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State of Fear

December 24, 2004

After reading Michael Crichton's latest book, State of Fear, I bought a copy of it as a Christmas present for a family member. This isn't the "normal" Michael Crichton book. For one thing, unlike many of his books, there isn't an over-aggressive company engaging in reckless behaviour. Rather, the target of scorn is rightfully the environmentalist movement, and the fanatic fear-mongering regarding global warming. {C}I was pleasantly surprised that the book, despite being fiction, contains detailed references. The plot and characters are fictional; however, historical references and scientific references are real.

The book hasn't been particularly warmly recreived. Rather, it's reception has been predictably polarized. Environmentalist extremists everywhere have come out of the woodwork to smear Crichton, his book, and his references. State of Fear has received criticism from Crichton's devout fans as well, who think he should have just made it a non-fiction book. I disagree. The fictional aspect gives Crichton an opportunity to accurately portray the character of environmentalists, without launching into ad hominems. When I first started reading the book, I had a sinking feeling, as it was initially told from the environmentalists perspective. There was predictable egotistical talk about saving the world from "industry". However, as the reader slowly learns, the author does not agree with the environmentalists he is portraying. Issues the book tackles includes: the fatal conceit of believing that we can "manage" complex systems; the politicization of science; the unimpressive "evidence" for global warming; the folly of numerous regulations; and a brief touch on the environment under the care of the free market vs. socialism.

Crichton also exposes the relation of environmentalism to the third world: "we've got ours, but you can't get yours, because it's 'bad' for the environment". He explodes the myth that the Native Americans interfaces "naturally" with the environment and were in equilibrium with it. He also exposes the longing for primitivism as pure folly and ignorance. I don't know anything about Crichton's political orientation; however, this work appears to have been influenced by libertarian ideas, and a love of freedom.

 

Crichton's biolography references Free Market Environmentalism and The Satanic Gases: Clearing the Air about Global Warming (a CATO Institute book). One of the books is sponsored by the Property and Environment Rsesearch Center.

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