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.
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.