Climate

New Yorker exposes Koch brothers along with their greenwashing and whitewashing Smithsonian exhibit

Yesterday, the New Yorker published a devastating investigative piece by Jane Mayer that exposes the Koch family’s efforts to put together the Tea Party movement and much of the modern right-wing infrastructure.  It builds off the original reporting conducted by ThinkProgress, some of which I’ve reposted here (see “From promoting acid rain to climate denial — over 20 years of David Koch’s polluter front groups”).

It also builds off a joint effort by TP and Climate Progress to investigate David Koch’s funding of a deeply flawed Smithsonian Institute exhibit (see “Must-see video — Polluter-funded Smithsonian exhibit whitewashes danger of human-caused climate change:  Koch money and dubious displays put credibility of entire museum and science staff on the line”).

Mayer interviewed me and the fact checker followed up. Indeed, this piece is doubly devastating because the New Yorker remains one of the few major magazines that still fact checks line by line.  The whole piece is worth reading.  The end focuses on the Smithsonian story:

The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, is a multimedia exploration of the theory that mankind evolved in response to climate change. At the main entrance, viewers are confronted with a giant graph charting the Earth’s temperature over the past ten million years, which notes that it is far cooler now than it was ten thousand years ago. Overhead, the text reads, “HUMANS EVOLVED IN RESPONSE TO A CHANGING WORLD.” The message, as amplified by the exhibit’s Web site, is that “key human adaptations evolved in response to environmental instability.” Only at the end of the exhibit, under the headline “OUR SURVIVAL CHALLENGE,” is it noted that levels of carbon dioxide are higher now than they have ever been, and that they are projected to increase dramatically in the next century. No cause is given for this development; no mention is made of any possible role played by fossil fuels. The exhibit makes it seem part of a natural continuum. The accompanying text says, “During the period in which humans evolved, Earth’s temperature and the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere fluctuated together.” An interactive game in the exhibit suggests that humans will continue to adapt to climate change in the future. People may build “underground cities,” developing “short, compact bodies” or “curved spines,” so that “moving around in tight spaces will be no problem.”

Such ideas uncannily echo the Koch message. The company’s January newsletter to employees, for instance, argues that “fluctuations in the earth’s climate predate humanity,” and concludes, “Since we can’t control Mother Nature, let’s figure out how to get along with her changes.” Joseph Romm, a physicist who runs the Web site ClimateProgress.org, is infuriated by the Smithsonian’s presentation. “The whole exhibit whitewashes the modern climate issue,” he said. “I think the Kochs wanted to be seen as some sort of high-minded company, associated with the greatest natural-history and science museum in the country. But the truth is, the exhibit is underwritten by big-time polluters, who are underground funders of action to stop efforts to deal with this threat to humanity. I think the Smithsonian should have drawn the line.”

Cristian Samper, the museum’s director, said that the exhibit is not about climate change, and described Koch as “one of the best donors we’ve had, in my tenure here, because he’s very interested in the content, but completely hands off.” He noted, “I don’t know all the details of his involvement in other issues.”

The Kochs have long depended on the public’s not knowing all the details about them. They have been content to operate what David Koch has called “the largest company that you’ve never heard of.” But with the growing prominence of the Tea Party, and with increased awareness of the Kochs’ ties to the movement, the brothers may find it harder to deflect scrutiny. Recently, President Obama took aim at the Kochs’ political network. Speaking at a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser, in Austin, he warned supporters that the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Citizens United case””which struck down laws prohibiting direct corporate spending on campaigns””had made it even easier for big companies to hide behind “groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity.” Obama said, “They don’t have to say who, exactly, Americans for Prosperity are. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation”””or even, he added, “a big oil company.”

Precisely.

Shining the light on the polluters who hide under rocks while funding multiple efforts to disinform the public is what Climate Progress and TP are all about (see “Report: Koch Industries outspends Exxon Mobil on climate and clean energy disinformation“).

In the rest of this post, I’ll excerpt the April expose.

UPDATE (2014): Two things are clear if you visit America’s leading “science museum” — the National Museum of Natural History.  First, the Smithsonian has a very impressive new exhibit called the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. Second, that exhibit downplays or ignores the risks posed by human-caused climate change in a number of its displays.

Yes, the Smithsonian took $15 million from a billionaire polluter — who is an even bigger funder of disinformation on climate science than Exxon Mobil — to fund a misleading exhibit on evolution and climate change. See also the new Think Progress post “A ‘Grateful’ Smithsonian Denies Greenwashing ‘Philanthropist’ David H. Koch’s Dirty Money.”

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 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.

This embarrassing episode in the Smithsonian’s history raises serious questions about how big polluters may be pursuing yet another strategy to influence how climate science is communicated to the public (see “Can Big Oil buy a watered-down climate exhibit at the London Science Museum?“)

Let’s start with a video that Lee Fang of Think Progress shot of some key exhibit displays, narrated by me:

[Okay, I’m no David Attenborough, but then, this isn’t my exhibit or the BBC’s Life on Earth.]

Let me expand and clarify the points I made in that video.

The exhibit’s major intellectual failing is that it does not distinguish between 1) the evolution of small populations of tens (to perhaps hundreds) of thousands of humans and pre-humans over hundreds of thousands of years to relatively slow, natural climate changes and 2) the completely different challenge we have today: The ability of modern civilization — nearly 7 billion people, going up to 10 billion — to deal with rapid, human-caused climate change over a period of several decades (and ultimately much longer).

The exhibit fails to make clear that while small populations of homo “sapiens” evolved over hundreds of thousands of years of fluctuating climate, the rapid population growth of human civilization occurred during a time of relatively stable climate.

Let’s be clear here. Not only has the atmospheric concentration of CO2 — the principal human-generated greenhouse gas — risen sharply in recent decades, it has risen at a rate that is unprecedented in the past million years (see “Humans boosting CO2 14,000 times faster than nature, overwhelming slow negative feedbacks“). As the author of 2008 study on this subject noted, “the average change in the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide over the last 600,000 years has been just 22 parts per million by volume.” Humans have run up CO2 levels 100 ppm over the last two centuries. The author added, “Right now we have put the system entirely out of equilibrium.

Even another 100 ppm change could be devastating to the billions of people who have settled in places based on current sea levels and fresh water from inland glaciers and relatively consistent levels of soil moisture and precipitation (see Science: CO2 levels haven’t been this high for 15 million years, when it was 5° to 10°F warmer and seas were 75 to 120 feet higher — “We have shown that this dramatic rise in sea level is associated with an increase in CO2 levels of about 100 ppm”) — a study based on the exact same kind of paleoclimate reconstruction the entire Smithsonian exhibit is based on).

Worse, we’re poised to run CO2 levels up another 500 ppm this century if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path! (see M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F and U.S. media largely ignores latest warning from climate scientists: “Recent observations confirm … the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised” — 1000 ppm).

But you’d never know any of that from the Smithsonian exhibit. The key figure they use as the basis of their intellectual case, which you can see in the video in two locations, is this reconstruction (from “Survival of the Adaptable,” click to enlarge) :

Caption: “Earth’s Changing Climate and Human Evolution: Earth’s climate has fluctuated between warm and cool over the past ten million years. The ratio of two oxygen isotopes, as measured in cores drilled from the ocean bottom, ranges from about 2.5 to 5.0 parts per million. This measure reflects both worldwide ocean temperature and the amount of glacial ice. Particularly dramatic fluctuations marked the six-million-year period of human evolution.”

Note that in this view, modern humans, who developed in the last couple hundred thousand years, were experiencing fluctuations of 10°C in the swings in and out of the Ice Ages. But on the scale of that figure, the last 10,500 years (“plant and animal domestication,” i.e modern civilization) would be virtually a flat line.

UPDATE (10/14): A 2013 study by Marcott et al. in Science found that recent warming is “amazing and atypical” — and poised to destroy the stable climate that enabled civilization. It was the source of most of the data in this popular, jaw-dropping graph:

Temperature change

Temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013) plus projected warming this century on humanity’s current emissions path (in red, via recent literature).

Pretty bloody stable (until recently) on the scale of the Smithsonian chart.

UPDATE (10/14): Real Climate has posted a summary and FAQ by Shaun Marcott and colleagues, which notes, “Our view is that the results of the paper will stand the test of time, particularly regarding the small global temperature variations in the Holocene. If anything, early Holocene warmth might be overestimated in this study.” The main, stunning conclusion we can draw from the paper is that the rate of warming since 1900 is 50 times greater than the rate of cooling in the previous 5000 years, which undermines the whole notion of adaptation.

It is this stable climate that has coincided with rapid population growth. Here is a chart from the Smithsonian’s exhibit website:

World population growth. Image courtesy of Karen Carr Studio.

Note: It would have been nice for the Smithsonian to tell readers that the chart did not have a linear scale for time.

Here is a better graph from Wikipedia in which time has a linear scale but population is plotted logarithmically:

world population

The point is, natural “extreme climate shifts” may have been terrific for making humans adaptable, but a relatively stable climate over the last 10,000 years or so is what enabled modern civilization and rapid population growth.

The exhibit did have a couple of displays aimed at future climate change, but none of them lays out the threat posed by the rapid climate change we now face. The single strongest statement is one panel that said:

The level of CO2 today is the highest since our species evolved. The projected increase over the next century is more than twice that of any time in the past 6 million years and suggests a long-term sea level rise of 6.4 m (21 ft).

The Smithsonian never gives a time frame for sea level rise, and, of course, the key fact in that sentence is not accurate. The projected increase of CO2 emissions just in the first half of this century suggests a long-term sea level rise of 75 to 120 feet, as a major 2009 Science article explains. And 2 years ago James Hansen et al. argued that projected increase of CO2 emissions risks an ice-free planet:

We infer from the Cenozoic data that CO2 was the dominant Cenozoic forcing, that CO2 was only ~450 ppm when Antarctica glaciated, and that glaciation is reversible.

That is, if we stabilize at 450 ppm (or higher) we risk returning the planet to conditions when it was largely ice free, when sea levels were higher by 70 meters — more than 200 feet!

If the overall exhibit were better, this might not be a big deal. But given how lame the whole exhibit is, this error is another black eye.

One of the key displays in the section about the present and future is in the video, a nonsensical interactive video which lets visitors create a “future human” that evolves over millions of years to a variety of changing conditions including a new ice age or living in crowded underground cities because of global warming or even — I kid you not — a future Earth that “smells.”

How much does the exhibit downplay the impact of human-caused emissions? In the part of the exhibit about the present and the future, there is a display that says “Benefits and Costs of our success.” You can see the text online here (near the bottom of the page):

Costs

By settling down and producing our own food, we created:

—piles of waste that form natural breeding grounds for contagious diseases;

—large concentrations of people, enabling diseases to spread and become epidemics;

—domesticated landscapes that displace wild habitats;

—loss of wild species that depend on natural habitats.

Where is the cost: “huge emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases that threaten rapid climate change and serious consequences for billions of people”? This is an exhibit about climate change, after all.

Or how about “Oceans are acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred.”

When climate change is very abrupt, it does have consequences. The online exhibit has a timeline that notes:

Extinction1

The extreme climate change 74,000 years ago — which is still a subject of much scientific debate — appears to have been driven by a massive volcano that led to a pretty rapid change in temperatures.

So yes, the Smithsonian is pointing out that an unusual episode of extreme climate change nearly wiped out the human race, but essentially ignores the threat posed by comparably extreme climate change today.

If this were just another Smithsonian exhibit, I’d call it a “grave disappointment” and “seriously flawed.” But since it was primarily funded by the billionaire polluter David Koch, who is founder of a vast network of conservative organizations that deny the threat of global warming — with overall funding of disinformers that now exceeds Exxon Mobil the exhibit puts the credibility of the entire Museum of Natural History and science staff on the line.

Either the exhibit should be reworked or they should give Koch’s money back so as not to taint this exhibit. Or both.

Think Progress just posted:

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.”

Potts told ThinkProgress why the Smithsonian accepted $15 million from this climate-denial kingpin [video here]:

“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.”

For related background, which suggests Koch knew exactly what kind of science he was buying from the Smithsonian, see the Yglesias post, “David Koch, Climate Change, and Human Evolution.”

NOTE: This post has been updated.

87 Responses to New Yorker exposes Koch brothers along with their greenwashing and whitewashing Smithsonian exhibit

  1. Prokaryotes says:

    The climate timeline “dwarfs” the anthropogenic intake from the recent 250 years – thus fails to deliver the unprecedented development from burning fossil energy. A good visualization would show the “hockey stick”. I guess extreme weather and habitat lose – species survival and mass extinction is presented in the same incompetent way.

    People will remember “Koch” as a name which made the climate catastrophe possible in the first place.

  2. Preeem says:

    Yes, humans are adaptable, and evolution will occur. No one is disputing that. The only thing though… People are going to die. Millions, billions, who knows? And we might have to go back on some tiny little details of civilisation, like safety, maternal health, food supply, not being contaminated by water bacteria before the age of 3…
    Surely it could be called a big fucking deal, no?

    It’s like all that “market will readjust” stuff. Yes, sure, but in what timescale? In the meantime, how many people go without food/shelter/jobs? It’s always the rub in those well constructed theories.

  3. Colorado Bob says:

    Clearly if we grow gills and learn the breath smoke everything will be okey dokey.

  4. Leif says:

    “People may build “underground cities,” developing “short, compact bodies” or “curved spines,” so that “moving around in tight spaces will be no problem.””

    Oh great we get to evolve into moles. The Problem is, we got to do that “evolving” PDQ. How many of you folks out their have kids that fit the “mole” description? You might want to start net working to speed up the process. Smarts are not a requirement, a taste for worms is a definite advantage.

    I am puzzled however, I did not think “Evolution” was a big card in fundamentalist thinking.

  5. Colorado Bob says:

    As Jared Diamond’s student said of Easter Island, ” I wonder what they were thinking when they cut down the last tree ? “

  6. Colorado Bob says:

    “People may build “underground cities,” developing “short, compact bodies” or “curved spines,” so that “moving around in tight spaces will be no problem.””

    I believe these guys are called “Morlocks”.

    http://tiny.cc/5v7g5

  7. David Smith says:

    There was a quote in the acticle by one of the brothers, something like, “I’m going to take down the government.” Doesn’t that make him a threat to national security; a powerful, incredibly wealthy person, activist, who views that part of his job is to “govern”, and spends 100’s of millions of dollars to subvert the political process to his own ends?

    Am I reading this wrong? Treason anyone?

  8. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    If donors have no control over exhibits, then how did this one end up reflecting a message that Koch would want?

    The whole evolution message is disturbing too. That’s not exactly a comforting thought when you know evolution takes millions of years and may involve a bottleneck or two where 99% of the population goes extinct (not to mention the extinction of many other species).

  9. Leland Palmer says:

    The New Yorker article over and over again makes the point that Koch funding for climate denial dwarfs ExxonMobil funding.

    But there is a family of conservative charitable foundations that fund in apparent coordination with ExxonMobil, including the Scaife and Bradley foundations.

    I’m not sure whether ExxonMobil funds less than Koch, or is just better at concealing their funding through what are officially disconnected sources.

    I also wonder if the Koch brothers are doing the heavy lifting because Koch Industries is a privately owned corporation, while ExxonMobil is a publicly traded corporation. The Koch brothers have more ability to fund the denier cause, and are more resistant to public pressure, because they outright own their own corporation.

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    Aid agency warns of ‘double disaster’ for Niger

    Oxfam issued its warning as nearly eight million people, or half the population, are already facing hunger because of failed harvests.

    Now more than 100,000 people have been left homeless after heavy rains washed away their homes earlier this month, according to the United Nations.

    Floods have destroyed crops, and thousands of animals have drowned.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11066959

  11. duane Smith says:

    The Kochs went to MIT.

  12. Preeem says:

    “Oxfam issued its warning as nearly eight million people, or half the population, are already facing hunger because of failed harvests.”

    Following the brilliant line of reasoning from Koch et al, their only hope is to evovle beyond the need for food. Know how it’s called? Dying off…

  13. Rob Honeycutt says:

    It all sounds like a Libertarian version of evolution. Now it’s self correcting populations?

    The big part that is being omitted is (and this is what the Smithsonian should be called to task on) is there is a mid-point to the story. Yes, humans did evolve in response to changes in climate and that may be what is in the cards again. But those evolutionary changes involves suffering. Broad communities of previous humans dying off. Starvation. Death. Utter catastrophe from the perspective of those at the time.

    On our current CO2 emissions path we could be looking at the very same thing. But suffering on a scale that the planet rarely sees. And this time it’s not the Siberian Traps or an asteroid hitting in the Yucatan peninsula. This time WE are the ones setting the stage for our own collapse. And David Koch seems perfectly pleased propel us in that direction.

  14. Bill Logan says:

    Koch Industries provides these products, either directly or through Ga. Pacific :Brawny paper towels, all Dixie Cups products, Georgia Pacific lumber, Stainmaster Carpets, Lycra, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern, Soft n’Gentle, Mardi Gras, Vanity Fair, Zee napkins. According to GP’s website“ Their European brands include Lotus®, Colhogar®, Delica®, Tenderly® and the Demak’Up® brand of facial cleansing products”.

    Its time to boycott.

  15. Mike Roddy says:

    I lived in Arlington for a few years around junior high age, when my dad was fighting the Joint Chiefs at the Pentagon. My fondest memory was when he used to take us to the Smithsonian- a vast and endlessly fascinating place.

    It is really disheartening that our national museum would engage in such an obvious sellout. That says more than what the Kochs did- we already know they are psychopaths, and permanantly shamed themselves and Jobbo many years ago. Giving money to museums does not redeem them in the least, and is like icing on a turd.

    You kind of expect politicians to be bought, but our national museum? What’s next, the Surgeon General or EPA? Oh, I forgot, they’ve already been working on that.

    Between now and 2100, it will first get hotter than it was 130,000 years ago, than 400,000 years ago, and finally hotter than it’s ever been since humans appeared. We are not adapted to this level of heat and humidity, and most will die.

    The species will survive, sue to our technical ingenuity, but it will be on a barren planet, dominated by microbes and jellyfish. Most mammals and birds will be long gone, through habitat destruction and desperate human predation. It will be a life worth living, but barely.

  16. PeterW says:

    This is probably the best thing I’ve read in the press in quite some time. It’s definitely worth the time.

    It seems very ironic that the Tea Party types seem to be paranoid about the government controlling their lives but seem oblivious to the fact that they’re being manipulated/controlled by the billionaire Koch brothers. I wonder what will happen if these Koch puppets ever figure it out? Hopefully there will be a tremendous backlash.

  17. Mike Roddy says:

    Leif, #4, good one! I needed a laugh this morning. And Bill Logan, #13, I agree, a boycott is called for. Let’s see if the green NGO’s step up, for once.

  18. Wit'sEnd says:

    Well, the scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center who take funding from HSBC know which side their bread is buttered, too: http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2010/04/serc-sucks.html

  19. Sasparilla says:

    A staggering article by Jane Mayer, do yourself a favor and read the whole thing, its amazing.

    These two oil billionaires (2nd only to Bill Gates & Warren Buffet in the US) actually want to achieve libertarian (not modest ones either) ends (they had one of them run as the Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate against Ronald Reagan / Jimmy Carter in 1980 so they’d have unlimited funds). Since that didn’t work, they decided that they’d need to rework the political system from the inside – warping the Republican wing towards their libertarian goals and have been remarkably successful. They’d need to “educate” the public (for foot soldiers, long term) into seeing their vision, via think tanks, huge grants to law schools and colleges. They give alot with strings attached for the results they want.

    Cato Institute, these are the guys that started it, all the way to the Tea Party organization, these are the guys and on and on and on. They have spent far more money organizing and funding the fight for denying climate change than Exxon could dream of.

    They’ve done all this through front organizations so that they’re fingerprints aren’t directly on things. They do the good publicity stuff (donations to art institutes directly).

    Its a long article, but its amazing. They want no taxes, no social security, no regulation…and political operatives from both the right and the left say they are in a class of their own.

    As an old saying says “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” and these guys need alot of sunlight shown on them and what they’ve been doing in the shadows.

  20. Colorado Bob says:

    A series of satellite photographs conveys the epic scale of the floods sweeping through Pakistan, leaving millions homeless and the world aghast at an extreme weather disaster that experts consider the new normal.

    Above at left is the central Pakistan city of Hyderabad on July 31. At right is the city on August 19, as floodwater swelled the Indus River. In coming days the water will reach the coast, joining tidal waters and inundating the floodplain. An estimated four million people are already homeless, and millions more at risk of disease. Agriculture is disrupted and a society thrown into disarray.

    As University of Michigan atmospheric scientist Ricky Rood wrote on the Weather Underground blog, “What is happening in Pakistan cannot be described in a single word – like disaster or catastrophe. We are watching a combination of climate, weather, population, societal capacity, and geopolitics whose scope and ramifications are far beyond a “historic flood.”

    Read More http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/08/pakistan-flood-pictures/#ixzz0xXblvfi5

  21. Jeff Green says:

    I just wrote to the Smithsonian at the contact information below.

    http://americanhistory.si.edu/about/contactfaq.cfm

    The speed of evolution of human beings is way far slower than the speed of adaptation needed to global warming. I understand pleasing someone who is giving the money. If humans live David Koch’s way of thinking, we will have 10 degree F increase by 2100 and 20 degree F increase in the artic. I strongly suggest that you protect your scientific integrity over the money.

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/08/24/new-yorker-koch-brothers-smithsonian-tea-party/#more-32038

  22. Leif says:

    “The species will survive, [d]ue to our technical ingenuity, but it will be on a barren planet, dominated by microbes and jellyfish. Most mammals and birds will be long gone, through habitat destruction and desperate human predation. It will be a life worth living, but barely.” States Mike Roddy, @ 14.

    Even the bottom of a s**t house is utopia to some life forms. Perhaps the Koch Brothers have some inside information that tells them that their gene pool will allow their progeny to look at a pile of excrement and rejoice, “This is indeed heaven on earth.” Perhaps those lucky survivors can even roll up little dung balls and build a church and give thanks to the supreme overlords that made it all possible.

    Amen…

  23. Colorado Bob says:

    Last winter when the earth moved in Haiti , I went looking for a way to help on behalf of some friends I have online. We came across ShelterBox . They are by far one of the best NGOs working in the world today . Since that time our site has raised nearly $77,000.00 for them . Every nickle donated on this platform goes straight to their home in Cornwall, UK. If you can help please do so :

    http://www.justgiving.com/Colorado-Bob

    ShelterBox ups aid to flood-hit Pakistan

    http://www.shelterbox.org/news.php?id=420

  24. catman306 says:

    Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has some review of a Science climate related piece. Stuart Staniford has problems with the unnamed Science article about the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data.

    http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/08/playing-fair-climate-science

  25. PurpleOzone says:

    Haven’t the geneticists identified a near extinction in human population? A bottleneck?

    Anthropologists have found civilizations that collapsed, due to weather changes.

    Change, at best, is stress. Ask the Pakistanis how they feel about the exciting challenge of adapting to weather destruction.

  26. Ric Merritt says:

    I entirely agree, humans are very adaptable. A few hundred thousand could repopulate and rebuild after just about anything. Heck, you might get away with a few hundred, or a few dozen.

    So long as you don’t care about the other several billion who don’t make it, or any cultural features dropped along the way, you’re fine. Bring it on!

  27. Michael Tucker says:

    The quislings Samper and Potts were bought and paid for by Koch for this joke that masquerades as science. They cannot say enough about how generous he has been with his money. I am completely disgusted with the Smithsonian and it is shameful that they have so cheerfully sacrificed their reputation and integrity to satisfy the propaganda interests of the Koch family.

  28. Colorado Bob says:

    Nova is silent about climate change. Guess who underwrites them as well.

  29. Glenn Magus Harvey says:

    Having been to MIT myself, I am very ashamed by Mr. Koch’s actions.

  30. robert says:

    “It is far cooler now than it was ten thousand years ago … ” ?!? Says which data set? This is in a Smithsonian exhibit?

  31. catman306 says:

    Mike Roddy, you think that the last 200,000 humans are living on technical ingenuity. I think that by that point humans are surviving by their ability to scavenge the necessities of life from what’s left behind. But, since we will leave so much behind, scavenging can go on for millennia. But the warming can continue until the atmosphere no longer supports mammalian life. That atmospheric change can easily be a part of the Extinction we’ve entered into.

    The Koch brothers are merely doing their part to insure that all this goes smoothly. They’ve made the List.

  32. Edward says:

    Climate changes in the past certainly did drive evolution, and this climate change is driving evolution. But evolution always involves mass death and the possibility or probability of extinction if it is Nature that is running it. There is absolutely NO guarantee that Homo Sap will survive this very rapid and extreme climate change. There is no guarantee that the Koch family would be among the survivors, if any. Nature is so unnecessarily brutal in the process of evolution, killing huge numbers with very little selectivity.

  33. mattlant says:

    I think when we make comparisons to past climate change and how our ancestors adapted, we need to also look at the logistics of that adaptation.

    Back when we were living in hunter/gatherer societies of a few hundred people, what was out infrastructure. A few mud huts, a fire pit, and that is about it. So when it was time to move on, was a big deal? No, a few huts needed to be rebuilt. It was VERY easy to adapt in that sense.

    But when we compare today’s society, with cities with millions of people, it cannot even compare. How could we possibly adapt without some magic unknown technology. We have huge massive infrastructures that are impossible to rebuild in the short time that this current change in climate provides us. Does anyone think that a city like Las Vegas when the temp rises and they run out of water are just going to be able to move and build new huts somewhere north?

    It is so rediculous for anyone to compare climate change now to past climate change, even if past climate change happened as fast as it is now, which it isnt.

    The only chance we have (on business-as-usual scenario) is that mysterious magic technology that has yet to be invented. Thats a huge risk that i dont think anyone should be willing to make.

  34. Gary says:

    It happened on Nova too!! I was watching the human evolution series, and there was a part in there where they talked about the evolving climate and human adaption – read near extinction – and I thought to myself “they made climate change sound fun, a test of our adaption!” – of course, you know who funds Nova don’t you? DHK.

  35. Gary says:

    Sorry should say “adaptation”.

  36. Meghan says:

    talk about a play on words!
    Climate Science Is Getting Koch-Blocked
    http://www.good.is/post/climate-science-is-getting-koch-blocked/

  37. PurpleOzone says:

    The covert manipulation of the politics is very concerning. The Maine Tea Party took over the Republican party this year and included on its platform a plank to investigate climate scientists. Now why would a bunch of Maniacs come up with that for a good idea? What climate scientists in Maine are they thinking of investigating?

    Then Cuccinelli “investigates” the work Dr. Mann did when he was in Virginia years ago. Fred Singer writes letter after letter to Virginia papers announcing his support of the investigation. What support did he give? Who provided Cuccinelli’s office with all that nonsense claiming to be science? (The Union of Concerned Scientists tore apart the legal brief Cucc filed, exposing many scientific errors).

    The Koch brothers make the tobacco industry look tame.

  38. Anna Haynes says:

    > “The exhibit fails to make clear that… the rapid population growth of human civilization occurred during a time of relatively stable climate.”

    As I recall, the exhibit made *zero* mention of this (that human civilization developed during an unusually stable climate).

  39. Anna Haynes says:

    Question about the exhibit, Joe (and others) –

    I saw the exhibit last spring, & took photos ( dropio.com/SIPanels ) of one wall of the “humans are affecting the world” nook (which is off the main exhibit hall); this wall had the “rising co2 levels” graph/panel on it. This panel contained pretty much all of the “danger will robinson” part of the entire exhibit, in roughly two linear inches at the rightmost edge of the graph (see it at SI_2ndPanel.png ).

    Not very impressive. I hung out there for an hour or two, talking to the occasional people who looked at it; and what seemed to strike them most was its “natural cycles” aspect.

    Now, what I’m curious about, is the 2 panels to the right of this one, on the wall (see them at SI_4panels.png ) – they didn’t seem to belong there.
    “You are an ecosystem”? what does that have to do with how humans are changing the world? And the “human silhouettes containing cities” had no educational value & was basically a duplicate, there was another such image elsewhere in the nook.

    i.e. it looked as though these two panels were an afterthought – or were stuck in after others deemed too controversial were removed.

    I asked the woman who’d been involved in the exhibit design about them; she told me that these 2 panels were meant to be dynamic ones & that they’d be changed over time.

    (Have they changed?)
    I was hoping to get the inside scoop on what had happened – the cover story that the Kochs didn’t have an influence is ludicrous – but was discouraged (by someone who I respect) from filing a FOIA request, and never got anyone from SI to talk to me, who’d level with me about what happened.

    Grrrr. It’s like these people don’t have children.

    It might be worth filing a FOIA request to see the initial design drawings, & see what was to appear on these two panels. But I don’t know how to word it well, and an ineffectual one just wastes our money.
    What should I do?
    (I already know all the things that *don’t* help; that list keeps growing.)

  40. Anna Haynes says:

    Also, FWIW, Potts wrote a companion book to the exhibit that’s just as bad – treating GHG emissions implicitly as “oh dear, it can’t be helped, we’ll just have to adjust to whatever happens”

  41. Dan B says:

    The Koch brothers’ father, Fred, founder of Koch Industries, was a co-founder of the John Birch Society.

    The Tea Party was a trial balloon that accidentally turned into a “movement” on the second attempt. The same nativist, us-vs-the-evil-them mentality is at the core of nearly all they do.

    They disparage people of color and low income people. At the same time they’re afraid of a world in which “white wealthy” people are a minority. I look out my window at my typical city neighborhood – 6 white people on the block (about 6%), with lotsa love, kids playing, cultural festivals twice a month, and wonder what the Koch’s have to fear.

  42. Anna Haynes says:

    OK, here’s an idea:

    Those two “dynamic” panels – what would we put on them?
    And how would we repurpose the mile-wide “changing world” display that hits visitors in the face, if they come in the back entrance?

    Let’s see what we can come up with. And then get them to replace the vapid ones with ours.

    It’s our Institution. If they want to change the domain to a .com, fine – we could use the tax cut. But if it’s a .edu, it needs to act like one.

  43. Wit'sEnd says:

    As far as human civilization developing during a period of a relatively stable climate, it also developed in a time of vast, plentiful resources. Those resources are running out, we have eaten them, destroyed them, polluted them etc.

    Whoever survives the extreme weather events is going to have a very hard time finding food, because the food chain in the ocean is being destroyed with warming and acidification, and the food chain on the land is being destroyed with drought and ozone.

    The days when you could wander around and pick bushels of nuts and fruits, and shoot a bison or two, are over forever.

  44. mike roddy says:

    Anna Haynes,

    I admire your efforts to do something on the ground about the outrageous exhibit at the Smithsonian. I don’t think it’s ours, any more than Congress is. I would love to be proven wrong, and only wiah I lived close enough to help.

  45. fj2 says:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer

    Must go viral:

    Koch Industries nightmare machine corrupts American governance blocking action on rapidly accelerating environmental devastation caused by climate change as disclosed in

    “Covert Operations,” Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, August 30, 2010

  46. Koch Industries says:

    Koch Industries submitted extensive facts and background information to the magazine for this article, but this did not change the publication’s negative, unbalanced tone and agenda. The story dredges up issues resolved long ago and mischaracterizes our business philosophy and principles, our practices and performance record, and the education efforts and policies we support. Accurate information on many of the issues from this and other recent media and Internet discussion items can be found at http://bit.ly/kochfactcheck.

  47. fj2 says:

    Koch Industries — arts, media, political corruption, etc. — definitely following the well-worn footsteps of tobacco giant Philip Morris but on a much larger scale.

    Civilization’s tobacco dependency will kill one billion people by 2050 AD.

    Civilization’s automobile dependency will destroy it.

  48. fj2 says:

    48. Koch Industries,

    Koch Industries’ standing Smithsonian exhibition is blatant demonstration of profound ongoing corruption and most recent demonstration of the continuing big lie.

  49. David Smith says:

    Koch Industries @ #48 – Speak to the political activism by the brothers outlined in the New Yorker Magazine article. This was not covered at Kochfactcheck. While everyone should be active politically, the extreme nature of the Koches efforts and it’s secretiveness seems to violate basic principles of American Democracy and Constitution.

  50. fj2 says:

    #48 Koch Industries,

    Based on extraordinary grievous wrongs committed by Koch Industries, anything less than total commitment in the battle against accelerating environmental devastation and climate change is insufficient.

  51. Thank you very much for posting this important paper.

    I believe there is or will be a counter-movement to the Koch brothers!
    The Smithsonian might start to evaluate money vs. reputation and truths.

  52. Mike Roddy says:

    Koch Industries, #48:

    Thanks for contributing, and I hope you show up here more often. A personal comment or two from Charles or David would be helpful, since your firm’s pattern is to operate in the shadows, and to finance far right and anti science “think tanks” and websites. Since I have a Deerfield connection, I believe that the Kochs are quite aware of the serious dangers of global warming, and have made the calculation that their bankrolls are more important than the death and suffering of billions of people. Evil is their condition, not stupidity.

    Surely you are aware of the massive problems with the tar sands project, and also realize that there is no way to make that operation non CO2 intensive, or avoid its destruction of watersheds and forests. You are also aware of the business philosophy of Georgia Pacific, which is to clearcut on short rotations, and turn forests into biologically simplified fiber farms. And talk on the Koch website about “balance” and honest analysis on the subject of climate change presumes that scientific researchers are dishonest, a common theme in all of your efforts and publications.

    One should be very careful about making moral accusations against anyone, since all humans have good in them. In the case of Charles and David Koch, the quality of basic human goodness and decency is nonexistent. They are monsters, and it won’t require the history of the rest of this century to prove it.

  53. PeterW says:

    #48 Koch Industries, It’s a fact that you have funded organizations whose main purposes are to mislead the public to benefit your bottom line. The people who read this blog are quite aware of your tactics and your warped view of reality. Your PR spin in the comment section here and on your Facts page does not invalidate this.

  54. Krotch Industries put that same comment on my blog and this what I replied?

    Ok, you made your salary today with this comment. And I am sure that the NewYorkers’ lawyers went over every word of this article before it was published.

    Your business philosophy is, among other things, to let the world burn and to do everything legal (and perhaps even extra-legally) to control a democratic government to suit your own narrow ends.

    Your firm is beyond immoral.

  55. No question mark intended in the above comment — key board is switching between English and Portuguese, sorry.

  56. Chris Winter says:

    Greenpeace provides a few incidents from Koch Industries’ environmental record.

    http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/polluterwatch/koch-industries/koch-industries-environmental/

    A related report lays bare how the Koch brothers have influenced the climate debate.

    http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/polluterwatch/koch-industries/

  57. Chris Winter says:

    This blog post has an interesting perspective.

    Smithsonian Dragged into Climate Denial Controversy

    http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/04/smithsonian-dragged-into-koch-industries-global-warming-controversy/

  58. I absolutely agree with comment 15 — it is time to boycott!

    Koch Industries provides these products, either directly or through Ga. Pacific :Brawny paper towels, all Dixie Cups products, Georgia Pacific lumber, Stainmaster Carpets, Lycra, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern, Soft n’Gentle, Mardi Gras, Vanity Fair, Zee napkins. According to GP’s website“ Their European brands include Lotus®, Colhogar®, Delica®, Tenderly® and the Demak’Up® brand of facial cleansing products”.

  59. Sam D says:

    I’m ashamed to say that they were in the same class (1962) as I was at MIT. We have a 50-year reunion coming up soon, but I’ll avoid any activity there to which they’ve given money. As Joseph Welch said of McCarthy: they have no decency – nor shame.

  60. Anna Haynes says:

    it is pronounced “coke”

    Re the triplepundit post (Chris Winter #59) –
    (“Ironically, the Smithsonian exhibit may have been designed to battle a different right-wing attack on science: the denial of evolutionary theory.”)

    Yes. PR principle #1 (which also serves to let the recipients rationalize their participation) – don’t come out *against* something, come out *for* something else.

  61. Anna Haynes says:

    Upon rumination, I think the Smithsonian board of directors should consider the mission of the institution and consider whether the actions of its current leadership have been aligned with this mission; if so, issue a statement to that effect; if not, get new leadership.

  62. Anna Haynes says:

    Sam D#61, on the Kochs & MIT reunion (“I’ll avoid any activity to which they’ve given money”) – please *don’t* avoid these activities; go, and spread the word.
    one suggestion: Make copies of the New Yorker piece, and hand them out.

  63. Anna Haynes says:

    The Smithsonian’s Mission (link):

    James Smithson’s Gift
    “I then bequeath the whole of my property…to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge…”

  64. Anna Haynes says:

    Joe, can you give a heads-up on this please?

    Seeking Climate Progress reader(s) in Connecticut, Mississippi Vermont, or parts of California (Sacramento or LA-31st dist) –

    Congressmembers from these states & CA districts are on the Smithsonian board –
    Three Senators – Thad Cochran, Christopher J. Dodd, Patrick J. Leahy
    Three Representatives – Xavier Becerra, Sam Johnson, Doris Matsui

    Can someone who’s among their constituents contact their rep & ask him/her to shine a light on what’s been going on under the Smithsonian roof?

    (CA district 5 (sac-area) congresswoman Doris Matsui, for one, says “climate change and global warming are two of the most perilous challenges facing America today” – and represents the people of Sacramento, a city that (IMO) will be devastated by climate change)

    [JR: I might do a post on the whole Board.]

  65. Anna Haynes says:

    Also relevant, and revealing, for understanding the Kochs and others of their stratum –

    Jonah Lehrer’s Frontal Cortex post The Psychology of Power
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/08/the-psychology-of-power/

    “While a little compassion might help us climb the social ladder, once we’re at the top we end up morphing into a very different kind of beast.
    “It’s an incredibly consistent effect”…”

  66. Anna Haynes says:

    > [JR: I might do a post on the whole Board.]

    IMO it’s counterproductive to be punitive right now if we can learn what happened (and ultimately correct it) by focusing on those who’d be receptive to sunlight. And Matsui really does fit the bill.

    (The SI Board’s rich-folk are pretty much a lost cause, for the psychology-of-power reasons noted above)

    Sun Tzu: always leave your opponent a way out
    (or words to that effect; with the caveat that this stuff is *not* my strong point)

  67. Wes Rolley says:

    I agree with Anna’s comments above and would also point out the long association between Charles Koch and the gentleman once known as the Libertarian Troubadour but now referred to as Congressman Rohrabacher. (CA 46) http://crazydana.blogspot.com/2008/04/figuring-out-dana.html

  68. Anna Haynes says:

    (…not that I know what you had in mind for the Board post)

  69. Anna Haynes says:

    Snippets of other Smithsonian news&info from the last few years –
    (urls de-linked to avoid getting stuck in moderation)

    Toned Down” Smithsonian Climate Change Exhibit is a Sign of the Times
    (“An exhibit about climate change in the Arctic on display from April to November of [2006] at the Smithsonian Institution was toned down so as not to anger Congress and thus endanger up to a billion dollars in taxpayer funding…”)
    globalwarmingisreal.com/blog/2007/05/27/toned-down-smithsonian-climate-change-exhibit-is-a-sign-of-the-times/

    “I remember them telling me there was an attempt to make sure there was nothing in there that would be upsetting to any politicians,” said John Calder, a lead climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who consulted on the project. “They’re not stupid. They don’t want to upset the people who pay them.”

    “”I think that any time taxpayer money is involved and any time there is an institution that has been created and maintained as a public trust . . . that institution has an obligation to be accountable to the public for how it’s conducting its business and how it’s expending the public money,” McDermott said, referring to the Smithsonian specifically.”

    Nathan Myhrvold (who we last saw in Levitt & Dubner’s Global Cooling chapter) has also sponsored Smithsonian research (for T. Rex)

    usatoday.com/tech/science/columnist/vergano/2010-03-19-smithsonian-human-origins_N.htm
    “David Koch was not involved in any way in the development or review of content of any aspect of the human origins exhibition, the human origins initiative or any other Smithsonian Natural History Museum program. Donors do not have input into the content of exhibitions,” said museum spokesman Randall Kremer, by email.
    “More than 100 scientists and educators (from 48 countries) took part in planning the exhibition,” Potts says. “All we want to do is showcase and demonstrate the changes that took place over time. We can’t put anyone’s philosophy on the wall.”

    “…the Smithsonian head’s splurge on home and office remodeling using $2 million in institution funds.
    From the Fall 2008 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 21.
    rcfp.org/newsitems/index.php?i=7221

    “James Grimaldi, an investigative reporter at The Post, … ran into a critical problem with the policy — [then-Smithsonian Secretary Larry] Small, as the person in charge, could refuse to release the records.
    And unlike a traditional FOIA request, Grimaldi could not turn around and sue over the records when the Smithsonian, or any quasi-governmental entity, denied a request.
    That lack of an enforcement mechanism is the driving force behind many efforts over time to place different entities under FOIA…”

    Researchers Seek Funding to Study How Climate Change Influenced Human Evolution
    news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/03/researchers-seek-funding-to-study.html
    (“a new report released yesterday by the National Research Council recommends a major new interdisciplinary research program to study how past climate influenced human evolution. In the report, an interdisciplinary team of paleoanthropologists and geologists (including Rick Potts)…are also seeking funds to educate the public about how climate change influenced human evolution“)

    (Who is Charles E. Dern? Gifts of $1 Million or More – Mr. Charles E. Dern established a legacy gift for the National Museum of Natural History for its Human Origins Initiative.)

    There is a three part NOVA episode called “Becoming Human” which outlines human origins, paying special attention to the role of extreme climate swings as a driver of our evolution. The conclusion summed up at the end of Part 1 is:
    “since we are (I paraphrase) “creatures of climate change”, and “the most intelligent species that ever existed”; “and “climate has always changed….we’ll manage to survive the climate change we’re undergoing right now”.
    This conclusion completely overlooks that these climate swings helped cause the extinction of earlier “less adaptable” hominid species. A point which is made in the very same episode! … The show’s underwriters? — “Funding for NOVA is provided by Exxon-Mobil, Pacific Life, David H. Koch, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.” ”

    Dr. Willie Soon and Dr. Sallie Baliunas, Harvard Smithsonian
    Astrophysics Research Center

  70. Solar Jim says:

    Anyone notice that Yale is doing climate polling with George Mason University which houses the Mercatus Center, funded and participated in by one of the Koch brothers? Not that the very institution (Yale) that told Colonel Drake (in 1859) that mineral oil would be a good thing to set on fire (see The Prize by Yergin) would have any bias in the matter.

    I’m sure we can be confident in Yale’s integrity since it’s president is one of Obama’s advisers and we have heard about “clean, safe” atomic fission (as well as safe off-shore oil extraction and clean methane “natural gas” from hydrolic fracturing).

  71. Sora Ryu says:

    As I have already said nobody (except the little progressive bloggers on pushed to the fringes) took notice of him because everyone was blindsided by his good looks and large gifts. And don’t even compare him to Soros on the left. Unlike Koch, he is completely transparent and doesn’t donate money to no-name, supposedly neutral or ‘green roots’ political fronts that simultaneously hawk his political ideas and help attain his corporate goals.)

  72. Raul M. says:

    Oh, the linear line of anticipated temperature is not only in an upward trend, it’s called a hockey stick because there is the tipping point
    at the corner of the stick. So scientists say that to be able to do any kind of accurate guesstimate of what the weather will be, the rules have changed from the tipping point.

    Nice work, but who knew? Too busy to notice? Any bright ideas?

    Yep, we are moving closer to the point when someone of undeniable position comes forward to point out all efforts will go toward cleaning up whether it was a party or not.

  73. J Bowers says:

    There could be a way to counteract this.

    Whereas the likes of the Koch Brothers may have wads of cash to hand out, I’m wondering how much CP readers, amongst others, could muster to balance the Smithsonian’s act. Use the Koch tactics against them. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, at the end of the day there are bills to pay and money talks.

    How about an exhibition defined by leading climate scientists and funded by concerned citizens? If it were designed correctly it could be an international travelling exhibition.

    Think big. Think active not passive: Take the bull by the horns.

  74. Mike Roddy says:

    J Bowers:

    Climate scientists and concerned members of the public should not have to pay to play at the Smithsonian. We won’t win that battle against billionaires.

    Congressmen are already purchased by corporations. If museums and universities need money from people like Koch and Tillerson to survive, there is no more civic life in the United States. Which is what these greed crazed radical extremists want.

  75. Karen S. says:

    We shouldn’t be shocked. This is not the first time the Smithsonian has put politics before science. When Subhankar Banerjee’s book “Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land” was published in the early 00’s, the photos were so strikingly beautiful that the Smithsonian put them on exhibit. Someone found out about it (presumably someone connected to the oil and gas business) and didn’t like it, and the next thing we heard about was Senator Ted Stevens threatening the Smithsonian’s funding for taking an “advocacy position.” Banerjee’s exhibit was banished to a remote alcove on the third floor. This stuff happens all the time. When ownership of 95% of US media has shrunk from 50 corporations in 1983 to 5 mega-corporations today, all conservative, it reinforces the message that monopolies are alive and well, and that money is power, especially if you control the message. That’s why the internet and social network sites are so frustrating to these guys, they can’t control it.

  76. Anna Haynes says:

    In a fit of common sense, I’d like to retract what I said above (#68) re the “SI Board’s rich-folk are pretty much a lost cause, for… psychology-of-power reasons” – it’s embarrassingly categorical, seeing as how I don’t know any of them.

    And I do hope it’s also incorrect.

    “If you want to be admired, do something admirable”

  77. fj2 says:

    And, here comes the “expected” totally misguided misleading commentary “The Kochtopus,” Schumpeter, The Economist, Aug 26, 2010:

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2010/08/americas_second_biggest_private_company

    “This week’s New Yorker magazine contains a long profile of the Koch Brothers, David and Charles, who run America’s second-biggest private company, Koch Industries, written by Jane Mayer. I hesitate to comment on the article, other than to say that the underlying assumption, that the Tea Party movement is the creation of a couple of sinister billionaires, is nonsense. Americans don’t need sinister billionaires to persuade them that government is big, fat, evil and the rest of it, as the popularity of the “Truthers” on the left demonstrates.”

    Allusion to the “Truthers” is the typical red herring attempting to cloud the dangerous reality that well-documented subversive actions by Koch and other fossil fuel industry companies conspire to prevent action on rapid accelerating environmental devastation forced by climate change not at all mentioned in this and the referenced piece by Stanley Fish, NY Times, Aug 23, 2010: “Truth and Conspiracy in the Catskills.”

    And yes, Schumpter does not say directly that “Covert Operations” is a “Truther” article but his commingling of such thinking is substantial and completely misleading.

    It is extremely suspect that Strumpeter mentions many of Koch Industries’ business holdings except prominent ones in the fossil fuel industry which is the major reason for the fossil fuel industry’s dangerous corruption of American governance even more so that the tobacco industry well-documented beyond question.

    Yes, there is a mistaken tendency to lump those who seek immediate action on climate change with bizarre conspiracy theorists and others with apocalyptic visions but, nothing can be further from science-based, political, and economic truths; where extremely powerful and deeply entrenched special interest groups such as the tobacco and fossil fuel industries have no problem promoting big lies to continue business-as-usual to highly lucrative advantage at complete odds to the broad public good.

    The excellent and comprehensive New Yorker article “Covert Operations,” is not nonsense and exhibits a boldness lacking in main-stream and other media that relies on advertising revenues including from the auto and fossil fuel industries.

    Can “The Economist” affirm a comparable level of immunity from special-interest corruption and most of all the auto and fossil fuel industries regarding this highly suspect “opinion”?

  78. BUTCH hUHN says:

    HOW CAN YOU GET THE NEWYORKER?

    GREAT ARTICLE. iTS GREAT TO SEE WE STILL HAVE SOMEONE TO TELL THE TRUTH.

    bUTCH

  79. Raul M. says:

    One amazing thing about forest management,
    the infestation should be contained before
    the infestation is hauled through the region.
    Driving infested felled trees up and over the
    roads and highways.
    Those bugs were free and agitated to fly straight
    away from those timber trucks.

  80. Joyce says:

    it is those who are seeking power because they are extremely greedy such as seems the Koch brothers are,that is taking this great Nation down…It is so sad that some who have so much wealth are such deceivers and are double-dealers in all kinds of corruption..these could be helping Society but are too self-consumed ..I believe we saw those selfish triats in the Bush Dynasty “reign” in Washington in very recent years ..I pray America learned something from that awful time!!!

  81. Chris Winter says:

    The Economist opines, “Americans don’t need sinister billionaires to persuade them that government is big, fat, evil and the rest of it…”

    True, but we’ve got ’em nonetheless, and Jane Mayer has got these two of them dead to rights.

  82. J Bowers says:

    Mike Roddy says: “Climate scientists and concerned members of the public should not have to pay to play at the Smithsonian. We won’t win that battle against billionaires.”

    I agree with the principal, Mike, but I’m more concerned with the reality. The ocean is acidifiying in case you didn’t hear, and principals won’t stop the phytoplankton from dropping dead. How you conclude you can’t win that battle against billionaires is a bit puzzling as I’ve yet to see any costings of such a project.

    Just because something’s difficult doesn’t mean you shrug it off as impossible before you take the first step.

  83. Benin says:

    Cristián Samper, the museum’s director, said that the exhibit is not about climate change, and described Koch as “one of the best donors we’ve had, in my tenure here, because he’s very interested in the content, but completely hands off.”

    That’s from a New Yorker article, which is worth reading. The article is worth reading. The blogger seems to miss the point: Everybody has opinions, but Koch is willing to let the museum do its thing.

    I don’t see anything wrong with the exhibit mentioned in the blog. It supports the basic ideas of evolution, and it offers some interesting ideas on the impact of climate on evolution. I don’t see anything untrue or dangerous in that exhibit, and I think that Koch should be praised, not criticized, for the donations.

    Yes, climate change is real and important, but it’s not the only science that matters. In my opinion, the science behind evolution is more important than climate change, because if people deny evolultion, science is dead.

  84. Dertive says:

    Money is the point. Aggregate sites can say whatever they want. Money always wins. Duh.

  85. Sean says:

    Filth. Just plain filth in the Smithsonian.