I wasn't going to write this column because it's all
about a secret.
But with spring having arrived Sunday after an unusually intense winter,
the subject of global warming is timely; and besides, the secret is
getting out anyhow.
Ideally, people wouldn't know the true theme of Michael Crichton's new
book until they'd read it themselves and learned what the author meant
for them to learn. But this would require keeping the secret until the
book is available in paperback for mass readership this coming November,
and already the radical environmentalists are up in arms about it.
"State of Fear" was published in 2004 in time for holiday
gift-giving. I don't often buy hardcover novels because I prefer to wait
for the cheaper paperback, if not the used paperback at the book swap.
But the chunky "State of Fear" was my Christmas present to
I discovered Michael Crichton in 1969 when his first novel was
"The Andromeda Strain" was the prototype for the
now-popular techno-thriller, and was one of the books responsible for my
son's love of reading. Not because he read it, at age 5, but because he
knew that I was doing something fun when I refused to put it down.
Lance often heard, "Go find your own book and a snack, Honey, Mommy is
reading ..." in his formative years.
Later, we'd share
"Jurassic Park" and other exciting Crichton
novels. We liked not only the page-turning plots, but the reams of
scientific information that filled the pages in between the chase
scenes. Biological weapons; dinosaur DNA; undersea, jungle and space
exploration; time travel; genetic engineering: Read for enjoyment, but
beware the future!
So I'm sure Crichton's plan was: Promote a book generically as another
"exciting and provocative techno-thriller," and let readers learn
something controversial when they are too caught up in the action to
The central character is Peter Evans, a young, enthusiastic attorney for
George Morton, a millionaire philanthropist focused on environmental
causes. Part of their joint agenda is to promote concern about global
warming; they are working on an upcoming Abrupt Climate Change
Conference. The wealthy benefactor disappears shortly after connecting
with one John Kenner, a professor of geoenvironmental engineering, an
expert in risk analysis at MIT, and a government consultant on
environmental and defense issues.
Peter and Morton's assistant, Sarah, are caught up in an international
intrigue, ranging from "the glaciers of Iceland to the volcanoes of
Antarctica ... the Arizona desert to the deadly jungles of the Solomon
Islands." The first scientific footnote is on Page 43; there are lots of
them on Page 193. But by then, you want to know what is going to happen
so you read on to the end as Kenner shows Peter and Sarah the truth
about global warming and the government-inspired, media-encouraged
"state of fear."
In an appendix at the end of the book, Crichton explains, in clear and
simple language, "why politicized science is dangerous." He
methodically, and with copious Appendix II footnotes, debunks the
pseudo-science behind the theory of unnatural climate change. He quotes
philosopher Alston Chase: "When the search for truth is confused with
political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for
Global warming has become a basic premise upon which cases for action
are built. Few question the premise. Most news stories begin with a
description of related problems as in "global warming threatens to ...
drown the seacoast, intensify air pollution, heat or chill the ocean
But Crichton points out, among other things, that "satellite data and
ground stations show slight cooling over the last 20 years ... Antarctic
ice has increased since 1979," and while some places on earth are
getting warmer, other places are getting cooler. The facts cited
throughout the book are interesting, but the best section is the
discussion about who benefits from the threat of global warming, and
"Fear," Kenner explains to Evans. "The fall of the Berlin Wall created a
vacuum of fear," and international terrorists had not yet stepped
forward to fill it.
Once activist groups and politicians are raising money from a threat,
they resist any attempts to disavow it. So even with the issue of
terrorism stealing public attention, they forge on. Hence, a recent
report predicting parts of the Boston area under water by 2100.
It's interesting that some of the same politicians who think it's too
early to worry about a Social Security shortfall in 2042 are eager to
address a water problem half a century later. Personally, I think it's
good to study the impact of human beings on the Earth and its climate,
but only in the spirit of genuine scientific inquiry.
Thanks to the return of the sun to the Northern Hemisphere, our part of
the globe will be warming — for the next six months anyway.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem
News and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence
Journal and other newspapers.