Death of a hero

Michael Crichton, best-selling author, has died of cancer at the age of 66.  It seems an eternity since his novel (with film and TV versions) “The Andromeda Strain” hit an unsuspecting world, though it was only 1971.  The story created a sensation on British television, with its state-of-the-art special effects.  Later he went on to other great successes, including Jurassic Park and the hit US TV series ER.
He was scientifically literate.  His typical approach to a novel was to take a big scientific idea — for example, the theoretical possibility of cloning an extinct creature, used to great effect in Jurassic Park — and to build a dramatic, fast-moving page-turner of a novel around it.  But his plots were always plausible, always backed by credible science.  Only in the last few days Japanese scientists have cloned mice from dead bodies frozen for 16 years — perhaps a step on the way to cloning extinct mammoths and other species.
For me, Crichton’s most exciting book was “State of Fear”, where his big scientific idea was global warming.  But the threat he saw came not from global warming itself, but from what he saw, rightly in my view, as the anti-scientific myth of global warming, and the way it is exploited by academics, the media and governments for their own ends.  While the book itself is fiction (and very good fiction), he provides footnotes to genuine, peer-reviewed scientific papers to support each science-based point he uses in the story.  Never be taken in, by the way, by the alarmist proposition that “There is not a single peer-reviewed scientific paper that challenges man-made global warming”.  There are, of course, hundreds.
Crichton not only challenges the science of climate alarmism throughout his first-class thriller.  He also sets out the philosophical and political background to the phenomenon, noting that governments help to justify their existence, and their budgets, by presenting themselves as the protectors of the people against some great external threat.  Until 1987, the Cold War provided a credible external enemy.  Now that the Soviet Union is gone, global warming conveniently supplies a new external threat that justifies a vast new regulatory and tax structure.  And for those reds and nihilists and foaming radicals in the West who hate capitalism, and used to sympathise with Moscow, climate alarmism gives them a new fig-leaf of an excuse for their hatred of capitalism.
Tragically, Crichton died relatively young.  But he has done us all a great service, and not only by providing brilliant entertainment.

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1 Response to Death of a hero

  1. He will be missed. We owe him a great deal, from fiction to fact. RIP

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