TheHill

“A federal judge in Montana late Wednesday ruled against the Trump administration’s attempt to fast-track a controversial rule about how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers scientific evidence, endangering its future under the Biden administration. 

The Trump EPA had characterized the rule, which would restrict the use of studies that don’t make their underlying data publicly available, as procedural, allowing it to go into effect immediately.

Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, disagreed, determining that the rule was substantive and ordering that it can’t go into effect until Feb. 5.

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Delaying the rule could jeopardize it, as it would now be subject to a new White House memo that freezes pending regulations for 60 days….”

Center for Advancement and Synthesis of Open Environmental Data and Sciences (nsf21549) | NSF – National Science Foundation

“NSF seeks to establish a Center fueled by open and freely available biological and other environmental data to catalyze novel scientific questions in environmental biology through the use of data-intensive approaches, team science and research networks, and training in the accession, management, analysis, visualization, and synthesis of large data sets. The Center will provide vision for speeding discovery through the increased use of large, publicly accessible datasets to address biological research questions through collaborations with scientists in other related disciplines. The Center will be an exemplar in open science and team science, fostering development of generalizable cyberinfrastructure solutions and community-driven standards for software, data, and metadata that support open and team science, and role-modeling best practices. Open biological and other environmental data are produced by NSF investments in research and infrastructure such as the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs), Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio), and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), as well as by many other public and private initiatives in the U.S. and worldwide. These efforts afford opportunities for collaborative investigation into, and predictive understanding of life on Earth to a far greater degree than ever before. The Center will help develop the teams, concepts, resources, and expertise to enable inclusive, effective, and coordinated efforts to answer the broad scientific questions for which these open data were designed, as well as key questions that emerge at interfaces between biology, informatics, and a breadth of environmental sciences. It will engage scientists diverse in their demography, disciplinary expertise, and geography, and in the institutions that they represent in collaborative, cross-disciplinary, and synthetic studies. It is expected that this new Center will build on decades of experience from NSF’s prior investments in other synthesis centers, while providing visionary leadership and advancement for data-intensive team science in a highly connected and increasingly virtual world. It will serve as an incubator for team-based, data-driven, and open research that includes cyberinfrastructure, tools, services, and application development and innovative and inclusive training programs. The Center is also expected to spur collaborative interactions among the facilities and initiatives that produce open biological and other environmental data, and cyberinfrastructure efforts that support the curation and use of those data, such as Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office (BCO-DMO), CyVerse, Environmental Data Initiative (EDI), DataOne, EarthCube, and Cyberinfrastructure (CI) Centers for Excellence, to address compelling research questions and to enable training and data product and tool development. The new Center will further enable data-driven discovery through immersive education and training experiences to provide the advanced skills needed to maximize the scientific potential of large volumes of available open data.”

Environmental groups sue in bid to block EPA ‘secret science’ rule  | TheHill

“Green groups on Monday filed a lawsuit in an attempt to prevent a new rule limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) use of certain studies from taking effect.

The lawsuit takes aim at the EPA’s Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule, also known as the “secret science” rule, which restricts the use of studies that don’t make their underlying data public. 

The agency has billed the rule as a transparency measure, though its opponents argue that it will prevent consideration of important public health studies that can’t publish their data for reasons such as privacy. …”

EPA finalizes scientific transparency rule limiting which studies can be used to protect public health – The Washington Post

“The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a rule to limit what research it can use to craft public health protections, a move opponents argue is aimed at crippling the agency’s ability to more aggressively regulate the nation’s air and water.

 

The “Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information” rule, which the administration began pursuing early in President Trump’s term, would require researchers to disclose the raw data involved in their public health studies before the agency could rely upon their conclusions. It will apply this new set of standards to “dose-response studies,” which evaluate how much a person’s exposure to a substance increases the risk of harm….”