In the age of digitalization and social media, science is available to everyone — at least, that was the case until Donald Trump took office.
Just hours after Trump’s inauguration, word got out that several pages had been removed from the official White House website, including the pages about climate change, LGBT rights, healthcare, as well as the Spanish version of the entire website.
And then, less than a week later, the war on Twitter began. Trump issued an executive order restricting the information that government agencies such as the National Parks Service, Environmental Protection Agency and NASA were allowed to share publicly on their Twitter accounts.
Personally, I think this is an outrage. Limiting the sharing of facts and purposefully hiding information from the country’s people seems like a move done just to show power, and I can’t imagine any situation where restricting people’s access to science is done in their best interests. And, clearly, the scientists at these agencies feel the same way — because ‘rogue’ Twitter accounts started popping up almost immediately after the ban.
These accounts are unofficial and technically not affiliated with the agencies they represent, and include disclaimers as such. However, they are run by staff members from these agencies, sharing this now illegal information on their own time, making it free and accessible to anybody who looks at the account. And since they’re unofficial, there’s no way they can be censored.
On Jan. 29, the rogue EPA Twitter account reported that 25 to 35 percent of plant and animal species on Earth are at increased risk of extinction due to global warming. They also reported that more than 2.4 million pounds of carbon per second are released into the atmosphere, and that as a result of this, oceans are becoming more acidic, which is harmful to marine and water based life. Conversely, the official EPA Twitter account has not posted since Jan. 19.
Looking into these statistics further, there are many other sources online backing up this information — the average temperature of the planet has risen 1.38 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, a bigger increase than at any time in the past millennium. The same trend is true of carbon — atmospheric carbon levels are above 400 parts per million for the first time in history. And when carbon dioxide from the atmosphere reacts with seawater, this produces carbonic acid, which is toxic to many fish.
These are definitely issues that the average American should be aware of, so that we can all do our best to make a difference and reverse these issues. Refusing to allow the government to talk about these problems will not make them go away.
It seems to me that these rogue Twitter accounts are upholding the U.S. Constitution far more than Trump is — they’re exercising their First Amendment right to free speech, as well as upholding Article 1, Section 8, which promotes the progress of science. We all live in this world, and we have a right to know how our planet is changing, particularly when it comes to matters such as global warming that will have a major impact on our future.
Besides, Donald Trump uses his Twitter to fight with people he doesn’t like — why shouldn’t these agencies do the same?