How an 'alternative' Twitter account is standing up to Trump's EPA gag order.

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.


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.

2. Then it got honest about what likely happened to Badland's social media manager.

3. Next, it quoted a president who actually understood the threat climate change poses to humanity.

4. Then, knowing the power of a strong visual, it posted a scary photo.

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.

6. It also directed people toward other organizations fighting the good and true science fight.

7. And it retweeted this tweet — a dark joke from the original Badlands Twitter account.

8. Those behind @AltNatParkSer also responded truthfully to people who were curious about just what the heck they were hoping the account would do.

9. It also broke the tension with a bit of humor.

10. And it clearly explained what's at stake for the national parks.

11. As such, it needs your help to preserve vital scientific information.

12. And it empathized with the overwhelming frustration over reinvigorated pipeline projects.

13. It even created fun chants for upcoming science marches.

14. And finally, it's helping its environmentalist friends who are also running rogue accounts and fearlessly keeping science facts alive.  

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.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
True

Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

While most 10-year-olds are playing Minecraft, riding bikes, or watching YouTube videos, Justin Sather is intent on saving the planet. And it all started with a frog blanket when he was a baby.

"He carried it everywhere," Justin's mom tells us. "He had frog everything, even a frog-themed birthday party."

In kindergarten, Justin learned that frogs are an indicator species – animals, plants, or microorganisms used to monitor drastic changes in our environment. With nearly one-third of frog species on the verge of extinction due to pollution, pesticides, contaminated water, and habitat destruction, Justin realized that his little amphibian friends had something important to say.

"The frogs are telling us the planet needs our help," says Justin.

While it was his love of frogs that led him to understand how important the species are to our ecosystem, it wasn't until he read the children's book What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada that Justin-the-activist was born.

Inspired by the book and with his mother's help, he set out on a mission to raise funds for frog habitats by selling toy frogs in his Los Angeles neighborhood. But it was his frog art which incorporated scientific facts that caught people's attention. Justin's message spread from neighbor to neighbor and through social media; so much so that he was able to raise $2,000 for the non-profit Save The Frogs.

And while many kids might have their 8th birthday party at a laser tag center or a waterslide park, Justin invited his friends to the Ballona wetlands ecological preserve to pick invasive weeds and discuss the harms of plastic pollution.

Justin's determination to save the frogs and help the planet got a massive boost when he met legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather

At one of her Roots and Shoots youth initiative events, Dr. Goodall was so impressed with Justin's enthusiasm for helping frogs, she challenged the young activist to take it one step further and focus on plastic pollution as well. Justin accepted her challenge and soon after was featured in an issue of Bravery Magazine dedicated to Jane Goodall.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Sterling Pics

Pinky Cole, owner of the Slutty Vegan

Last year, in the middle of what we thought were the darkest times of the COVID-19 pandemic, after endless months of cooking at home, my husband and I decided to venture out of our cocoon and get "slutified." That's what people are called after a visit to one of Atlanta's hottest burger joints, provocatively named, Slutty Vegan.

Owned by 33-year-old fuchsia-loc'd maven and philanthropist Aisha "Pinky" Cole, Slutty Vegan has three locations in the ATL, with more in the works. Her menu reads more like a list of offerings at a bordello than a restaurant, with the "Ménage à Trois," "One Night Stand," and the "Super Slut," and the atmosphere is more like a night club. But, it's not just the cheeky burger names or the concept of plant-based fast food that has customers literally wrapped around the block at all of her locations, it's the vibe she's created. Slutty Vegan is more than a restaurant. It's a culture. And Cole is at the center of it, building a community based on supporting Black entrepreneurs, getting involved in politics, giving back, and being thoughtful about what you put into your body.


Keep Reading Show less