He was a major part of my adolescence, I kid you not. I read Jurassic Park over and over when the movie came out, excited as any young man would be at the thought of reviving the dinosaurs. I also devoured Sphere and The Andromeda Strain. His science fiction was so accessible, and yet surprisingly plausible. Plausible enough, at least, for me to imagine that I might be feeding a hadrosaur out of my hand in ten years. (I didn’t know very much then.)
Then State of Fear came along. I know that fiction is fiction, but I’ve heard enough people mention it to me in defense of global warming denialism to dismiss the “It’s only a story” line. I was thrown into cognitive dissonance. I had always thought he had a grip on the science. What was going on?
It seems as though he really believes the schlock that pads that book. This Audobon profile of him has a lot of relevant information. The worst, however, came from a Scientific American podcast from November 6, 2007: the interviewee mentioned that, in a Senate hearing, Crichton confidently asserted that he knew the climate change issue better than the National Academy of Sciences.
Just a touch of egotism, perhaps?
This is confusing, as the case for human-influenced climate change is scientifically all but unassailable. We know that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, this is simple physics. We know that the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are increasing at a rate that is unprecedented in Earth’s known history. We also know that most of this carbon dioxide is produced by human activity. What is there to misunderstand here?
Another fond childhood memory has been lost. My estimation of Michael Crichton has been irreparably shattered.
If the new Indiana Jones movie sucks, I’ll have nothing left.