The National Park Service went from forest rangers to Power Rangers on Twitter last month in a defiant display of scientific integrity, and soon was joined in protest by several other agencies that had been banned from talking to media or tweeting by President Donald Trump.
The Washington Post even reported that Trump called Michael T. Reynolds, acting National Park Service director, and asked him to find proof of his false claims of higher-than-reported inauguration attendance via aerial photographs.
Which begs the question: Why? What does this achieve?
The National Park Service later tweetedout, “We regret the mistaken RTs from our account yesterday and look forward to continuing to share the beauty and history of our parks with you.”
In an apparent response, three climate-related tweets (pictured above) were sent out by Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The posts have since been deleted from the account but have been spread widely on Twitter, reaching perhaps a much larger audience than they would have had the Trump administration not ordered the tweets to be deleted.
“The pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million (ppm). As of December 2016, 404.93 ppm,” the account posted.
It was soon followed by another tweet that said “Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. #climate” and, finally, “Flipside of the atmosphere: ocean acidity has increase 30% since the Industrial Revolution. ‘Ocean Acidification’#carboncycle.”
Other parks soon joined the fray, with the Golden Gate National Park in California tweeting that 2016 was the hottest year on record for the third year in a row and Death Valley National Park posting photographs of Japanese Americans who were interened there during World War II.
Several “rogue,” unofficial Twitter accounts then were formed for various agencies to push forward a message of resistance, including @ALTUSNatParkSer, @AltUSEPA, @AltUSFWSRefuge, @RogueNASA, @AltUSDA and @AlternativeNWS. The accounts are purported to be run by staff members of the agencies.
Regardless of your political stance, you have to admire their courage for standing up for what they believe in. Freedom of speech and information is the cornerstone of our democracy, and we deserve a fair and open government.
Tom Crosson, chief spokesman for the National Park Service, told The Associated Press there are no restrictions at the agency regarding Twitter or other social media.
“There’s no gag order on national parks that would prevent people from tweeting,” he said in the interview.
The groups are organizing a “March for Science” protest in Washington, D.C., and across the United States, similar to the “March for Women” that saw huge numbers. The event isn’t restricted to scientists, instead being open to anyone “who values empirical science.”
The event’s date will be announced soon, and marches are even being planned as far away as Europe.
This news comes after a big win for the parks service, as a bill drafted in the Wyoming state legislature that would revise the state’s constitution to allow the state to take over management of federal lands was killed Jan. 20 by Senate President Eli Bebout. Many hunters, anglers and hikers reportedly rallied against the land-transfer bill, wearing stickers that read “Keep It Public, Wyoming,” though proponents of the bill argue that recreation areas would have been untouched and it was more an effort to secure natural resources like minerals that are under federal control than a land-grab.