The Sounds of Silencing Science

December 16, 2017

It continues.

The Hill:

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke brought the leader of a California park to his office last month to reprimand him for climate change-related tweetsthe park had sent via Twitter, two sources close to the situation said.

Zinke did not take any formal disciplinary action against David Smith, superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park. And the tweets at issue weren’t deleted, because they didn’t violate National Park Service or Interior Department policies.

But Zinke made it clear to Smith that the Trump administration doesn’t want national parks to put out official communications on climate change.

And by bringing Smith from California to Washington, D.C., to deliver the tongue-lashing, he also sent a message to the park service at large.

One source said Smith “got a trip to the woodshed” and described his one-on-one meeting with Zinke as “highly unusual.”

Another source said Zinke expressed concern with the tweets during the meeting, and told Smith “no more climate tweets.”

Other sources with knowledge of the meeting confirmed that Zinke wanted to stop tweets about climate change.

The Park Service didn’t respond to various questions about the situation, including requests to confirm the Zinke-Smith meeting and to identify who sent the tweets at issue.

“Many of our 417 National Park sites have a social media presence and content is generally determined at a local level,” Park Service spokesman Jeremy Barnum said in a statement.

joshua

Smith did not talk to The Hill for this story, and the Park Service did not make him available for an interview.

Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for Zinke, denied the description of the meeting.

“You have been given really bad information,” she said, declining to elaborate or to make Zinke available for an interview.

The meeting came after a series of 15 tweets were sent on Nov. 8 by Joshua Tree’s Twitter account. The tweets were focused on climate change’s impacts both on national parks in general and on Joshua Tree in particular.

The tweets were based on scientific conclusions, sometimes citing federal government reports and including caveats when necessary.

“An overwhelming consensus—over 97%—of climate scientists agree that human activity is the driving force behind today’s rate of global temperature increase. Natural factors that impact the climate are still at work, but cannot account for today’s rapid warming,” read the first tweet of the series.

“Current models predict the suitable habitat for Joshua trees may be reduced by 90% in the future with a 3°C (5.4°F) increase in average temperature over the next 100 years,” said another.

It detailed climate change’s expected impacts on the desert Southwest, including on flora and fauna species like pinyon pine and desert iguana, and linked to a Park Service web page with more details on Joshua Tree and climate change.

The tweets got significant attention, garnering far more retweets and likes than the vast majority of tweets from national park accounts.

It’s not the first controversy surrounding the Park Service’s social media under the Trump administration.

On the day of President Trump’s inauguration, the Park Service’s main Twitter account retweeted a comparison of the inauguration crowd size on the National Mall — which the agency manages — against an obviously larger crowd from former President Obama’s 2009 inauguration.

The tweet was soon deleted.

Days later, the Twitter account of South Dakota’s Badlands National Park sent out tweets with facts about climate change. They were deleted, and the agency said a former employee with access to the account was responsible.

Trump’s opponents celebrated both episodes, along with the Joshua Tree tweets, as rebellion against the new administration, including Trump’s skepticism of human-induced climate change.

Conservationists say Zinke’s admonishment over the Joshua Tree tweets is especially troubling, both because of the chilling effect on the agency and as a sign of the administration’s views on global warming.

 

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4 Responses to “The Sounds of Silencing Science”


    • Yes in that article he is promoting mining in the Arctic that the Government si opening up as boosting employment.
      From OilPrice.com a mining and oil/gas investment advisory website
      https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/The-Five-Mining-Companies-To-Watch-In-2018.html

      an excerpt
      What if there were mines…without miners?

      The future of mineral extraction is robots, drones, automated systems, and technology that will eliminate the human element and cut costs way, way down.

      One mining executive predicts that robots will transform the industry, making it “unrecognizable” in as little as a decade.

      Aerial drones can survey enormous areas faster and easier than manned aircraft, taking detailed digital notes of the terrain in order to pinpoint the most promising spots.

      Sensors dug into the earth can map out the underground terrain at lightning speed, delivering immense amounts of data for analysis, before a single shovel sinks into the earth.

      Mining bots will dig without human accompaniment. There will be no need for elaborate and costly safety measures. The time needed to tap into deposits will be cut in half.

      Companies like Caterpillar Inc. and Komatsu Mining Corp. have already begun developing automated loaders, excavators and other mining bots. New mines are being designed solely for exploitation by robots, with not a single hard-hat miner in sight.

  1. grindupbaker Says:

    I think the cities run the parks here. Except the larger parks that are the size of Australia or Europe I think.


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