Badlands National Park Defies Donald Trump to Tweet Science

Hours after dryly listing facts scientists agree on, but which the president has disputed, the account removed the evidently offending content.

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

Once the home of cute animal pictures and weather advisories, the Badlands National Park’s Twitter account is now the front line of a burgeoning government censorship war.

Hours after the National Parks Service retweeted side-by-side photos of President Barack Obama’s bustling 2009 inauguration and Trump’s comparatively empty ceremony on Friday, the Parks Service informed employees that all Parks Twitter accounts were to cease activity, as Gizmodo first reported. Parks resumed making apolitical tweets the following day, after issuing an official Twitter apology.

But for a few hours Tuesday afternoon, one park continued to tweet against the dying of the light, publishing four tweets on climate change, a proven scientific phenomenon that Trump and others in his administration have publicly called a hoax.

“The pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million (ppm). As of December 2016, 404.93 ppm,” the Badlands National Park tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

The message, uncontested scientific fact, was followed by a second tweet reading “Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. #climate”.

Then a third, “Flipside of the atmosphere; ocean acidity has increased 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution. ‘Ocean Acidification’ #climate #carboncycle,” was also deleted, and a fourth stating that “Burning one gallon of gasoline puts nearly 20lbs of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. #climate.”

But within hours, the four tweets—each one retweeted thousands of times—and their declarations of scientific facts were gone. And no one will say what happened to them or their author.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Badlands National Park’s main phone number was out of service. An attempt to email the park through a form on its website returned a delivery error.

A number for a specific Badlands campsite reached an employee who appeared unaware of the tweets and told The Daily Beast that “we don’t have a tweeter.” That employee added that the Badlands were “having a blizzard right now” and that most staff would be out until the park fully opens for the season.

The Democratic National Committee, however, has already made time to weigh in on the park’s tweets.

“Vladimir Putin would be proud,” DNC press secretary Adrienne Watson said in a Tuesday evening statement “in response to the deletion of the Badlands National Park Service tweets about climate change in defiance of President Trump’s gag order.”

The Trump administration has issued gag orders against multiple federal agencies since his inauguration.

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“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 internal Parks Department memo distributed on Friday read. “In summary, this Twitter stand down means we will cease use of Twitter immediately. However, there is no need to suspend or delete government accounts until directed.”

Environmental Protection Agency employees have also reportedly been banned from speaking to reporters, or from posting about their work on social media. The agency’s grants programs were reportedly also frozen.

U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists were also reportedly issued a gag order this week. “Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents,” read a department-wide email obtained by BuzzFeed on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday night, the Badlands National Park’s Twitter was silent. Its most political remaining tweet was from Sunday when it posted the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” the park asked above an image of a bighorn sheep.

But on Tuesday night, after the Badlands tweets went down, another climate-concerned federal agency stepped up.

“Dec 2016’s avgt global temp was 3rd highest on record. Global avg atmospheric CO2 concentration was ~40 ppm,” NASA Climate tweeted, alongside a link proving the data.