If you’re going to take to social media to deny that climate change exists (it does, and it’s our fault), you better not inaccurately cite NASA. The US space and science agency might respond with a public smackdown.
When Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” a popular scientist and media personality in the US, posted on Facebook about a bet he tried to make with a climate denier over rising global temperatures, things turned ugly. Commenters started attacking him and the concept of climate change. And, interestingly enough, NASA started responding.
NASA’s responses pointed climate-change doubters to evidence that the phenomenon is happening, posting a link to a University of Berkeley study that says global temperatures have risen 1.5 degrees over the past 250 years, and explaining why focusing on surface temperatures might not be the best metric.
But it was the tone of the responses that delighted many: At one point the account explained wryly that it doesn’t “fudge” numbers, and it warns one commenter, “Do not misrepresent NASA.”
Fighting trolls on the internet is an demoralizing, exhausting, and mostly futile task. But NASA deserves some credit for trying to dispel the misinformation around climate change. And it seems we can expect more of this from NASA’s popular social media accounts. NASA told Quartz that the “NASA Climate Change” Facebook page (associated with climate.nasa.gov) is just one of many ways that NASA routinely communicates to the public the results of NASA-related research on climate change and a wide variety of other Earth science.”
“Direct engagement with the public is something we strongly value and support at NASA,” the statement explained. “It’s a key component to our successful social media strategy. We often solicit #askNASA questions and try and address inquires about our missions. From time to time, we also work to clear up misperceptions or inaccuracies, such as Internet rumors about Earth-ending asteroids or comets that sometimes go viral.”