Michael Crichton, one of the world’s most popular authors and a pioneer of modern science fiction, died yesterday at age 66 following a long battle with cancer. His ubiquitous books, including Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, helped elevate science to a new status in pop culture, and ushered new technologies such as cloning into the mainstream. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, he also brought medicine to the forefront of entertainment by creating the TV show “ER,” which won him an Emmy, a Peabody Award, and a Writer’s Guild of America Award.
But while his career was unparalleled and his brilliance unquestionable, Crichton inspired a good deal of controversy concerning a crucial issue: global warming. His skepticism over the threat of climate change was so great that it culminated in a novel, State of Fear, published in 2004. The book, a typical Crichton-style thriller, revolves around an evil environmentalist mastermind who commits terrorist acts to center attention on climate change. It features footnotes, graphs, and other references culled from the three years the author spent researching the topic—all reflecting Crichton’s view that the current rising global temperatures aren’t necessarily a result of human action.
The book, and Crichton’s views, have garnered plenty of criticism and dismay from climate experts and researchers, many of whom pointed out that the studies referenced in the novel had in fact been included and analyzed within the peer-reviewed scientific assessment of global warming—the same process that concluded climate change was both a threat to humanity, and caused by man. While the book did incite healthy debate and draw attention to the issue, it also provided fuel for global warming deniers looking to squelch the existing scientific evidence.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the work, and Crichton’s efforts to discuss counterpoints to the scientific consensus, was that it helped thrust the issue firmly to the forefront of public discussion, where it undeniably remains today.
Links to this Post
- The Top 10 “Most Respected” Global Warming Skeptics | Discoblog | Discover Magazine | August 4, 2009
- PianoFan | November 7, 2009