If having National Park Service employees be at the front lines of the Twitter resistance against President Trump’s administration sounds like something out of an alternative universe, well, then that just seems to be our newly inaugurated reality.
It began when its official account @NatlParkService retweeted anti-Trump tweets, including a widely-circulated picture comparing the massive crowd at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration to the relatively lacking one at Trump’s own. They were later removed and the account was banned from tweeting. It went live again with an apology for the “mistaken RTs” the next day.
Then on Tuesday evening, the official Badlands National Park Twitter account “went rogue,” sending out tweets about climate science. Many concluded that it was in defiance of the administration issuing a controversial gag order on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and ordering the agency to remove climate change information on its website.
Similarly, the tweets were deleted hours later and a spokesperson faulted “a former employee who was not currently authorized to use the park’s account” for the tweets.
It seems that the administration finally wrested control over these Twitter accounts, but in its wake, an unofficial National Park Service account dubbed @AltNatParkSer is filling the void. Billing itself as “The Unofficial ‘Resistance’ team of U.S. National Park Service,” the account has been actively posting science facts and challenging Trump on his preferred platform of communication.
The account claims to be run by “several active NPS rangers and friends.“
Before entering office, Donald Trump called climate change a “hoax” invented by the Chinese, and although he’s since backed away from the controversial statement, he has repeatedly reiterated his belief that climate change isn’t occurring. Since becoming president, he has taken steps that back up this false belief. Hours after his inauguration, information on climate change on the White House website was removed. Then he issued the controversial gag order on the EPA and their employees, and ordered a temporary freeze on its grants and contracts.
Trump’s nominee for head of the EPA is Scott Pruitt, who sued the agency 14 times as Oklahoma attorney general. Pruitt, however, disagrees with the president’s belief that climate change isn’t happening; rather, he believes that it is, but is unsure if human activity is the primary cause of it. “The ability to measure and pursue the degree and the extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue,” he said in his hearing.
An overwhelming majority of climate scientists have repeatedly stated that they believe human activity is the leading cause of climate change. Despite the evidence, the GOP has opposed everything from the landmark Paris Agreement to President Obama’s “clean power plan” to ease dependence on coal energy. A study from 2015 found that, among other conservative parties, “the U.S. Republican Party is an anomaly in denying anthropogenic climate change.” Some Republicans, like Pruitt, believe that the earth is warming, but not that human activity is its cause. Others like Trump outright dismiss it.
At the time of writing, no media outlet has been able to verify the people behind @AltNatParkSer. A Plus has reached out to the account for comment.
Cover image via Shutterstock