A group of 182 activist scientists and academics are demanding the American Museum of Natural History cut ties with “anti-science propagandists” and remove conservative philanthropist Rebekah Mercer from its board.
“We ask the American Museum of Natural History, and all public science museums, to end ties to anti-science propagandists and funders of climate science misinformation, and to have Rebekah Mercer leave the American Museum of Natural History Board of Trustees,” they wrote in an open letter to the museum, which was obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The activist scholars, which include Penn State’s Michael Mann and Harvard’s Naomi Oreskes, argue science will be “eroded by a loss of public trust if museums are associated with individuals and organizations known for rejecting climate science.”
Activists sent a similar letter to American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in 2015, demanding the iconic museum distance itself from generous benefactors who are politically conservative.
“Since that original letter, we have seen welcome changes as many museums updated their policies related to fossil fuel financial interests,” reads the open letter, “the American Museum of Natural History increased its focus on climate change concerns and global sustainability in its investments and business plans.”
“But given the prior AMNH funding and board membership associated with Exxon Corporation and David Koch, the prominence of Rebekah Mercer and the Mercer Family Foundation as current AMNH donors and on the Board of Trustees can prompt skepticism and hunts for signs of corruption, no matter the quality of the museum priorities and exhibits overall,” reads the letter.
Many of the open letter’s signatories have a history of attacking conservative groups and fossil fuel companies. Oreskes, for example, helped come up with a strategy to sue energy companies for allegedly covering up global warming science.
Another signatory, Edward Maibach, who does climate change communications at George Mason University, signed a letter in 2015 asking the Obama administration to open a racketeering investigation into groups skeptical of man-made warming.
So what sparked the latest letter? The activists pointed to a Twitter rant by environmental economist Jonah Busch who claimed there was misleading climate science information at an AMNH exhibit funded by conservative philanthropist David Koch.
— Jonah Busch (@jonahbusch) January 6, 2018
So, was the ice age exhibit being misleading? No, but it apparently angered enough politically-active scientists to want to punish conservative museum donors.
“Rebekah Mercer and the Mercer Family Foundation, political kingmakers and the financiers behind Breitbart News, are major funders of climate science denial projects such as the Heartland Institute, where they have donated nearly $6 million since 2008,” the activists academics wrote.
“The Mercer Family Foundation is also a top donor to the C02 Coalition and the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, institutions that assert that an increase in C02 emissions from fossil fuels will be a great benefit to plant and animal life on Earth,” they wrote.
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