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The Smithsonian’s Koch Problem

(Photo: DonkeyHotey/flickr/cc)

Two of our most celebrated natural history museums have a serious Koch problem.

David Koch sits on the board and is a major donor for both the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History.

You read that right– this is the same David Koch of the  Koch brothers, Kansas billionaires who since 1997 have sent $79 million to groups denying the science of climate change.

Just a few weeks ago the New York Times ran a story on Smithsonian-affiliated scientist Willie Soon who took $1.25 million from fossil fuel interests, including the Koch brothers, to publish scientific reports denying man-made climate change.

We can’t allow these trusted institutions to continue to be used as vehicles to deny science and confuse the public.  The good news is that we don’t have to stand idly by while the Kochs spread their agenda across our museums, educational institutions, and political system.

People across the country are calling on the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the American Museum of Natural History to get science deniers out of science museums.  You can add your voice to the growing chorus to kick David Koch off the board here.


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And, we’re not alone in making this call– today, the world’s top scientists, including several Nobel Prize winners, just released an unprecedented letter calling on science and natural history museums to cut all ties to the fossil fuel industry.

The effort is getting national attention, from The Guardian to the New York Times, with good reason.  The museums’ Koch problem is being compared to a museum taking a donation from the tobacco industry to fund an exhibit on respiratory health.  There’s no place for the agenda of people like David Koch and others trying to undermine science for their own financial gain in our country’s top museums.

The next exciting part will come in about two weeks, when we deliver this message directly to the American Museum of Natural History in New York before their board meeting (that David Koch will be attending) along with a coalition of groups.

The effort is being organized by The Natural History Museum, a new and very cool museum that is not only free from ties to the fossil fuel industry, but it calls out climate science deniers and culprits obstructing action on climate change, and actively champions the just transition to a sustainable and equitable future.  We’re glad to be working with them to to get science deniers out of science museums.

Take Action: Add your voice with those of the world’s top scientists and tell the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History to kick David Koch off their boards.

Rachel Rye Butler

Rachel Rye Butler leads the Democracy Campaign at Greenpeace USA. She writes frequently about people power, voting rights, and money in politics.

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