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Smithsonian Mounts Climate Change Denying Exhibition Funded by the Koch Brothers

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The Smithsonian risks damaging its reputation by having a polluter-funded science denier on the payroll and a wildly misleading Koch-funded exhibit that downplays the risks posed by human-caused climate change. It’s time for the world’s self-proclaimed “largest museum and research complex,” to live up to its mission — and its own climate statement — and cut ties with the anti-science, pro-pollution crowd.

Last month, a New York Times exposé revealed that Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers.” This included funding from Exxon-Mobil and “at least $230,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.” The Koch brothers have become an even bigger funder of disinformation on climate science than Exxon Mobil.

During this period, Soon has advanced a repeatedly-debunked theory arguing that humans are not the primary cause of global warming. In October, the Smithsonian itself put out a climate statement, which makes clear that such a view is simply anti-scientific. The Smithsonian explains, “Scientific evidence has demonstrated that the global climate is warming as a result of increasing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases generated by human activities.”

The newly uncovered documents show that “Dr. Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as ‘deliverables’ that he completed in exchange for their money.”

Even more shocking, the Smithsonian repeatedly signed off on contracts with Southern Company Services — a coal company and long-time funder of science denial — requiring the Smithsonian to provide the coal utility “advanced written copy of proposed publications … for comment and input.”

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