In an article titled “Forbidden Data: Wyoming Just Criminalized Citizen Science,” Justin Pidot (Slate; and Asst. Prof. at Denver Sturm College of Law) has underscored the power of representations of landscape in terms of environmental power and policy: as of now, a citizen can face up to one year in prison for taking a photo that contains data about the state of the environment if said data is subsequently shared with the state or federal government, such as for example the National Weather Service’s photo competition. Pidot explains: “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.” The origins, argues Pidot, are political: the level of E. coli is due to cows grazing on public lands too close to streams and rivers—and Wyoming ranchers clearly don’t want such practices inquired into or legislated on. Idaho and Utah apparently have similarly laws. Wyoming’s new law is frighteningly broad: “It makes it a crime to “collect resource data” from any “open land,” meaning any land outside of a city or town, whether it’s federal, state, or privately owned. The statute defines the word collect as any method to “preserve information in any form,” including taking a “photograph” so long as the person gathering that information intends to submit it to a federal or state agency.” The announcement harkens back to at least two papers at the Approaching the Anthropocene conference at UCSB: Daniel Grinberg’s thoughts on PPGIS, Erin E. Wiegrand’s work on visualizing factory farming, the Public Lab balloon project, etc. How we represent, and who has the right (or not) to represent, landscapes are essential questions.
Project THE HUMANIST anthropocene
is a thought archive and workspace of Phillip John Usher (NYU) at the crossroads of early modern humanism and the problems and insights of the Anthropocene. Main Research Page.
ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment)
Environmental Humanities (journal)
Resilience (A Journal of the Environmental Humanities)
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