I just finished reading Michael Crichton’s State of Fear. At first I was somewhat put off by the online reviews which ranged from “a several hundred page rant” to “worst book I have read in a long time” to “it rivals and surpasses Gore's inane rant in its true science and rebuttal”, but given the storyline it’s not surprising there are strong emotions expressed in the reviews. In the end I decided to give it a shot.
Regardless whether you are a climate change believer or not, if you can put aside your own perspectives on the science and read it simply as a piece of fiction, then it’s classic Crichton with lots of twists and turns, life-threatening situations and improbable escapes, and the good guys winning in the end. It delivers what a Crichton reader has come to expect – both good and bad.
That’s not to say there’s no validity to Crichton’s underlying message. If nothing else, it should get the reader thinking about what we know for a fact versus what we know because we’ve been told it so many times by the media, by various celebrities (hence the reference in one review to Al Gore), by our political masters, and by some (most? many?) scientists about the nature of the current environmental crisis. Whether the earth is in crisis or not, and the extent to which such a crisis will affect mankind’s future, is something that few of us have the knowledge or skills to be able to make our own determination of fact, so we have come to rely on the environmental movement to educate and inform us. But keep in mind that they have a vested interest in maintaining a state of fear among the population – that’s what drives their government funding and charitable contributions and in fact, keeps many of them employed. So the message is to not simply take everything at face value but to question, question, and question some more. That’s not to say they are wrong, but keeping them honest is the only way we will ever get to the truth and be able to take whatever steps are required to manage our precious earth for generations to come.
Bottom line: If you’re a Crichton fan, you could do a lot worse for a good summer read, just don’t take the science too seriously as Crichton also has a vested interest.