I want to like Michael Crichton

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.

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7 Responses to “I want to like Michael Crichton”

  1. Linkage Says:

    Why is your childhood memory lost?
    This is something I’ll never understand: the ruining of past goodness based on present crap. Is “Jurassic Park” a terrible book now because Michael Crichton has been shown as an idiot in one specific subject? Will “Raiders of the Lost Ark” suddenly become worthless if the new movie fails?
    Don’t taint your old memories by equating them with this lackluster new stuff.

  2. Michael Young Says:

    We don’t know that greenhouse warming is actually taking place. There’s even reason to believe that greenhouse warming is _not_ taking place, since the pattern of actual warming in the atmosphere is low altitude warming in the northern hemisphere, while greenhouse warming would be high altitude warming in a band moving out from the equator.

    It’s perfectly consistent to believe there is increased carbon in the atmosphere, and that there is global warming, but that the warming has little to nothing to do with increased carbon. A summary of the argument can be found here: http://mises.org/story/2795

    I’m not convinced of either perspective, so I’d advocate another 20-30 years of study and data collection before making any radical policy shifts. I’m told that this view labels me as a global warming denier. >.<

  3. soulbiscuit Says:

    Don’t taint your old memories by equating them with this lackluster new stuff.

    Of course you’re right. I was being facetious, and maybe I shouldn’t have done. The first Jurassic Park is a fantastically entertaining novel (and became a really fun movie too.) It will always remain so, no matter what Crichton does in his later career.

    Just as Star Trek will remain great no matter what happens with the new movie, and the first three Indy films will remain so no matter what the fourth is like. (Have I just revealed what a nerd I am?)

  4. soulbiscuit Says:

    I’m told that this view labels me as a global warming denier. >.<

    Well, I’m not sure that holding off on judgment for the moment makes you a denier. But you must also know that the vast majority of scientists see global warming as an imminent problem. You might imagine an asteroid whose impact in a few years is certain. Of course they should want to mobilize people in favor of new policy.

    This in addition to the fact that, exclusive of global warming altogether, the emissions of most carbon emitting machines happen also to be poisonous. Reducing emissions is a “good thing,” warming or not.

    But I will read the argument you linked for me. Thanks for that! I might just learn something.

  5. soulbiscuit Says:

    It’s perfectly consistent to believe there is increased carbon in the atmosphere, and that there is global warming, but that the warming has little to nothing to do with increased carbon. A summary of the argument can be found here: http://mises.org/story/2795

    I read it, and I’m going to do some more research. I don’t see anything in there that explains away the simple physics of CO2 and its heat-trapping properties.

    That, in addition to the fact that 95+% of climate scientists are behind anthropogenic climate change, makes me perfectly willing to take measures to curb the problem.

  6. Wayne Robinson Says:

    Oh good, Michael Young says; “I’m not convinced of either perspective, so I’d advocate another 20-30 years of study and data collection before making any radical policy shifts. I’m told that this view labels me as a global warming denier.”
    I expect to be dead by then, so now I can go out and buy that Hummer I have always wanted.

  7. Wilmington Says:

    Thanks for some great thoughts there. I am kind of new to the internet , so I printed this off to put in my file, any better way to go about keeping track of it then printing?

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