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A ‘Grateful’ Smithsonian Denies Greenwashing ‘Philanthropist’ David H. Koch’s Dirty Money

By Brad Johnson  

"A ‘Grateful’ Smithsonian Denies Greenwashing ‘Philanthropist’ David H. Koch’s Dirty Money"

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According to the Smithsonian Institution, it doesn’t matter how toxic your politics are or how dirty your money is, as long as you give the cash to them. Paleoanthropologist Rick Potts, director of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program and curator of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, defended pollution scion David H. Koch as a “philanthropist who is deeply interested in science.” David Koch’s oil and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries is one of the greatest contributors to global warming in the country. Koch also funds the largest network of climate-change-denying organizations and political operatives in the world. At an event promoting his new book, “What Does It Mean to Be Human?” Potts told ThinkProgress why the Smithsonian accepted $15 million from this climate-denial kingpin:

David Koch is a philanthropist, who is deeply interested in science. He’s funded the dinosaur halls, for example, in the American Museum of Natural History. He gave a lot of money to the Lincoln Center and its refurbishing. He has a lot of interest in human evolution that goes back to about thirty or forty years. And so, uh, as is true with all Smithsonian policy, our donors have no control over the content of our science or scholarship of our exhibits. And the same is true in this case. We feel very grateful for David Koch’s contributions to helping, I hope, the American public and us being able to bring science to them.

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Koch, the ninth richest man in the United States, has distributed a tiny fraction of his wealth to greenwash his image, putting his name on cancer research centers (Koch had prostate cancer) and ballet halls (Koch enjoys watching the “beautiful girls“). However, as Lee Fang writes, “none of Koch’s right-wing fronts bear his name.” His propaganda operation Americans for Prosperity, for example, scares Americans about President Obama’s “radical global warming agenda” and claims health care reform is like Adolf Hitler’s “final solution.”

After Potts praised Koch’s money, ThinkProgress asked if the Smithsonian is greenwashing his record by accepting his money. “No,” Potts replied, “we find no contradiction in what we’ve done.”

Transcript:

THINKPROGRESSS: Dr. Potts, in 2008 you said, referring to manmade climate change, “Humans are pulling on the strings that in the past.” Why did you and the Smithsonian accept $15 million from David Koch, whose oil and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries is one of the greatest contributors to global warming in the country, and David Koch also funds the largest network of climate-change-denying organizations and political operatives in the world?

POTTS: David Koch is a philanthropist, who is deeply interested in science. He’s funded the dinosaur halls, for example, in the American Museum of Natural History. He gave a lot of money to the Lincoln Center and its refurbishing. He has a lot of interest in human evolution that goes back to about thirty or forty years. And so, uh, as is true with all Smithsonian policy, our donors have no control over the content of our science or scholarship of our exhibits. And the same is true in this case. We feel very grateful for David Koch’s contributions to helping, I hope, the American public and us being able to bring science to them.

TP: Don’t you think you’re greenwashing his record by accepting his money?

A: No, we find no contradiction in what we’ve done. Thank you.

Update

At Climate Progress, Dr. Joseph Romm reveals that “the Smithsonian downplays or ignores the risks posed by human-caused climate change in a number of exhibits,” the worst being the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins:

Two things are clear if you visit America’s leading “science museum” — the National Museum of Natural History. First, the Smithsonian downplays or ignores the risks posed by human-caused climate change in a number of exhibits. Second, the worst of the exhibits is the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins.

The exhibit’s main theme is that extreme climate change in the past made humans very adaptable, an interesting theory based on limited data and lots of speculation. But its huge flaw is that it leaves visitors with the distinct impression that human-caused global warming is no big deal — even though our understanding of the grave threat posed by that warming is based on far, far more research and data.

‹ Energy and Global Warming News for April 1: US fuel rules spur hybrids, auto engine efficiency — “biggest step the U.S. government has ever taken” to cut CO2

Must-see video: Polluter-funded Smithsonian exhibit whitewashes danger of human-caused climate change ›

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