Sat, 19 Aug 2006

State of Fear

— SjG @ 8:07 pm

Michael Crichton, HarperCollins, 2004.

Crichton knows how to write a thriller, and even when it’s a pedantic screed, he still manags to make it fun. Imagine, if you will, a cabal of evil environmentalists, who go to outlandish lengths to try to kill lots of people in order to sway public opinion, thereby bringing in more revenues for their nefarious organizations (which need big money primarily to support their leaders’ lavish lifestyles). Don’t think too hard about the fact that these evil environmentalists’ biggest scheme is to trigger a tsunami in order to spread fear about climate change (huh!?).

Crichton definitely has his axe to grind, and even has a few valid points to make (I liked the idea about double-blind science funding, for example). But this just isn’t a book you can take seriously as anything but a preachy adventure. There are some fun aspects, though. I enjoyed the barely disguised Martin Sheen and Barry Glasner characters, for example, and Crichton’s sadistic glee in dispatching one of them. Crichton is obviously infuriated by hypocracy within the environmental movement and among its promoters. And sure, he has plenty of footnotes to support his “no such thing as global warming” hypothesis — drawing different conclusions than some of the studies’ authors. He explains that away by arguing that they have to make the politically-correct assumption in order to publish. But any chance of taking his science seriously is impacted by assertions like that there are more old-growth forests around today than 150 years ago (must have something to do with what the definition of “are” is).

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