Daily Archives: May 12, 2015

Did Wyoming really just outlaw citizen science? | Southern Fried Science

amy-fAmy Freitag

I first heard about the new Wyoming law #SF0012 through the Slate article summarizing it as a criminalization of citizen science. There’s a real danger that it could be interpreted and implemented that way, but let’s try and give Wyoming the benefit of the doubt for a minute. The text of the law only requires that scientists (citizen or otherwise) acquire written or verbal permission from landowners for collecting data on their land. It goes on to define what “data” means, including photographs in a fairly wide definition, and “collecting” as taking data with the intention of turning it over to a state or federal agency. It also defines trespassing and outlines the consequences for those who fail to receive permission. In short: the data collector could go to jail and their data will not be admissible in legal or policy proceedings.

At the core, the law re-hashes a fairly common definition of trespassing. The key part of the law that’s new is that the data won’t be admissible in court and the act of turning them over to federal or state agencies will make you an outlaw. Part of me thinks that data collectors, including citizen science groups, should be asking permission to go on someone’s land. This is both to keep ethics at the forefront of our scientific endeavors and for the personal safety of scientists (ranchers are known to carry shotguns, after all).

The other part of me, however, puts the law in the full context of which it was written: as a means of enabling ranchers to not fence their cows out of streams and never have watchdogs checking on the E.coli public health impacts of those cattle swimming in downstream residents’ drinking water. In these cases, offending ranchers would never let a scientist on their property to take water samples, and a trespassing hiker might be the best way to collect data on water quality in a privately-held landscape. In this case, the offenses of the trespassing should certainly not negate the evidence of another crime. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

…(read more).

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Wyoming law against data collection: Protecting ranchers by ignoring the environment.

Wyoming just criminalized citizen science. By Justin Pidot Imagine visiting Yellowstone this summer. You wake up before dawn to take a picture of the sunrise over the mists emanating from Yellowstone hot springs. A thunderhead towers above the rising sun, and the picture turns out beautifully. You submit the photo to a contest sponsored by the National Weather Service. Under a statute signed into law by the Wyoming governor this spring, you have just committed a crime and could face up to one year in prison.

Wyoming doesn’t, of course, care about pictures of geysers or photo competitions. But photos are a type of data, and the new law makes it a crime to gather data about the condition of the environment across most of the state if you plan to share that data with the state or federal government.

The reason? The state wants to conceal the fact that many of its streams are contaminated by E. coli bacteria, strains of which can cause serious health problems, even death. A small organization called Western Watersheds Project (which I represent pro bono in an unrelated lawsuit) has found the bacteria in a number of streams crossing federal land in concentrations that violate water quality standards under the federal Clean Water Act. Rather than engaging in an honest public debate about the cause or extent of the problem, Wyoming prefers to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. And under the new law, the state threatens anyone who would challenge that belief by producing information to the contrary with a term in jail.

If you discover an environmental disaster in Wyoming, you’re obliged, according to this law, to keep it to yourself.

…(read more).

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Students’ Thoughts on Divest Harvard Protests


TheHarvardCrimson

Published on Apr 15, 2015

Students’ Thoughts on Divest Harvard Protests

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Divest Harvard Continues Protests on Thursday


TheHarvardCrimson

Published on Apr 16, 2015

Demonstrators says they will continue the protest until Friday.

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Divest ‘Heat Week’ Friday Recap


TheHarvardCrimson

Published on Apr 18, 2015

A recap of the events of Divest ‘Heat Week’ on Friday, April 17.

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Divest ‘Heat Week’ Monday Recap


TheHarvardCrimson

Published on Apr 14, 2015

A recap of the events of Divest ‘Heat Week’ on Monday, April 13th.

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Global Land Forum 2015 – Land governance for inclusive development,justice and sustainability: time for action

http://www.globallandforum.org/

The Global Land Forum is a unique event that brings together over 500 grassroots organisations, activists, local and international NGOs, researchers, multilateral organisations and government agencies from around the world.

The Forum is action-oriented. The programme is structured to provide opportunities to participants who may not commonly interact to debate, exchange, learn from each other’s experiences and successes, strategize, and build linkages. High-level plenary keynote presentations from different perspectives will provide a context for a wide diversity of sessions organised by participants according to their interests. There will be a strong focus on sharing best practices towards people-centred land governance, and on identifying opportunities for engagement and collaboration.

…(read more).

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2015 Global Land Forum – Event Promo


LandCoalition

Published on Mar 9, 2015

Join us in Dakar!
12-16 May, 2015
More info: www.globallandforum.org

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