The Revolution Will Be Tweeted, by Our National Parks

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

Credit: 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.)

This article was originally published on onEarth, which is no longer in publication. onEarth was founded in 1979 as the Amicus Journal, an independent magazine of thought and opinion on the environment. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. This article is available for online republication by news media outlets or nonprofits under these conditions: The writer(s) must be credited with a byline; you must note prominently that the article was originally published by and link to the original; the article cannot be edited (beyond simple things such grammar); you can’t resell the article in any form or grant republishing rights to other outlets; you can’t republish our material wholesale or automatically—you need to select articles individually; you can’t republish the photos or graphics on our site without specific permission; you should drop us a note to let us know when you’ve used one of our articles.

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