Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, and Congo (among many others) recently published State of Fear. Unlike most works of fiction, this book has added fire to a real-life debate. In this case, it is global warming.

Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, and Congo (among many others) recently published State of Fear. Unlike most works of fiction, this book has added fire to a real-life debate. In this case, it is global warming.

The plot starts with Vanutu, a fictional island in the Pacific, which is preparing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States. They claim the low elevation of their island puts it at risk with the rising waters caused by global warming. And they site the United States as the primary cause.

Crichton weaves a complex story of mysterious deaths and corrupt politics. Though a thick book, State of Fear is an easy read with a great story line. Crichton fans won’t be disappointed.

As with any good novel, it is filled with conflict between the good guys and the bad guys. At times, that conflict seems a bit overblown from the real world, but not completely unbelievable.

Global warming is presented as a tool used by some scientists and politicians to further their own gain. The trouble really heats up when a scientist in Iceland reveals that the temperatures in his country, as well as in Greenland, were actually warmer in the first half of the twentieth century and colder in the last half – with the glaciers in Iceland now advancing instead of retreating. Those with much to gain by promoting global warming go to diabolical measures to hide the truth.

Though a fictional story, this book has ignited a flame of controversy in the scientific and political communities. Crichton challenges the underlying science of global warming, drawing into question the theory’s reliance on computer modeling and, as he sees it, the politics behind it. In an unusual approach for a novel, he supplies footnotes throughout the book referring to actual studies.

Here’s where I took a sudden turn. Instead of doing a simple book review, I found myself digging into the whole global warming debate. The people on both sides of this issue have very strong feelings. In fact, I would say the State of Fear is as threatening to some scientific/political interests as The Da Vinci Code is to Christians.

You will find a plethora of believer and skeptic blogs covering the global warming debate. The issue really boils down to two main questions: Is global warming happening, and if so, is it anthropogenic (man-made)?

The proponents of global warming offer arguments based on a large consensus among scientists, and those against the theory argue that the scientific basis is flawed.

After close study, my thoughts on the debate lie somewhere between these two extremes; which, I’m sure, will get me a lot of negative comments from both sides.

Crichton suggests through his story (and a lecture at the California Institute of Technology) that global warming is a fallacy caused by the infusion of politics into the scientific process. Though he feels we still need to be responsible with our use of resources and the reduction of pollution, he contends that we live on a planet of cyclical temperature change and that the chaotic nature of our atmosphere prevents us from predicting future weather patterns.

My blood-shot eyes are a testament to the amount of research this book has sent me on. My own conclusions are that global warming is happening, but not universally. I believe it is part of the earth’s natural cycle and not generally caused by mankind. At the same time, however, we can have an effect on the warming and weather changes in small, localized areas.

I would highly recommend Crichton’s book. It is a great read. Perhaps you’ll enjoy it simply for its entertainment value. Or, perhaps, it will send you on a quest to draw your own conclusions about global warming. Be warned though, you might lose lots of sleep and go through an inordinate quantity of Visine.

Jim Wright Smith is a writer/photographer. His personal blog, Nonlinear Brain, includes book reviews, musings on life changes, and anything that hits his brain and drops onto his blog – brain droppings as he calls them.

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