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Federal Park Staffers Defy Presidential Order, Tweet Climate Change Warnings

More CO2 in the atmosphere 'than at any time in the last 650,000 years,' said park's Twitter feed

Unnamed employees at the Badlands National Park in South Dakota were lifted to hero status by the mainstream media recently when they defied a presidential blackout on social media by using the park’s Twitter account to tweet climate change facts.

After President Donald Trump issued a ban on social media use by the Department of the Interior, which runs the park system, someone from the national park went to Twitter to warn people about the dangers of the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years” was tweeted along with the hashtag “#climate.”

The tweet has since been deleted.

The incident caused a new flare-up in the ongoing debate over climate change policy. While they get less mainstream media coverage, some climate experts say posts like those from federal park staffers set off false alarms.

“Rising CO2 in the atmosphere will benefit the Earth,” said William Happer, a Princeton physics professor, in an email.

The nonprofit CO2 Coalition states that higher levels of carbon dioxide are helping make green plants more drought-resistant and have led to a significant greening of the planet over the last few decades.

The carbon dioxide levels “during the past tens of millions of years have been much closer to starvation levels … when many plants die, than to the much higher levels that most plants prefer,” according to a 2015 report released by the CO2 Coalition.

What’s the significance of rising levels of carbon dioxide on the atmosphere?

“That's like asking, what's the significance of having more humans on Earth than ever before?” said Roy Spencer, a climatologist, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville and former NASA scientist. “Increasing atmospheric CO2 might well be good for life on Earth. It has caused global greening, increased crop productivity, and probably some portion of the relatively benign warming we've experienced. It cannot be demonstrated to have caused any significant change in severe weather of any kind.”

John Christy, a climate scientist and professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, said carbon dioxide is a natural component of the atmosphere and the building block of life on Earth. Christy said in past times, carbon dioxide levels were up to 10 times higher than they are today.

“The question is whether this returned CO2 might affect the climate in a way that is a problem,” Christy said in an email. “Our research indicates the rising CO2 concentrations are not having much impact on the global temperature and no impact on weather events such as droughts/floods/tornadoes/hurricanes etc.”