Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ok, so I'm a little behind...

I just finished reading Michael Crichton's "State of Fear".

Wow. Just wow.

The story is his usual page-turning romp through a technological nightmare, where the resolution you thought was going to solve everything happens WAY too early to be an actual solution, and further serves to convolute the plot in a direction you hadn't anticipated. Simply amazing.

Crichton uses actual data to prove his point that the Global Warming issue has been blown out of proportion, and that we are actually on the cusp of another mini-ice age. All the while, he is shooting down arguments that environmentalists raise towards someone doubting what we have been told is a "real, dangerous threat".


Towards the end, one of the minor characters points out that before 1989, the words "crisis", "catastrophe", etc. were rarely associated with environmental causes in the media.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, something had to replace the fear of communism as a way of maintaining control.

The "Military-Industrial Complex" no longer is a safeguard that people cling to to protect them against the latest, seemingly insurmountable "bad guy".

Enter the "Political-Legal-Media Complex". The PLM seeks to control people by making them worry about something they have little hope of actually affecting, focusing them into kicking the goads. People are so worried about the environment, they don't think about other problems.

He also takes a swipe at the "liberal" colleges, claiming that this new complex is a "[factory] of fear". "The notion that these institutions [colleges] are liberal is a cruel joke. They are fascist to the core...."

As if to prove his point, just the other day, I opened slashdot to see there is talk of decertifying any weathermen who dare express skepticism towards global warming

Just a few months ago, the media were positively SCREAMING for us to transition to corn-based Ethanol for fuel, backed by Greenpeace and the like, yet recent research shows that for the land use that is required, filling the tank once could feed a person for a year

As another example, the DDT outrage that happened in the 70s has successfully banned the use of DDT, despite the fact that the research done was biased at best, and illegal at worst. DDT, which was known not to be a carcinogen, and innocuous enough to eat, ended up killing people as malaria flared back to life. In fact, DDT was so effective that WHO is reversing its ban, and now suggesting that it be used again to combat Malaria in Africa

He makes the claim that scientists have become like Renaissance painters of old, where the creation (in this case, research) is tailored to be as favorable as possible to the patron supplying the funding.

Crichton suggests "double-blind" funding for scientists, so that the scientists have no idea who is supplying the funding for experiments and simply do the research without bias.


I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book. It will challenge your commonly held notions on what is truly going on in the environmental movement.

I'll end with a quote from my scientific hero, Richard P. Feynman: "It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress which comes from a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom; to teach how doubt is not to be feared, but welcomed and discussed; and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations."

(Yes, it's a run-on sentence. He was a scientist, not an English Major.)

Side note: After reading this, I am deathly afraid of these things.. If you read it, you will be too. *shudder*

Another side note: a VERY thinly veiled Martin Sheen-esque character gets his in a way that is infinitely satisfying. Let's see him accept THAT script when it comes around!

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