Scientists including climatologist James Hansen and ecologist George Woodwell have drafted an open letter to science museums across the country to reject money from David Koch, founder of Koch Industries and a major arts donor, and to remove him as a trustee from museum boards. The letter states that “the integrity of these institutions is compromised by association with special interests who obfuscate climate science, fight environmental regulation, oppose clean energy legislation, and seek to ease limits on industrial pollution.” The letter goes on to describe Koch Industries as “one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States,” and says that Koch himself has donated millions of dollars in the last 20 years to fund groups that deny climate change science. It continues:
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. This corporate philanthropy comes at too high a cost.
Koch sits on the board of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. (He is also a major donor and a trustee emeritus at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and funded the Met’s new public plaza, which is named for him.) A petition to “kick Koch off the board,” which has already gathered about 60,000 signatures, will be delivered to the American Museum of Natural History at its board meeting in April, and to the Smithsonian at its board meeting in June.