We can't let the government gag our scientists.
In defiance of President Donald Trump's gag order preventing Environmental Protection Agency organizations from tweeting about climate change, the Badlands National Park Twitter account began doing just that.
Within hours of the bold move, those tweets disappeared. For the rest of the day, the account was eerily silent, leaving people to wonder what befell the courageous social media manager in charge of the park's account.
Thankfully, Twitter users anticipated that the tweets might not survive for long. As soon as the tweets disappeared, a slew of accounts began posting them as screengrabs, proof that they had once existed.
Yesterday, @BadlandsNPS was censored for tweeting about #ClimateChange. RT to keep #Science facts alive.… https://t.co/JKQXws1sqo— Daniel Schneider (@Daniel Schneider) 1485346079.0
With the @BadlandsNPS account quiet, other Twitter accounts picked up where it left off, tweeting out other facts about climate change along with actionable ways to support government-run climate research.
One particularly noteworthy account that has doggedly continued tweeting climate facts is @AltNatParkSer.
There are a few theories as to who is behind the account: It seems most likely to be the same staff who ran the NPS Badlands account, but another common theory is it's run by a few active and/or former employees of the entire National Parks Service. Based on their tweets, they're vehemently against government censorship of a prevalent and important issue — climate change.
Or, as their bio states, they are "the Unofficial 'Resistance' team of U.S. National Park Service. Not taxpayer subsidised! Come for rugged scenery, fossil beds, 89 million acres of landscape."
Just one day after the account started tweeting, it accumulated over 450,000 followers. On the second day, it had reached 985,000. Obviously the mission to keep science facts alive is significant to the world, at least on Twitter.
Freedom of speech is part of the First Amendment of our Constitution. Even though that is currently being threatened by the government, thanks to the power of the social media and groups like this, the gag rule will not stand.
Here are 14 tweets showing how it all went down:
1. First, @AltNatParkSer replicated the tweets that had been removed from the official Badlands National Park account.
"The pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million (ppm). As of December 2016, 404.93 ppm."— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485298466.0
2. Then it got honest about what likely happened to Badland's social media manager.
Somewhere a call came down the line demanding the account editor remove the tweets. Someone pulled rank and cited President Trump's orders— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485299611.0
3. Next, it quoted a president who actually understood the threat climate change poses to humanity.
"We can't sit idly by. Climate change is likely to threaten our national security—we must act now." @BarackObama 45th US President— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485299931.0
4. Then, knowing the power of a strong visual, it posted a scary photo.
Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alas… https://t.co/MNShes7eNH— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485301097.0
5. Then it tried sending out a not-so-subtle theory as to why the Trump administration — and Trump in particular — doesn't want government organizations tweeting about climate change.
There'$ a rea$on WHY Pre$ident Trump want$ u$ $ilenced on #Climate $cience. Don't let US institutions be cen$ored— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485302897.0
6. It also directed people toward other organizations fighting the good and true science fight.
Did you know .@NASA has a full website dedicated to climate change science & research? Share & read & inform https://t.co/ssCptl1SX7— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485303007.0
7. And it retweeted this tweet — a dark joke from the original Badlands Twitter account.
The Badlands were created over eons through the gradual erosion of sediment. The erosion of U.S. democracy, however, will be far more rapid.— BadlandsNPSFans (@BadlandsNPSFans) 1485302786.0
8. Those behind @AltNatParkSer also responded truthfully to people who were curious about just what the heck they were hoping the account would do.
Hello, we are the Alternative National Park Service Twitter Account activated in time of war and censorship to ensu… https://t.co/ianETBxtVz— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485304476.0
9. It also broke the tension with a bit of humor.
"We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We'll fight… https://t.co/8SykRiPHY3— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485306190.0
10. And it clearly explained what's at stake for the national parks.
To understand what's best for our parks, we need to have access to US science data on climate & the environment. We must not be silenced.— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485307756.0
11. As such, it needs your help to preserve vital scientific information.
This is the National Park Service's Cultural Resources Climate Change Strategy. Pls download before it is removed. https://t.co/oO3ZMVxxwN— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485308777.0
12. And it empathized with the overwhelming frustration over reinvigorated pipeline projects.
The National Parks, forest and wilderness reserves in our country are our greatest natural assets. We're scared for the future. #Keystone— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485312741.0
13. It even created fun chants for upcoming science marches.
What do we want? Peer-reviewed Science When do we want it? Yesterday, please!— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485316563.0
14. And finally, it's helping its environmentalist friends who are also running rogue accounts and fearlessly keeping science facts alive.
Meanwhile, this article should help guide our comradely 'Alt' accounts in managing their own going forward. https://t.co/foBtSzZWCo— NOT ALT WORLD (@NOT ALT WORLD) 1485433090.0
It's scary to watch in real time as something as innocent as a handful of scientifically accurate tweets about climate change are deleted, seemingly censored by an administration that refuses to acknowledge the danger it poses to us all.
As more and more government groups find that what they can or cannot say to the public is restricted (the Sunlight Foundation is keeping track of them here), it's up to everyday concerned citizens to help keep the truth alive.
You can easily help @AltNatParkSer by following them on Twitter and doing all the things they've suggested above. Call your representative and demand the gag rule lifted and EPA grant funding unfrozen. March for science in the Scientists' March on Washington. Donate, if you can, to the science research organizations at risk of losing their federal support.
This is not a battle that's going to be won with several rogue tweets. It's going to take time, dedication, and considerable efforts on behalf of civilians. But this a fight we can't afford to lose. For the sake of the planet and everyone you know, if you believe in science, don't stay silent.
This post was updated 5/4/2017.