White House Unveils New Climate Data Project

President Obama's June 2013 climate address.Prensa Internacional/ZUMA

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The story was originally published by The Huffington Post and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The White House today unveiled a new Climate Data Initiative to make government-held data more available to researchers and businesses, and improve climate change preparedness across the country.

President Barack Obama had already mentioned the data initiative in a list of new programs announced in his big climate speech at Georgetown University last June. Today was its official unveiling.

One part of the data initiative is a new climate-focused section within the Data.gov website—called Climate.Data.gov—which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will run. The climate data site will also offer infrastructure and geographic mapping data sets—showing bridges, roads, canals, etc.—from such agencies as the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Homeland Security.

To solicit ideas from the private sector on how to use all this data to create images and simulations showing coastal hazards, NOAA and NASA are launching a Coastal Flooding Challenge.

Making more of this type of information publicly available, the Obama administration announced, will “stimulate innovation and private-sector entrepreneurship in support of national climate-change preparedness.”

According to the announcement, several companies—including Intel, Google, Microsoft and Esri (which creates geographic information systems software)—have committed to create new mapping software, applications and other technological tools for visualizing and preparing for climate-related risks. Nonprofits, academic institutions and local groups are also providing technological support.

In a White House blog post accompanying the announcement, chief presidential science adviser John Holdren and White House senior counselor John Podesta called the initiative an “ambitious” effort to make government data available to the private and philanthropic sectors.

The Climate Data Initiative, they wrote, “will help create easy-to-use tools for regional planners, farmers, hospitals, and businesses across the country—and empower America’s communities to prepare themselves for the future.”

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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