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The Hall of Ocean Life in the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

American Museum of Natural History Parts Ways with Billionaire Climate-Change Denier Rebekah Mercer

Billionaire Rebekah Mercer, the chair of the Mercer Family Foundation—which has donated millions in support of President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016 and routinely backs conservative causes including climate change denial organizations—is no longer on the board of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The institution has been criticized over its ties to Mercer, who was elected a trustee in 2013, and has faced mounting pressure to remove her from its board. 

The activist group Revolting Lesbians first learned that Mercer, the daughter of hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer, had been “quietly removed from their list of trustees” from an anonymous museum employee, reports Hyperallergic. The institution confirmed that Mercer’s term expired in December, but did not disclose any other details regarding her departure. Since each trustee is elected for three years and can serve up to three consecutive terms, Mercer was eligible for one more term.

In January 2018, more than 450 scientists and academics endorsed a letter calling for the institution to sever ties with Mercer. It read: “The most important asset any museum has is its credibility. This can be damaged by ties to donors and board members who are publicly known for investing in climate science obfuscation and opposing environmental solutions.” In addition, twenty-eight tenured curators at the museum also expressed their “profound concern” about Mercer’s funding of organizations which “directly contradict the museum’s mission and impede our ongoing efforts to educate the public about the science of past and future climate change.”

Over the years, the family’s foundation has channeled more than $100 million to far-right-wing think tanks and politicians, including the Koch brothers, Breitbart News, and Cambridge Analytica, reports Deutsche Welle. Between 2008 and 2016, the foundation gifted $5.9 million to the Heartland Institute, which promotes forums for climate-change skeptics. It has also given to organizations such as the CO2 Coalition and the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide, which promote the belief that carbon dioxide is a boon for the environment, an opinion that is contradicted by scientific consensus.