This book, State of Fear by Michael Crichton, scares the crap out of me, and its not even a horror novel. The topic of the book? Global Warming. Now, it is a fiction novel, detailing a fictitous lawsuit against the EPA and a tangled web of espionage and adventure as the lawyer of a billionaire environmentalist gets pulled into a crazy plot to engineer difinative proof that global warming is a dire threat to all of humanity.
But why does it scare me? There is a point in most people’s lives when they finally come to an understanding of just how little we, the human race, really know about how our world works. And I am not talking about just a personal realization, because I had that many years ago when I discovered that I did not know everything. I am talking about how much science is going on and how little actual certainty there is about what they are studying, especially when it comes to complex systems like global climate.
The book reads like any other thriller type novel, but right at the beginning there is an author’s note that states “references to real people, institutions, and organizations that are documented in footnotes are accurate.” And the paperback copy of the book contains a 32 page bibliography. So while reading the book, I didn’t take everything Michael Crichton chose to spoon feed me. I looked up the books and articles and read some of them myself, and I read others not used in the book, and in doing this research I ultimately came to the same conclusions about the material as he did when it came to writing his book: the media and politicians exaggerate the hell out of conjecture and dish it up as solid fact. When you read a bunch of the data, you come to realize that it is very possible that we might one day have another ice age, or that we might have a global drought with searing heat, but that we cannot conclusively say which or what is going to happen because these is alot of data out there and it points in every conceivable direction and we do not know all the variables yet. Global warming could be very real, but right now we have evidence that supports it and refutes it, in fact if you restrict your view to the data that global warming supporters throw out you would be lead to believe that the planet is actually cooling. And what really gets to the core of why this book scares me is that the world is making policies based on conclusions that are not fully realized, that cannot be fully realized.
I highly recommend this book, and I also recommend reading up on what is really going on in the world. Do not settle for what the TV tells you.