The Petition to the American Museum Natural History in New York

This petition was to raise concern with the leaders of the American Natural History Museum to preserve or recover their pro-science views on climate.   The back ground and the petition is as follows:


Background  of the need for the petition.

Actual Petition  the actual petition with signatures.


To those who signed we salute you.  You have joined some rare and esteemed scientific company.  Good job.   

Rebekah Mercer tells her story:  Link


And news of the impact of the above petition is now showing up in the media:  


The need to defend science has never been higher than right now.



Letter from Prof Willie Soon, the leader of the Petition Drive 

Feb 5, 2018  7AM East Coast time

Dear Friends and Colleagues,


I sincerely hope that all of you will blog and make big wave of this important signature petition drive that was sent to President of the American Natural History Museum an hour ago.


The goal, as I see it, is rather pure and very simple: To eliminate all the anti-science movements and actions 

that are out there pretending to enhance scientific progress or even to help any decent people.


Please write your own thoughts and/or make available these two files to all:

(1) the short cover letter to AMNH with 325 signatures with some rather important and interesting scientists

(2) the longer background information on why we were compelled to do this signature drive


If you read the background information: do keep in mind of this quote that I find to be bordering on the level of insanity (if I may be permitted to speak frankly once again) and yet they insist on this crazy thought being main-stream and proper science (where is the evidence Prof. Jim Hansen?):

"[A]nother ice age will never occur, unless humans go extinct. ... Humans are now in control of global climate, for better or worse.  An ice age will never be allowed to occur if humans exist, because it can be prevented by even a 'thimbleful' of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), which are easily produced." (p. 8) --- James Hansen   June 26, 2007

"How can we avert dangerous climate change?" a revised and expanded from written testimony presented to the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, U.S. House of Representatives, 26 April 2007 Link

"I am testifying here as a private citizen, a resident of Kintnerville, Pennsylvania on behalf of the planet, of life on Earth, including all species." --- James Hansen (November 2007) Direct testimony to the State of Iowa before the Iowa Utilities Board


Next, I want to briefly summarize for you what we did (see the sample cover letter (the petition entry above) that was emailed to about 500 persons---and I note that we got quite a few out-dated and undelivered emails---so our successful rate is very high) and some of the signatures.


We did not want to do any robotic online petition as is very popular and "easy" to do these days---please contrast with what

our colleagues from the exact opposite persuasions did below (see the NOTES below).


We also set a limited time only for the signature collection---from Monday Jan 29th-Feb 2 or so.


Broadly we got quite a lot of PhD and MD level scientists with serious degrees in Science and Engineering (I did not count, if you do want to do that please let me know! but I am sure it is over 200s ). 


It may be relevant to note that all signatures were signed as the co-signers wished, and i noted that some people simply to not bother to list their PhDs or even major professional titles like being elected members of the US Academy of Sciences: why? (well, they are probably embarrassed according to one scientist that told me so!)


We clearly also have a few first-class, true mavericks in this crowd: two big Nobel-honored physicist and chemist  (Ivar Giaever and Kary Mullis) and one that does not need a PhD (Professor Freeman Dyson)  and some of the finest mathematicians (Sergiu Klainerman and Chris Essex) around.


Finally, I want to acknowledge some of our dear friends, especially Christopher Monckton of Benchley, that may not

be able to put their signatures at this time but we know that they are solidly with us.


Thank you all and Have a Nice Day.


Willie, as a private citizen and independent scientist (that really did not want to do this!)



ED Comment on Below:  The following article authored by M Mann and James Powell attempt to demonize Rebekah Mercer who is on the Board of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.   This is a great example of the zero tolerance for good skeptical science, and the attack dog tactics of the alarmists.   In their eyes there can be no counter arguments, and their use of the climate denier label in essence shows they are more interested in polemics and demonizing than enjoying a good dose of the truth. 


Rebekah Mercer Puts a Museum’s Credibility at Risk

A protest at the American Museum of Natural History in New York against Rebekah Mercer, a trustee. She and her family’s foundation have supported politicians and organizations that deny climate change.

By James Powell and Michael E. Mann

 NYTs, Feb. 5, 2018


Museums are vital cultural institutions. They provide a glimpse into the past, a record of what once was and an exploration of how the present came to be. They are social cornerstones, shaping public opinion in subtle yet profound ways.


In a world increasingly dominated by fake news, museums should stand as sanctuaries of truth and science. To do so, a natural-history museum must be accurate, faithful to the facts and trusted by the public. This is why it is so troubling that Rebekah Mercer continues to sit on the board of trustees of the American Museum of Natural History.


Ms. Mercer and her family were important backers of President Trump. She has a stake in Breitbart News, and the family foundation has contributed millions of dollars to climate-change-denying politicians and organizations like the Heartland Institute, which says, “Global warming is not a crisis” and “There is no need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and no point in attempting to do so.” According to the Mercer Family Foundation’s tax reports, it gave the Heartland Institute nearly $5.9 million from 2008 to 2016, more than the $4 million it donated to the American Museum of Natural History during that period.


Other climate-denial groups have also benefited from the Mercers’ largess. According to the foundation’s most recent tax filing, for 2016obtained by the Climate Investigations Center, those groups include the CO2 Coalition, $150,000 (“We are persuaded that the net effects of increasing CO2 will be very good for the world,” the group says); the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, $125,000 (“It is highly unlikely that future increases in the air’s CO2 content will produce any global warming,” according to the group); and the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine, $200,000 (“several” members of its staff are “well known for their work” promoting a petition whose signatories are scientists “opposed, on scientific grounds, to the hypothesis of ‘human-caused global warming,’” the institute’s website says).


These organizations are in clear conflict with the virtually unanimous international scientific consensus on climate change.


We cannot say that Ms. Mercer and her family foundation are dictating museum exhibitions by virtue of her board seat, and the museum, in a statement, has said that she is not and that “its funders do not shape its curatorial decisions.” But that’s not really the issue. As a funder of climate-science disinformation, Ms. Mercer stands in direct contradiction to the museum’s mission “to discover, interpret, and disseminate — through scientific research and education — knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.”


Let’s be clear: This is not about partisan politics; it’s about mission alignment and truth. A financier of climate denialism does not belong in a leadership position at a science museum.


We have signed on to a letter with a group of other scientists worried that Ms. Mercer’s membership on the board presents the museum with a significant reputational risk. We were inspired by a similar campaign against a former museum board member, the conservative billionaire David Koch, who left the board when his term ended in 2015.


With over 400 signatories, including Nobel laureates, the letter we signed urges the museum to stand strong as a voice of science and remove Ms. Mercer from the board. Twenty-eight curators at the museum also recently signed a letter in which they expressed “profound concern” over Ms. Mercer’s presence on the board because the groups she has helped fund “directly contradict the museum’s mission and impede our ongoing efforts to educate the public about the science of past and future climate change.”


For years, many scientists were hesitant to come out of their labs and speak up for fear that truth-telling would result in personal attacks or threaten their professional credibility. Mr. Trump’s election and the appointment of so many science deniers to positions of power in his administration have put that era behind us. Last year more than one million scientists and their supporters are estimated to have taken to the streets around the world in the March For Science.


Climate-denying politicians have served as willing accomplices to industry special interests seeking to silence science that stands in the way of their commercial agenda. Time and again, that has meant sacrificing the public good for private profit. Silence supports the status quo, a status quo that allows fossil fuel companies to profit from the continued destruction of our climate and the suffering of people the world over.


As for the Mercer family’s donations to the museum, we suggest those funds be used to develop exhibitions and programs that educate the public about the climate-denial machine, that illuminate its history of using propaganda to obstruct pro-climate action and that document how we’ve arrived at this current crisis point for the planet.


Ms. Mercer has spent millions to discredit science. As scientists, we can’t allow that to continue unchallenged. This is why it’s so important to remove Rebekah Mercer from the board of the American Museum of Natural History. The public needs to trust its museums, and as a sponsor of fake news and climate disinformation, she erodes that trust.


James Powell is a former president of the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia and the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.  Michael E. Mann is director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State and a co-author, with Tom Toles, of  “The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Ruining Our Politics and Driving Us Crazy.”



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