Target: Claudia Berg, Director of the State Historical Society of North Dakota
Goal: Don’t let fossil fuel companies influence closure of climate change museum exhibit just because they donated money.
A Smithsonian travelling exhibit that highlights renewable energy resources and highlights the threat of climate change has been closed early after complaints from fossil fuel companies that have previously donated to the museum. The North Dakota Heritage Center pulled the “Green Revolution” exhibition after email exchanges with companies that had contributed to a recently completed $52 million expansion to the museum as well as supporting exhibits showcasing fossil fuel resources in North Dakota. While representatives of the museum claim the exhibit was closed after complaints by visitors, the exhibit had been at the North Dakota Heritage Center for four months and was closed down a week after the museum received complaints from its donors. While the donors did not ask the museum directly to close the exhibit, they clearly have untoward influence over the museum, an institution that is meant to showcase unbiased facts to educate people.
If the money given by fossil fuel companies such as Hess Corp and Continental Resources is a donation, they should not expect anything in return. Considering the global climate crisis, it is critical that people have access to information about climate change and the alternatives to fossil fuel dependency especially in states where fossil fuels are a large part of the economy. Furthermore, showing exhibits favorable to the continued consumption of fossil fuels without information pertaining to the threat of climate change is both biased and dangerous. Sign our petition and ask that Claudia Berg, director of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, reopen the exhibit and reject undue influence by fossil fuel companies over North Dakota’s museums.
Dear Claudia Berg,
While recognizing the pressures felt by public institutions in an age of cuts to funding, I must urge you to reject and resist attempts by the fossil fuel industry to influence museum exhibits. Biases in educational institutions are damaging and in this case the threat posed by suppressing access to information on climate change threatens us all.
The North Dakota Heritage Center was the beneficiary of millions in donations from the fossil fuel industry, money that helped fund its expansion. However, if that money is, as they claim, just a donation, they should not expect more input on the center’s exhibits than any resident of North Dakota.
Currently, the North Dakota Heritage Center does not portray a balanced image of the fossil fuel industry. There are exhibits showcasing the benefits of the fossil fuel industry, but none focused on the global costs. Given that most climate scientists agree that in order to avoid catastrophic climate change we have to keep over 80 percent of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground, it is the responsibility of an educational institution to provide a fair and balanced representation of the facts. So again, I urge you to reopen the exhibit, or alter existing exhibits to reflect the full costs of fossil fuels.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Beyond Coal & Gas