State of Fear - a review

Back40 at Crumb Trail points to an excellent review of Michael Crichton's new book -- State of Fear -- from the review: bq. A Chilling Tale We know that nature can kill. What most people don't know is that stupid ideas about nature can kill, too. bq. In "State of Fear" (HarperCollins, 603 pages, $27.95), Michael Crichton delivers a lightning-paced technopolitical thriller that turns on a controversial notion: All that talk we've been hearing about global warming -- you know, polar ice caps melting, weather systems sent into calamitous confusion, beach weather lingering well into January -- might be at best misguided, at worst dead wrong. Think "The Da Vinci Code" with real facts, violent storms and a different kind of faith altogether. Some more: bq. For example, the climate computer models relied upon by global-warming proponents like Drake -- or, in real life, by John Adams (NRDC), Carl Pope (Sierra Club), Kevin Knobloch (Union of Concerned Scientists) and John Passacantando (Greenpeace USA) -- predict that such warming will be strongest at the earth's poles, turning glaciers into floods and raising sea levels. In "State of Fear," Drake warns that Greenland's ice cap is melting and will push the sea level up by 20 feet. (As it happens, on Wednesday of this week Sir David King, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, testified with similar alarm before a British legislative committee, saying: "If the ice-sheets in Greenland melt, sea levels would rise 6.5 metres and London would be underwater.") bq. Yet as Mr. Crichton has his scientist Kenner correctly note, Greenland's ice cap is in no imminent danger of melting away. It is well established scientifically that average temperatures in Greenland and Iceland have been falling at the rather steep rate of 2.2 degrees Celsius per decade since 1987. As for temperatures in most of Antarctica, they have been falling for nearly 50 years, and ice there has been accumulating rather than melting. And those sea levels? Nils-Axel M�rner, a professor of geodynamics at Stockholm University, has been studying the low-lying atolls of the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean. He has found "a total absence of any recent sea level rise" and has instead found evidence of a fall in sea level in the past 20 years -- a fact that Mr. Crichton has the good instinct to report in the course of pushing his plot forward. A bit more: bq. Of course, that didn't happen. In 1994, the World Conservation Union found known extinctions since 1600 to include only 258 animal species, 368 insect species and 384 vascular plants. Since the establishment of an endangered species list in the 1960s, only seven species have been declared extinct in the U.S.: four freshwater fish, a freshwater clam and two small birds. We mourn for them all, of course, including the clam, but we mourn all the more for the people duped by appalling scare tactics like those of Mr. Myers. Mr. Crichton gets the scare-mongers exactly right throughout "State of Fear." bq. Not that Mr. Crichton is 100% accurate. Kenner tells Morton's friend: "Environmental groups in the U.S. generate half a billion dollars a year." The actual amount for just the 12 largest environmental lobby groups in the U.S. in 2003 was $1.95 billion. That buys a lot of influence in the Washington. One way to mitigate its effect is to read "State of Fear" -- every bit as informative as it is entertaining. And it is very entertaining. Looks good... I'll have to add it to my local public library want list.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on December 13, 2004 8:50 PM.

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