Common-Sense Environmentalist

Published January 1, 2009

Bestselling author Michael Crichton died on November 4 after a courageous and private battle against cancer. He was a highly successful writer and filmmaker, best known as the author of the 1990 novel and subsequent Hollywood film Jurassic Park and creator of the critically acclaimed television series ER.

The underlying message of Jurassic Park, that there are risks as well as rewards associated with rapid technological progress, made Crichton a longtime favorite of anti-technology environmentalists. Those groups turned on him, however, after he culminated years of scientific research on global warming with his 2004 best-selling novel, State of Fear, which exposed unseemly financial and political motives behind much of the modern environmental movement.

In State of Fear, Crichton seamlessly summarized and footnoted real-world scientific data and studies documenting the global warming crisis as a worldwide hoax perpetrated to increase its advocates’ economic and political power, presenting the subject matter in the form of a heart-pounding suspense story.

Crichton paid a high price in vitriolic professional and personal attacks for writing a novel pointing out the flaws in alarmist global warming theory, but he never regretted writing the novel, as it represented his strong scientific convictions.

Big Victor in Debate

In March 2007 Crichton joined Massachusetts Institute of Technology meteorology professor Richard Lindzen and University of London emeritus professor of biogeography Philip Stott in a nationally broadcast debate against three of the most prominent scientists who claim humans are creating a global warming crisis. A poll of audience members in attendance at New York City’s prestigious Intelligence Squared debating society prior to the debate showed the audience believed, by a two-to-one margin, that humans are creating a global warming crisis.

After the six experts presented the scientific data, gave their arguments, and took questions from the moderator and the audience, minds were clearly changed: The assembly voted humans are in fact not creating a global warming crisis.

Largely due to this resounding victory by Crichton and his team, prominent proponents of alarmist global warming theory now only rarely agree to debate global warming science publicly with skeptics.

Crichton graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College, received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He taught courses in anthropology at Cambridge University and writing at MIT.

His many talents and great courage will be missed.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News.