Saturday, January 28, 2006

"State of Fear"

A friend lent me Michael Crichton's State of Fear, and I recently finished it. I don't read a lot of current fiction, but had heard interesting things about this volume ahead of time. In particular, Crichton takes to task the environmental movement (which is fully in line with my gut instincts). If you're skeptical about the book without having read it yet, let me quote some of the author's personal conclusions that helped inform his writing:

"We know astonishingly little about every aspect of the environment, from its past history, to its present state, to how to conserve and protect it. In every debate, all sides overstate the extent of existing knowledge and its degree of certainty.

"Before making expensive policy decisions on the basis of climate models, I think it is reasonable to require that those models predict future temperatures accurately for a period of ten years. Twenty would be better.

"I think for anyone to believe in impending resource scarcity, after two hundred years of such false alarms, is kind of weird. I don't know whether such a belief today is best ascribed to ignorance of history, sclerotic dogmatism, unhealthy love of Malthus, or simple pigheadedness, but it is evidently a hardy perennial in human calculation.

"There are many reasons to shift away from fossil fuels, and we will do so in the next century without legislation, financial incentives, carbon-conservation programs, or the interminable yammering of fearmongers. So far as I know, nobody had to ban horse transport in the early twentieth century.

"I conclude that most environmental 'principles' (such as sustainable development or the precautionary principle) have the effect of preserving the economic advantages of the West and thus constitute modern imperialism toward the developing world. It is a nice way of saying, 'We got ours and we don't want you to get yours, because you'll cause too much pollution.'

"I believe people are well intentioned. But I have great respect for the corrosive influence of bias, systematic distortions of thought, the power of rationalization, the guises of self-interest, and the inevitability of unintended consequences.

"Everybody has an agenda. Except me."

There are many more listed, but you get the idea.

The story itself is reasonably interesting. That, along with the well-founded skepticism about all things 'officially' environmental, earns this book a 'should-read' to anyone who wants to intelligently discuss environmentalism.

3 Comments:

Blogger Aizlynne said...

A reasonable approach. I know that meteorologists watching the hurricane season last year said it had little to do with global warming and more to do with weather patterns that come and go. They also stated that they haven't enough history to state categorically weather the increase is due to warming or not.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whaddya make of this?

Thursday, February 16, 2006 3:38:00 PM  
Blogger Cyrano said...

I was pretty interested by that article. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens as that legislation gets passed and then ruled on by the SCOTUS.

Friday, February 17, 2006 12:23:00 AM  

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