Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Favorite New Word "Factivsm" Saving Science Under Trump

In recent days, signs point to scientists really ramping up
"factivism" to counter the Trump administration's climate denial.
You might have heard of the daring social media manager for the Badlands National Park, who in a welcome fit of resistance on Tuesday, tweeted out a series of facts about climate change.

The people at Badlands did this to protest the Trump administration's apparent silencing of science - and facts- to suit what is more comfortable for him anyway, Trump's "alternative fact" universe.

Trump is no fan of climate science, having famously called that very climate science a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and others to thwart United States economic development.

Or something.

Since taking office less than a week ago, Trump's administration has ordered employees at the Environmental Protection Agency to not discuss a new freeze on grant funding and told personnel at the U.S. Department of Agriculture from releasing research documents.

And, famously, the Trumpsters at least temporarily told the National Park Service from tweeting photos of the crowd size at Trump's inauguration because it depicted crowds smaller than in the president's fantasy world.

All these agencies deal with climate change a bit, and these gag orders were all too much for somebody at the Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

So they tweeted the following on Monday:

"Flipside  of the atmosphere: Ocean acidity has increased 30% since the Industrial Revolution. "Ocean Acidification #climate #carboncycle." 

And tbis: "Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years #climate."

AND this: "The pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million (ppm). As of of December, 2016, 404.93 ppm."

These three statements are just Climate 101, something any serious student of climate change knows.

But these facts, tweeted in apparent defiance of Trump, are a form of resistance that has been dubbed "factivism"   It's the act of combating Trump and his minions and their alternative reality with facts.

I really like this. Especially when it comes to climate change, when there's so much science going on in that field and so much temptation to silence the science among the climate deniers in the White House and elsewhere.

As New York Magazine points out, the Badlands tweets from Tuesday are only a minor form of insult to the Trump administration. But Trump can't bear even minor insults and if there's multiple cases of factivism going on, that could be a real weapon against Trump's fight against the climate change fight.

The Badlands Twitter account was silenced after this, and whoever tweeted those climate facts will probably be fired. (Though I'm not too worried about him or her, I bet there's a lot of science organizations that need a good social media communicator like that person.)

The famoust Badlands tweets have been deleted, but so many people saved screenshots of them that they are still being widely distributed 24 hours later.

All kinds of other factivsm resistance organizations, media and efforts have cropped up even before Trump was inaugurated, and that has accelerated in the past week.

In an apparent response to Tuesday's Badlands tweets, another Twitter account, @AltNatParkSer bills itself as the "unofficial "resistance" team of U.S. National Park Service.

By midafternoon eastern time Wednesday, @AltNatParkSer had accumulated 535,000 followers, including me. Two hours later, it was up to 608,000 followers.

Some of @AltNatParkSer Tweets poke mean fun at President Trump to try to get under his skin, like this one: "Reports of an unidentified orange haired mammal close to President's Park. Possibly invasive species. DC animal services have been notified."

Some bring up science: "The @USGS has a full list of US agencies running climate change programmes. Could they all be wrong, Mr. President?"

Other tweets note the admittably scary thing the people behind the account are doing: "This account should not have to exist & we are sorry for any problems we are causing our colleagues. But we didn't start this."

But they will continue, and the effort seems to be spreading.

There's a movement to organize a Scientists March On Washington, modeled after the highly successful Women's Marches last weekend.

I doubt 500,000 scientists will descend on Washington, but you never know.

There's also a move to get more scientists to run for public office, and encourage people to support those politician/scientists.

The organization is called 314 Action, and it's kinda modeled after Emily's List, the group that encourages women to run for office and others to support them.

Climate scientists, and any other scientist for that matter, are also being directed to an internet archive site where they can save climate change web pages and data before the Trump administration scrubs it away from U.S. government sites.

There's a lot of talk about resistance to Donald Trump. Trump, meanwhile, appears not to want the public to know the true facts about climate change, or practically anything else for that matter.

Scienced are taking on the unlikely role of resisting the Trump administration's climate denial. These scientists might turn out to be our most important factivists.

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