The Revolution Will Be Tweeted, by Our National Parks

NPS employees know facts matter. They won’t be silenced.

January 25, 2017

Gianina Lindsey/Flickr

Remember the good old days of last week, when a government employee stating a scientific fact was utterly unremarkable―nay, expected? Well, by day four of the Trump presidency, such humdrum has become a rogue act—and a defiant public servant working in South Dakota’s Badlands National Park has emerged as a hero.

No matter how you slice it, yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the environment. Not only did President Trump revive the highly controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines (a move the American Civil Liberties Union called “a slap in the face to Native Americans”), but news emerged that a gag order had been placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to a leaked memo, the agency can transmit “no press releases," “no blog messages,” “no new content . . . on any website,” and “no social media.” The transition spokesman said the transition team plans on "scrubbing up" the agency's climate change page.

But just as Americans who enjoy breathing clean air and drinking clean water were starting to fall into a doom spiral, a lone government Twitter handle gave us hope that the resistance is alive and well.

Suddenly, @BadlandsNPS shot out some “fun” facts about the climate.

In the current political climate (pun intended), these 140-character statements have taken on a heroically subversive air. Rogue One instantly won the hearts and minds of fact-loving Twitterers everywhere.

Alas, it didn’t take long before the original tweets were “no longer available.” In our newfound reality, communicating undisputed science is apparently grounds for silencing. (An anonymous NPS official told the Washington Post that the tweets likely came from a former employee who was no longer authorized to use the account.)

Whoever the tweeter be, the joke is on the censors, because, well, screenshots. Once on Twitter, always on Twitter. As of this morning, the Badlands National Park tweeter had gained the handle some 160,000 (!) new followers. Many are using the hashtag #itweetwithbadlands to make sure this act of resistance doesn’t disappear.

And from the ashes of those deleted bytes, a new hero emerges: @AltUSNatParkService. (In this case, “alt” is actually a good thing.) The account, which is up to 650,000 followers, is apparently run by “several active NPS rangers and friends.” It’s sticking to the facts.

Tweet your heart out! (And then call your senators and representatives. Seriously.)

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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