The Smithsonian’s Koched Up Climate Science


David Koch is one of the richest men in the United States. He’s also a major funder of institutions promoting “free market” economic policies, though the institutions he supports typically don’t promote any free market policies that would be deleterious to the interests of major fossil fuel producers. He also takes a particular interest in funding efforts to ensure that the negative externalities of burning fossil fuels remain unpriced. Coincidentally enough, Koch got to be so rich thanks to owning an oil company. Kock is also a major donor to certain legitimate scientific enterprises, including recently a lot of endeavors related to researching human evolution. Most specifically, he funded a new Hall of Human Origins at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History.

I love primates, so I went to check it out a couple of weeks ago. It’s full of interesting stuff. But coincidentally enough, the exhibit also takes a number of slightly bizarre detours that seem calculated to confuse people about the science pertaining to present-day climate change. There’s even an interactive game near the end of the exhibit that basically has nothing to do with human evolution, but does just bluntly assert that investing money in mass transit will harm a nation’s economy. My colleagues Lee Fang and Joe Romm made a video tour of some of the relevant elements that everyone should watch:

Having been exposed to a lot of right-wing propaganda in my day, my expert judgment is that by the standards of right-wing propaganda this stuff is pretty mild. But by the standards of an exhibit in the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, it’s totally outrageous.