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May 1, 2005

State of Fear

Michael Crichton - ISBN 0-066214130

This is Crichton’s most exciting and provocative book in years. For those interested in a techno-thriller there is enough action and suspense for everyone. For those, like me, interested in the exposition and command of scientific detail, this is a stimulating excursion into the global warming conundrum. He makes the facts--scientific and political--of global warming entertaining while he informs on the true nature of the problem(s).

The intrepid protagonists (there are six) circumnavigate the globe, north to south and east to west in pursuit of malignant enviro-wacko-warriors bent on producing crises to substantiate their claims of “dangerous” warming. From icy Antarctica to the steaming tropics of the western Pacific, these wackos are unrelenting in their attempts to produce global calamities in order to get the attention of the dubious and the unconvinced: unexpected floods, quakes and tsunamis are included in their diabolical strategy.

And there are the “good guys” who chase these radicals to the ends of the earth. Now and again someone is exterminated, and a photogenic movie star is devoured by cannibals (sounds about right to me, since he’s a lot like Alec Baldwin.)

Along the way there are inclusions of the real facts of global warming, the environ-mental lobbyists and the political activities of all sides of the debate (or, more correctly, the argument/fight.) He describes the “State of Fear” which exists, thus explaining his title.

Amongst the engrossing details he offers are:
• 95% of glacial ice is in Antarctica.
• These critical glaciers are NOT melting, but increasing slightly in size.
• Those melting glaciers are NOT melting because of warming.
• Sea levels are NOT rising.
• Increasing carbon dioxide is actually GOOD for plant growth, and, therefore for harvests. No desertification or famine. Indeed the North African desert is shrinking in size.
• Schemes to improve the human condition have uniformly FAILED for lack of a true understanding of what to do.
• The imagined idyllic life of primitive cultures is NOT serene, but savage and not returning--were it possible--to such a “pristine” situation is in fact the justification for, and PURPOSE of, government!
• Avoiding change is impossible. The “third rock from the sun” has been in a state of dynamic alterations since its creation, and is little less active now than ever. (He offers a chronicle of the earth’s history which is fascinating.)

Crichton observes that: “We know astonishingly little about every aspect of the environment, from its past history, to its present state, to how to conserve and protect it. In every debate, all sides overstate the extent of existing knowledge and its degree of certainty. . . . Before making expensive policy decisions on the basis of climate models, I think it is reasonable to require that those models predict future temperatures accurately for a period of ten years. Twenty would be better.”

In the chapter he entitles “Author’s Message” he itemizes 25 provocative thoughts/suggestions for consideration if the powers that be are actually interested in confronting and resolving the problems which do exist. (He does not deny global warming (!), just its origins as a human phenomenon, and he discusses in detail the danger of politicized science.)

Posted by respeto at May 1, 2005 12:30 PM