Appalling: War on Science Now Includes War on Science Museums
Dallas' Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
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As we noted when citing the excellent recent episode of Fox' COSMOS, which explained the causes and dangers of global warming in a way that turned a long-time, self-described "climate denier" colleague of ours into a "believer," the documented facts of science don't require "belief." Scientific facts are still true, whether one chooses to believe them or not.
One of the great strengths of COSMOS host Neil deGrasse Tyson's explanation of climate change in the episode is that he did not hedge bets to satisfy the misinformed beliefs of science deniers. The show simply taught the science of global warming and what is both known and unknown about it. Period. That would seem to be the very central point of science education. But it's a point that is being forgotten, or lost, or simply ignored by some science museums when it comes to teaching the science of global warming, according to a report by Anna Kuchment of the Dallas Morning News.
Kuchment's central example is Dallas' Perot Museum of Nature and Science and their display celebrating Texas' energy boom. "Some [of the museum's] choices are scientifically questionable," James S. Russell understated for Bloomberg News shortly after the $185 million dollar facility first opened in December of 2012.
The Morning News found that some such institutions are failing to accurately portray the science of global warming and climate change, in part, "to avoid stirring up controversy with donors, visitors and political representatives."
The paper cites the energy exhibit at the Perot Museum which "failed to display a panel that spelled out the link between burning fossil fuels, higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and a warming planet."
Museum officials claim the omission of the panel, which was part of the exhibition's original design, was little more than an oversight or that the panel was "incorrectly designed to fit its space" --- and that they have now "ordered a temporary panel to hang in its place until a new one can be manufactured" after the matter came to light. But those explanations seems fairly thin...particularly once the main funders of both the museum itself and this particularly exhibit are taken into consideration...
The missing panel, titled "Changing Climate," states that "Volcanic eruptions and burning fossil fuels increase the amount of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. This warms the Earth and can cause sea levels to rise and climates to change."
A caption below a photo of what looks like a smokestack added: "Humans have altered Earth's climate by burning coal and other fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide," according to an image of the panel provided by the Perot Museum and by the panel's designer.
The hall [in which the panel was supposed to hang] is named for The Rees-Jones Foundation, which was started by Chief Oil & Gas founder, president and CEO Trevor Rees-Jones and his wife, Jan.
The philanthropy has given more than $25 million to the museum. Locally based ExxonMobil, whose CEO recently questioned the link between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming, gave more than $1 million to the museum.
Forrest Hoglund, a longtime natural gas executive who is on the museum's board and led the $185 million campaign to build it, said the subject is too complex and fast-changing to tackle in a permanent exhibit. "Climate's always changing, and always has," he said. "So there's a lot of information out there and a lot of misinformation."
Yes. Misinformation. Like that being quoted by the fossil fuel executive Hoglund.
That whole "climate's always changing, and always has" line is a favorite, of late, of the last of the dead-ender climate science deniers. It sounds a lot like it's true, but it isn't, at least without caveats that explain that something always forces the climate to change. Such changes (short of immediate catastrophic events, such as an asteroid collision) tend to take thousands or millions of years to affect the climate, instead of just decades, as we are now seeing with CO2-forced climate change that just happens to have coincided with the unprecedented burning of fossil fuels since the beginning of the Industrial Age; and that there is no known parrallel in the history of mankind --- or of Earth --- for the rapid climate change scientists are now documenting and warning about.