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Scientists demand museums 'cut ties' with Koch brothers

More than three dozen climate scientists sent a letter to ask that US museums of science and natural history "cut all ties" with the fossil fuel industry.

More than three dozen climate scientists and environmental leaders sent a letter to ask that U.S. museums of science and natural history "cut all ties" with the fossil fuel industry and individuals who fund climate science confusion. The letter singled out conservative billionaire David Koch.

The individuals wrote that they are "deeply concerned" about the museums' ties with people who profit from fossil fuels or fund lobby groups that misrepresent climate science. Museums, they added, provide education to humankind and shape children's understanding of the world.

"We are concerned 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," they wrote Tuesday in the letter.

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The scientists mention David Koch by name, noting that he is a major donor, exhibit sponsor, and trustee on the board of directors at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the American Museum of Natural History. "David Koch’s oil and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries is one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Mr. Koch also funds a large network of climate-change-denying organizations, spending over $67 million since 1997 to fund groups denying climate change science," the letter states. 

Koch Industries did not respond to msnbc's request for comment. However, Kenneth Spain, Koch Industries' managing director for external relations, told The Washington Post's "In the Loop" blog that “David Koch and the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation have pledged or contributed more than $1.2 billion dollars to educational institutions and cultural institutions, cancer research, medical centers, and to assist public policy organizations. Mr. Koch remains committed to supporting these causes."

petition paid for by the political blog the Daily Kos and also released Tuesday urges the public to "Kick Koch off the board." By Tuesday afternoon, the supporting organizations reached more than half of their goal in getting 32,000 signatures.

Less than a week ago, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to decrease the U.S. government's greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in his ongoing effort to combat climate change. The cuts are expected to keep 26 million metric tons of greenhouse gases out of the air by 2025 — equal to taking about 5.5 million cars off the road for a year. 

Although the damaging impact of climate change is predicted to worsen in the coming century, its extreme effects are already being felt on every continent and across the world’s oceans, a United Nations assessment revealed last year. The United Nations has warned that the global threat will increase if leaders don’t rein in the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. 

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Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell launched his own all-out war against Obama’s regulations on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Earlier this month, the senator from Kentucky encouraged states to defy federal environmental rules simply by ignoring them.

But scientists reported that the Totten Glacier of East Antarctica — the largest and most rapidly thinning glacier in the region — is shrinking because of warm ocean water developing beneath it. They warned the process could have "global consequences."