As part of Preservation Week programming, the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. (A.R.T.) and the Archives and Public History Program at New York University are co-sponsoring an event  to discuss how archival repositories can be pro-active in the fight against climate change, collections useful to climate change research, and successful sustainability efforts/resiliency measures.

The event “I’m Not A Scientist”: The Role and Responsibility of Archivists Towards Climate Change takes place on Friday, April 29, 2016 from 6 to 8pm at New York University’s Kimmel Center, Room 912. If you’re in NYC this Friday, register for the event to join the conversation.

For more information, visit the event page.

Hope to see you there!

ProjectARCC welcomes Linda Tadic, CEO of Digital Bedrock, on our first anniversary. A year ago today a group of archivists came together to discuss our profession’s future and the Earth’s future. Happy anniversary and happy Earth Day!

At the Paris Climate Change talks (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries signed a non-binding agreement to lower their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2100. While the world celebrated the unanimous vote, and there is no denying the importance the conference had in raising the profile of climate change, it is clear that the agreement didn’t go far enough.

COP21’s goal: Get countries to promise to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) so the global temperature won’t rise above 2° C (3.6° F) by 2100. That temperature increase is scientifically accepted as the threshold for catastrophic climate change. Prior to the conference, countries submitted the GHG emission levels they believed they could achieve (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs). However, the INDCs are disappointing and outright deadly: if countries only achieve what they propose, the global temperature will rise 3.5° C (6.3° F) by 2100. A critical part of the agreement states that countries will aim to lower their GHG emissions lower than their INDC, but those are just words with no actionable steps behind them.

A minimum of 55 countries must sign the agreement on Earth Day 2016 for the agreement to become binding, and there is no guarantee the minimum signatures will be achieved. The US Supreme Court recently voted to put a stay on President Obama’s regulation of coal plants pending the results of a lower court ruling, which puts the US involvement in COP21 at risk. This decision caused large GHG emitting countries such as China and India to doubt the US seriousness to the Paris agreement; they had agreed to sign only if the US showed serious efforts.

Climate change is too serious an issue to be left to national governments to solve alone. Where positive change is occurring is with more nimble entities: local governments (states/provinces, cities), industry, individuals, and investors. Investors are increasingly not investing in oil and coal, but in renewable energy since that’s the future in this New Climate Economy. Aviation, transportation, and ICT industries are enacting technological efficiencies to decrease their industries’ GHG emissions.

Archives intersect with ICT through our use of hardware and energy. Our hardware and network choices in how we store and manage digital content, the energy devices used, and our digital preservation actions impact the environment.

In 2015, I gave a series of presentations on the environmental impact of digital preservation at conferences for SEAPAVAA (Singapore), IASA (Paris), and AMIA (Portland, Oregon). The slides and background research and notes are available for download at the Digital Bedrock website. The documents will be updated from time to time with the recent version date noted.

What we do as individuals and archival custodians can impact the wider world. In a talk at UCLA on January 12, 2016, Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and the UN Envoy for Climate Change, referred to “climate justice,” eg, climate change + social injustice. Fighting climate change is a personal, political, and social battle that must be fought on all fronts at our disposal, including the choices we make with our technology and preserving our collections.

— Linda Tadic

Questions? Comments? Email: ltadic@digitalbedrock.com

 

 

nea_spring2016On April 2, ProjectARCC was awarded the New England ArchivistsArchival
Advocacy Award for 2016. Each year, NEA grants the Archival Advocacy Award
(AAA) to an individual or institution demonstrating extraordinary support
of New England archival programs and records – politically, financially, or
through public advocacy. The award was presented at the NEA Spring 2016
Meeting awards ceremony in Portland, Maine. Past recipients include Digital
Commonwealth and Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).

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NEA’s former president Jill Snyder presented the award and highlighted ProjectARCC’s work to motivate the archival profession to affect climate change. She mentioned ProjectARCC’s collaborations with the Society of American Archivists’ Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy (CAPP), the American Library Association’s Sustainability Roundtable, and DearTomorrow.

Casey Davis accepted the award on behalf of ProjectARCC and thanked the New England Archivists for awarding ProjectARCC with the Archival Advocacy Award. She noted that just a year ago at NEA’s Spring 2015 meeting in Boston, Casey gave a presentation at REPS’ “Revolt Against Complacency” session, identifying areas in which archivists could make an impact on climate change. Several NEA members immediately responded to the call to action, and on Earth Day 2015 ProjectARCC was formed. Today, ProjectARCC’s membership has grown to more than 60 members across the United States.

Congrats to the entire ProjectARCC community!

Over the past year, ProjectARCC has presented at numerous conferences,
including the Society of American Archivists, the Association of Moving Image
Archivists, and Massachusetts COSTEP. This month, Rose Oliveira and Genna
Duplisea will be presenting at the Keeping History Above Water conference
in Newport, Rhode Island. ProjectARCC has hosted several events this year,
including one at ALA Midwinter in collaboration with ALA’s SutainRT and “On
the Brink,” in collaboration with Simmons College SCoSAA.

Members have contributed numerous blog posts on the ProjectARCC blog, as
well as for the SAA Issues and Advocacy blog  and New England Media and Memory Coalition. ProjectARCC members have been interviewed by Infotecarios, a publication for Latin American information professionals, and Lost in the Stacks, a public radio program. ProjectARCC has also hosted Tweet-ups in collaboration with ALA’s Sustainability Roundtable. ProjectARCC member Eira Tansey recently published a peer-reviewed article on climate change risks and impacts.

During COP21, ProjectARCC members marched with thousands of other activists
at the Boston March for Jobs, Justice and Climate.

ProjectARCC members are making impacts within their own institutions, including
curating exhibits featuring historical materials documenting climate change,
and creating and distributing surveys on sustainability and building
efficiencies.

ProjectARCC committees are continuing to work on specific projects,
including collecting stories from archivists on disaster experiences
(Protect), creating a brochure describing actions that archives can take to
become more sustainable (Reduce), compiling a list of archives that
preserve collections related to climate change (Elevate), and assisting
DearTomorrow in preserving their collection of letters, photos, and videos
to the future (Preserve).

 

And finally, ProjectARCC is collaborating with Library Juice Press on a
colloquium in May 2017 titled “Libraries and Archives in the Anthropocene,” which will take place at New York University. More information to come about this event!

Our thanks to the New England Archivists for awarding ProjectARCC the 2016 Archival Advocacy Award and for their support of our work. Congratulations to everyone involved in ProjectARCC!

 

 

Two weeks ago, ProjectARCC challenged archivists to elevate their collections related to climate change using #PreserveClimate. There’s also a survey archivists can fill out for collections to go into a larger project.

One example of an archive that has recently elevated their materials related to climate change is the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. In late October, the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) launched its Online Reading Room, providing the public with access to thousands of historic public television and radio programming dating back to the 1950s. As part of the inauguration of the Online Reading Room, AAPB staff launched three curated exhibits featuring content that is topically and historically significant. AAPB Project Manager Casey Davis curated one of the three exhibits, the title of which is “Climate Change Conversations: Causes, Impacts, Solutions.

The exhibit highlights television and radio conversations with climate scientists, activists, journalists, historians, and students who used the venue of public broadcasting to discuss climate change for more than a quarter of a century. In these recordings, they have repeatedly communicated the science of human-driven climate change and its impacts in interviews, call-in radio shows, debates, public lectures, news programs, and documentaries.

While scientists and activists have consistently used public broadcasting to disseminate information about climate change, the conversation has changed over time. In the 1980s, focus was primarily on communicating the potential threats of global warming. Since then, programming has increasingly examined the actual impacts, and in addition, struggled to keep the American public informed and engaged.

Organized into six sections, the exhibit highlights public broadcasting recordings of conversations on climate change—its causes, impacts, and proposed solutions—from 1970, the first year that Earth Day was celebrated, to the present. Among the recordings include conversations with Gus Speth, former Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, James Hansen, the first scientist to testify before Congress on the threat of global warming, former Vice President Al Gore, three recordings with Bill McKibben, writer and activist who founded the international organization 350.org, Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist who has become well-known for communicating climate change to fellow evangelical Christians, and David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth.

What’s in your collections?

 

ProjectARCC is challenging archivists from around the world to elevate and broadcast their collections that relate to climate change. Use #preserveclimate to join the conversation and add to the database!

This week, an important and big climate change conference started in Paris, and will continue until December 11th. In the wake of the 13 November terrorism, an already high-profile meeting will take on new meaning. It would not be hyperbolic to say what could come out of the Paris meeting could chart the very path of human existence for our foreseeable future.

This is a brief post that includes some useful links and a very quick primer to help ProjectARCC allies understand the significance of the road ahead. If this primer leaves you wanting more, I highly recommend this short graphic novella of the history of international efforts to manage climate change. A text-based timeline can also be found here.

WHO?

The Paris talks, often referred to in shorthand as COP21 (or the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCC) will be the most recent attempt to bring together the international community to committing to real reductions in carbon emissions that will keep the world as close to not exceeding 2º Celsius of warming as possible. 2º Celsius has been the benchmark target set by the climate change policy community for several years, and exceeding this target will almost certainly cause severe and irreversible changes to the world climate. We have already warmed the planet by 0.8º Celsius since the late 1800s. Because reduction of emissions would have to be so dramatic to bring current projections to 2º or less, many scientists and policy makers are now reckoning with adaptation to a planet that could warm by at least 4º Celsius by 2100, if massive reductions in carbon emissions are not immediately implemented.

WHERE?

Paris, France (specifically, Le Bourget, which is just outside Paris). COP meetings rotate between regions, and France applied for the 2015 Western European hosting turn back in 2012. The actual meeting can only be attended by national delegations of the UNFCC parties, intergovernmental agencies and non-governmental organizations with officially-recognized observer status (e.g., the World Bank), and journalists. However, close to the official meeting location, there will be a venue that will host activities that the general public can attend.

As this blog post goes to press, following the Paris terrorist attacks French authorities are committed to going forward with hosting and security for the official meeting events, but will not allow any public street marches associated with the climate talks. At past climate summits, such as Copenhagen in 2009, public demonstrations served an important role in giving voice to those most vulnerable to climate change’s disasterous effects.

WHEN?

While the meeting will take place over the course of 12 days, there has been significant groundwork laid over the past year. The initial negotiation sessions began in February, in Switzerland. The meeting in Paris will be the final vote to accept the framework to measure progress on each country’s committed reductions.

WHY?

In general, the COP (Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) takes place every year (since 1995). In addition, you may see things like “CMP” when reading about COP — this refers to parties which signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, which was the first time binding greenhouse gas emission targets were set. This year is the 21st conference of COP, and the 11th conference of CMP (i.e., COP21/CMP11). The United States is a party to the UNFCC, but never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, citing concerns over lack of emissions reductions from developing countries. This is why the recent carbon emissions agreement between China and the United States is a huge deal — it represents perhaps a loosening of the “Which country should cut first and faster?” question that has often derailed recent international climate negotiations.

HOW?

The biggest difference with this round of climate talks is the model to which countries are pledging individual emissions reduction targets. Each country has set their own target, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC)– on the plus side, this means countries may be more likely to actually meet reduction goals, something that has been elusive in the past. On the other hand, many experts note that even if all countries meet their own self-defined targets, it will not be enough to collectively stay under the 2º target. The World Resources Institute has developed an interesting visualization tool for the submitted INDCs.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR?

Historically, a stumbling block in climate talks has been tension between reduction expectations of highly developed countries with high emissions (such as the United States) compared to rapidly developing countries (such as China and India). Meanwhile, many Pacific Island nations are literally reckoning with going underwater, possibly in our lifetimes. There will likely be significant discussion over the obligations of developed countries to assist extremely vulnerable and under-resourced countries cope with the effects of climate change.

— Eira Tansey

 

From November 30 to December 11, world leaders and scientists will meet in Paris in the hopes of negotiating an international accord to reduce carbon emissions and respond to the imminent threats of climate change. As we move closer to this United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in the coming week, I believe that we are on the precipice of changing the conversation about climate change. Archivists can play a role in elevating the conversation and increasing climate literacy by using our collections to improve public awareness of climate change through exhibits and social media. We’re making commitments now a future for our planet. As the guardians of cultural heritage, let’s not only work to ensure the preservation of our collections from the impacts of climate change, but let’s take that responsibility further by providing better access and discoverability to our collections that could be used to educate our communities on the urgency for action on climate change.

ProjectARCC would like to challenge archives to use the hashtag #PreserveClimate during COP21, which is taking place from November 30 – December 11, and promote your collections that are relevant to the conversation about climate change.

In addition, we ask that you help us identify archival collections related to climate change by filling out this survey: https://projectarcc.org/elevate/survey-elevate/.

Once we have compiled this survey, we will use the information to create a database and visualizations that identify these collections and where they exist, which can be used as a resource for scholars, researchers, scientists, journalists, and the general public. 

We encourage you to take the challenge and #preserveclimate during COP21. If you’re wondering what types of materials are relevant to the issue of climate change, here are a few suggestions:

  • materials documenting natural disasters
  • dated historic photographs of landscapes and agriculture
  • records of climate change or environmental activist groups
  • scientific data sets for climate change research
  • government records about local, regional, or national response to climate change
  • manuscript collections documenting how people feel or felt about climate change
  • papers of climate scientists
  • recorded lectures, interviews, and debates about climate change

— Casey Davis

Originally posted at Hack Library School’s Hack Your Summer series, in response to the question, Are you doing any internships or volunteer work in libraries this summer? Updates by the author, Amy Wickner. Available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

In addition to summer classes and my regular library job, I just started working with a new group called ProjectARCC, composed of archivists concerned about climate change. Goals for the project include understanding and countering the impact of climate change on archival collections; examining the energy impact and ecological footprint of our work, from facilities to storage to travel; raising awareness about archival collections relevant to climate change; and documenting national, international, and local responses to and impacts of climate change. Read more about the what, why, and how here.

An initial reaction after just several weeks with ProjectARCC: It’s fascinating to consider the range of material that could enrich public understanding of climate change through archival collections. There’s the Old Weather transcription project, working directly with naval weather observations. We may also look to collections like Colorado State University’s Water Resources Archive and the papers and lab notebooks of climate scientists to understand the history of research on climate
change and the organizational and political, uh, climate in which that research emerged. The Elevate committee’s charge is to consider how best to promote and connect this kind of material.

As a former architect and landscape architect, I can’t help seeing design archives as a key part of this initiative as well. How does awareness and understanding of climate change affect how we envision the future built environment? (And, how will future disaster movies envision the devastation of that built environment?) Several members of ProjectARCC are also working directly with climate change awareness groups to provide data management help. Archival material documenting climate change may come from all kinds of sources; which makes sense if we consider how the climate change itself affects all corners of the world.

The project is rolling along, but there are many opportunities to get involved. Start by catching up on the July 8 tweet-up via #preserveclimate.

On a personal note, participating in this kind of work can be tough. It’s entirely on a volunteer basis, and everyone involved is either working or in school full-time. With so many people collaborating for the first time, it takes a lot of cat-herding to keep enthusiasm going and keep the project focused. On the other hand, things can move very quickly in the early stage of a project. I was recently away for six days and it’s taken three more to catch up on ProjectARCC emails — and I’m far from the most involved team member. Doing what we can, without wasting time feeling guilty about not doing more, seems like a sustainable approach to volunteer work. It’s amazing that opportunities like this exist to support personally and professionally meaningful causes; but being responsible enough to both contribute significantly and not let everything else fall by the wayside can be a real challenge.

– Amy Wickner