Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why would climate denialists and Tea Partyers like paleontology?

The right’s dinosaur fetish: Why the Koch brothers are obsessed with paleontology

In April of 2014, the National Museum of Natural History in Washington closed the doors of its paleontology hall. Gone were the placoderm fish, the Ice Age mammals, the hollow-boned pterodactyls. Gone especially were the dinosaurs – the Apatosaurus, Tyrannosaurus and other kings of the primordial earth.
But this was no second extinction. It was evolution, a $45 million renovation project that would expand the paleontology halls to 25,000 square feet and give an outdated series of displays a desperately needed update. $35 million of that cost – the largest single gift in the museum’s history — was pledged by one David H. Koch.
Nobody inspires more liberal anger than Charles and David Koch. As owners of the massive Koch Industries, a multinational energy and manufacturing conglomerate, the Koch brothers have spent a fortune bankrolling a profusion of right-wing causes. They have gained a well-deserved reputation as climate change deniers, polluters, union busters and all-round rapacious capitalists. Trace most conservative campaigns back far enough, and you’ll find them at the other end, pumping their libertarian vision into the body politic.
That’s business, however. Everybody needs hobbies, and one of David Koch’s biggest hobbies, beyond his more general philanthropic pursuits, is paleontology. He has toured museums all over the world, visited dig sites in Central Africa, and funded the excavations of Don Johansen, the discoverer of the famous prehuman fossil Lucy. In an interview with the magazine Archeology, Koch excitedly recalled pulling hominid bones from the ground at Johansen’s dig site in Olduvai Gorge. He keeps a frame replica of Lucy’s hand as a trophy on his office wall, and in 2009 he funded the somewhat controversial Hall of Human Origins at the Smithsonian to the tune of $15 million.

Read it all here

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