Revived today the best novel on “global warming” could be explosive.
Guest essay by Walter Donway
I guess that if I discovered “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton eleven years after its publication in 2004–reading it last summer with indsecribable surprise and joy–you can tolerate a a year-old review.
This book could be the 1984 of “Big Climate Alarmism.” After George Orwell took on “doublespeak,” people never listened to political rhetoric in the same way. Whatever you think of the controversial “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand, do you think arguments for the “greed” of businessmen and the moral loftiness of statism will ever be heard the same way?
Michael Critchton was perhaps the most scientifically literate and technologically brilliant best-selling novelist of our time. It turns out he was one of the most courageous, too. Fortunately, by the time he published “State of Fear,” a pounding thriller with more than 200 scientific footnotes meticulously documenting its all-assault on Big Climate Alarmism, his reputation was unassailable. Because, when he published it, the man who had written “The Andromeda Strain,” “Congo,” “Terminal Man,” “Jurraisic Park,” and “E.T.” got few reviews and those were mostly awful. Groups of scientists wrote letters scorning the science in the book.
Crichton never flinched. The book gave him a reputation as a climate change skeptic and in 2005 he testified before a Senate committee and had a private visit with President George W. Bush to discuss the issue.
Crichton died three years later, so we can never know if his popularity and reputation would have recovered from this astonishing act of integrity and devotion to science. He did it for the American people, but, I suspect, more out lifelong respect for science, which he saw squandering its reputation on “global warming.”
The problem was that in 2004 “global warming” still had tremendous momentum, all the excitement of discovery. The work of critics had only begun; there was not then the constituency for “The State of Fear”–to support it, publicize it, promote it–that there is today. Had there been, I believe it could have transformed the debate in the public mind.
What is astounding is that back in 2004, Crichton saw it all. As I write in the review:
“Melting glaciers, icebergs calving off Antarctic glaciers, worldwide weather records, rising sea levels, satellite measurements of atmospheric warming, correlation of carbon dioxide with warming, expanding or contracting deserts: State of Fear takes them on, and many others, with the ease that Agatha Christie presents clues to a murder.
“What will stop many readers, and not once, is the question: If these are the facts, what science actually says, then how in Hell do the shibboleths of global warming keep proliferating? Crichton’s answers include: dozens or hundreds of complicated issues raised when you discuss the history and future of the whole Earth, its geology, its inhabitants, its atmosphere, and its oceans; lack of almost any adequate data on any aspect of the debate; the deadly ‘precautionary principle’ that in the absence of enough data, assume that the most catastrophic prediction might be true and prepare (that is: with the least data, take the most extreme actions); the enormous self-interest of scientists funded almost overwhelmingly by a single source (government) that already has embraced the answer; the ever-shifting timeframes (most predictions with a 10-year horizon already have been falsified by events) that keep getting longer; changes in the hypothesis (from the idea that temperature will rise over a century to ‘abrupt weather changes’ today demonstrate global warming); and on and on.
“Incredibly, it all comes into the story—usually riding on a roller coaster of action or borne by a lover’s quarrel.”
Nothing could be more hopeful, today, with with Big Climate Alarmists succeeding, at least in America, in making their views government policy, than a wide revival of this powerful antedote. Candidates of the two parties for President have diametrically opposite views and “global warming,” but the mainstream media is like a crooked umpire on the take.
I urge you to get involved. Fortunately, reading “State of Fear” is not only hugely informative and heartening, it is thrilling.
The review is here:
The book is available on Amazon here: