20 December 2005

State of Confusion

I read a review for Michael Crichton's most recent book, State of Fear, which pretty much wrote it off as NeoCon propoganda. Every since I've been wanting to read it. Finally, a few days ago I found time to block off for some "trash fiction" and I picked up the book to see just how bad it really was. (NOTE: I do not use the term trash fiction in a derogatory sense. It has it's purposes and I plan to write a trash novel one day!)

The basic plot of the book is that a rogue environmentalist group is trying to convince the world that global warming is a serious threat through the use of environmental terrorism. The protagonists start out as good intentioned if ill-informed environmental activists. Then a "real" scientist, named Kenner, comes along and tells them that all they think they know about global warming is wrong. A couple of his broad points are as follows

  • The globe isn't warming very much if at all.
  • Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by humans are, at most, very small contributors to this.
  • We cannot predict climate change, nor can we say that computer simulations that predict climate change are anything more than guesses.
Much of the books was devoted to the characters arguing between convential wisdom on global warming and the non-convential, yet "real" science that Kenner proposes. It is obvious that Kenner is just a mouthpiece for what Crichton believes himself as he flat out says in the Author's Note at the end of the book.

I didn't check any of the many references that Crichton lists through out the novel, nor do I know much about the topic in the first place. Just as the main characters did in the beginning of the book, I think pretty much everybody believes in global warming. Yet sitting down, immersed in the novel, I found some of the arguments persuasive.

So as a novel, I found it mildly entertaining. As propoganda, I found it mildy persuasive. As a new look at how people can be manipulated into believing things fiercely without having a clue what they are talking about, I found it to be a success!

If for nothing else it might be worth reading just to see if you know enough about global warming and the current science to knock down Crichton's arguments. Unfortunately, I am not, so I can only speak as a member of the "general readership" and say that it was an interesting book.

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