So last weekend I spent a damp morning in Leavenworth planning this summer’s Peru extravaganza and drinking far too much coffee. Given that planning a trip to Peru doesn’t exactly take a whole heck of a lot of time that left me with a few hours to kill while things dried out. Someone at work had leant me Michael Crichton‘s “State of Fear”…
The books is pretty much run of the mill Jurassic Park fare with an interesting twist in that it includes real environmental data. A bit like Oliver Stone’s JFK included real footage of the assasination, although Crichton makes a much clearer separation of the two. I have to say it kept me entertained but also pissed me off.
You can read more about why the scientific arguments presented in the book are incorrect here and here. While I have a scientific background (Physics) I’m not going to better the information presented there. I would like to make a couple of more general points.
- Mr Crichton claims of being unbiased seem a little hollow given that his books have a fairly consistent theme;
“Crichton’s works are consistently cautionary in that his plots invariably portray scientific advancements going awry, often with worst-case scenarios.”
- His argument is that science can be bought – which I partially agree with. Thus the entire scientific community is getting on the band wagon and writing grant proposals to follow the money. This simply doesn’t jive with his other theory that the environmental community is using scare tactics because it’s financially outgunned by corporate concerns. If this were true surely scientists would all be writing grant proposals for big oil companies.
- Crichton also points out that not all scientists agree on global warming. This is true. Not all scientists agree on Einstein’s theory’s either – it’s actually quite rare for any community to agree 100%, especially on a complex issue like global warming. Computer models are difficult to create and interpret and drug trial like experiments simply aren’t possible with a patient the size of planet Earth.
So I’ll get off my soapbox now. Suffice to say global warming is a serious issue that anyone into the outdoors and winter sports in particular should be concerned about. The less superficial might also like to contemplate the effect of a couple of feet rise in sea level might have on somewhere like Bangladesh.
Mr Crichton should stick to what he’s best at, writing mildly entertaining stories.