The exhibit’s main theme is that extreme climate change in the past made humans very adaptable, an interesting theory based on limited data and lots of speculation. But its huge flaw is that it it [sic] leaves visitors with the distinct impression that human-caused global warming is no big deal — even though our understanding of the grave threat posed by that warming is based on far, far more research and data.
The exhibit’s major intellectual failing is that it does not distinguish between 1) the evolution of small populations of tens (to perhaps hundreds) of thousands of humans and pre-humans over hundreds of thousands of years to relatively slow, natural climate changes and 2) the completely different challenge we have today: The ability of modern civilization — nearly 7 billion people, going up to 10 billion — to deal with rapid, human-caused climate change over a period of several decades (and ultimately much longer).
Besides the obvious problem of manipulated misinformation on climate change so irresponsibly delivered to the public (via a project between a Smithsonian museum and a wealthy businessman), the backstage issue of what constitutes the museum's role in the public domain is illustrated with the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins.
How much should a wealthy supporter's agenda affect what a museum exhibits--and more importantly--how it exhibits? With this particular unfortunate instance, the National Museum of Natural History is eerily resembling an untrustworthy politician with its public servant stance that actually doesn't serve the public at all. Instead, it serves the source of the money that props it up. Of course one expects this kind of behavior from your typical desperate-for-money museum, but a museum under the Smithsonian's umbrella? I have to admit this comes as a surprise. Additionally, the fact that it ignores one of the most urgent issues in our lifetime is a heinous mistake that actually causes real harm to society's body of knowledge--the actual opposite of what the public expects from a museum of such stature.
The more incorrect information that gets broadcast on behalf of someone's selfish agenda, the harsher the future will be for individuals like President Mohamed Nasheed--and the families and cultures he represents all over the globe.