Since taking office, the Trump administration has issued at least two gag orders on scientists and researchers — instructing employees at the Environmental Protection Agency not to discuss a recent freeze on grant funding, and forbidding the research unit of the the U.S. Department of Agriculture from releasing “public-facing documents.” With new rules like this in place, where’s the public going to get its scientific information? Well, for a brief moment this afternoon, the Twitter account for Badlands National Park was tweeting out facts about climate change — consequences, apparently, be damned.
Last week, the main Twitter account of the National Park Service was temporarily asked to stop posting following the retweeting of two tweets — one about the lack of crowds at the inauguration and one about LGBTQ and Civil Rights pages vanishing from the White House website — that didn’t exactly make the new administration look good. According to a letter obtained by Gizmodo, all National Park Service employees received an email informing them “we have received direction from the Department through [the Washington Support Office] that directs all [Department of Interior] bureaus to immediately cease use of government Twitter accounts until further notice.” The main account has resumed posting, but has restricted its tweets to anodyne praise of the beauty of the parks system.
But over on the feed for Badlands National Park (a subsidiary Twitter of the central NPS acccount), somebody with the Twitter password spent Tuesday afternoon getting real about climate change. Instead of landscape pictures and weather reports, @BadlandsNPS tweeted jarring statistics about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and about ocean-acidity levels.
In the scheme of things, this is a minor expression of resistance to a regime hostile to climate science. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that this administration is uniquely sensitive to even minor insults. Within a few hours, the tweets were deleted — but not before hundreds of people had seen, shared, and taken plenty of screenshots.
Will our anonymous tweeter be all right? Don’t worry — people are already offering to help him or her find a job.