Science Museums Being Urged To Burn Bridges To Fossil Fuel Industry


Environmental groups and climate scientists are calling for museums to cut all ties with fossil fuels companies.

An open letter has been sent to over 330 natural history and science centers that claim fossil fuel companies also are the biggest funders of misinformation on climate science. Climate scientists reveal their concerns that integrity of these institutions is compromised if they have any association with fossil fuel companies and philanthropists like the Koch brothers.

The letter directly targets David Koch, who is a trustee as well as one of the leading donors and exhibit sponsors of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. David Koch has also funded about $67 million to  climate denial groups.

"When some of the biggest contributors to climate change and funders of misinformation on climate science sponsor exhibitions in museums of science and natural history, they undermine public confidence in the validity of the institutions responsible for transmitting scientific knowledge," states the letter.

The Koch family has given millions of dollars to many medical, academic and cultural institutions in the last few decades. However, David Koch and his brother Charles have also made funding to climate change opposition groups.

The letter suggests that museums and other similar institution should not accept any donations from people like the Koch brothers, whose dealings are in opposition to the institutions' missions.

Koch Industries is a paper, petrochemical and oil conglomerate and its fortune was built through investments in the oil industry of Canada in 1959. The Koch brothers have also lobbied against environment and carbon regulation. Their influence greatly increased after the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling that allowed companies to make unlimited donations to political candidates.

About three dozen scientists have signed the open letter, including Kevin E. Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist, Danny Harvey, a professor of Geography and Climatology at the University of Toronto, James Hansen, a climatologist, Henry Pollack, an Emeritus Professor of Geophysics at the University of Michigan and many more.

Trenberth says that the letter is an illustration of scientists defying tradition and starting activism. He revealed that, until now, scientists had just presented facts and left decision-making to policy-makers. However, now scientists will not remain silent.

In April this year, campaigners are also estimated to request that the American Museum of Natural History remove David Koch as a trustee. 

Photo: Jennifer Feuchter | Flickr 

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