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February 2005



Michael Crichton's State of Fear: Climate Change in the Cineplex?


by Amy Ridenour

 

If you count the two "sequels" spawned by the original Jurassic Park, no less than 13 of Michael Crichton's page-turning thrillers have delighted moviegoers around the globe.

From The Andromeda Strain in 1971 through 2003's Timeline, films based on Crichton novels have grossed more than $3 billion while DVD sales continue to fill the industry's coffers.

Which brings us to today's burning question: Will Hollywood put profit ahead of ideology and turn Crichton's current best-seller, State of Fear into what could be a blockbuster?

An interesting question because State of Fear thoroughly debunks four of Tinseltown's most repeated environmental shibboleths:

One, that Mother Earth is on the verge of entering a period of rampant global warming with rising temperatures of 8 to 10 degrees triggering a series of catastrophic storms, droughts, quake and floods.

Two, the hypothetical extreme warming - there's no evidence that it is happening - is caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other so-called greenhouse gasses.

Three, that any group with words "green" or "environmental" in its title is inherently good and worthy of the artistic community's philosophical and financial support - no matter how deleterious their policies may be to actual working Americans.

And four, that the capitalistic system that allows Hollywood's biggest players to earn millions of dollars annually and more than a dozen U.S. environmental groups to maintain luxurious headquarters and huge executive salaries is somehow how evil, corrupt and responsible for every bit of ecological degradation that occurs on this planet.

The environmental community and their la-la land allies are having a difficult time responding to Crichton's challenges to their comfortable and usually unquestioned beliefs.

The chief reason is that he and his publisher, Harper Collins, had the foresight to include pages of footnotes, charts and two lengthy appendixes that back up his assertions with scientific documentation contained in new studies by researchers at such prestigious institutions as Harvard, Virginia, MIT and Michigan.

Because of that, global warming alarmists have been relied on ad hominem attacks suggesting, for example, that Crichton is himself "a capitalist stooge." So far, such cowardly assaults have only increased sales for State of Fear, which, as it turns out, is a good thing for the overall advancement of knowledge.

Crichton presents abundant scientific evidence that neither the Earth's temperatures nor sea levels are rising.

Many of his opponents, meanwhile, are citing outdated and flawed computer models that project cataclysmic disaster by the end of the century. Global warming alarmists have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade reinforcing those projections with what chiefly amount to press releases filled with dire warnings.

Hollywood could enhance its long-tarnished reputation with American movie buffs and encourage an open debate on global warming by honestly presenting State of Fear and its ideas in thousands of theaters around the country.

Crichton's novel is, after all, chock full of all the elements that Hollywood moguls usually crave: Ruthless power grabs by nefarious villains, lethal new hazards at every turn, mayhem and gore galore, handsome young men and gorgeous young women devoted to both the American way and unbridled hedonism.

As Dr. H. Sterling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis recently observed:

"In the past, Crichton's scientific lens has been trained on topics such as genetic engineering, and environmentalists loved it since the novels were cautionary tales in the vein of "Frankenstein," warning of humanity's overreaching and violating the 'laws of nature.'

However, now it is Crichton's scientific acumen that seems to be the central cause for the environmentalists' venom," Burnett says. " Crichton exposes serious problems the climate models that predict warming. The models don't accurately portray past or current temperature reality, so why should their predictions about the future warming be trusted, much less used to inform public policy?"

Don't expect the Sierra Club or the World Wildlife Fund to bankroll this potential moneymaker.

It will be interesting, indeed, to see if greediness actually trumps greenness in this case.

Surely, you say, some brave iconoclast will break ranks with Hollywood's legions of intellectual goosesteppers and step forward to make this entertaining - and thought-provoking - film.

Don't hold your breath.

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Amy Ridenour is president of The National Center for Public Policy Research. Comments may be sent to [email protected].


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