Nothing ever burns down by itself…

May/June 2005 Issue

“WHEN NOVELIST MICHAEL CRICHTON took the stage before a lunchtime crowd in Washington, D.C., one Friday in late January, the event might have seemed, at first, like one more unremarkable appearance by a popular author with a book to sell. Indeed, Crichton had just such a book, his new thriller, State of Fear. But the content of the novel, the setting of the talk, and the audience who came to listen transformed the Crichton event into something closer to a hybrid of campaign rally and undergraduate seminar. State of Fear is an anti-environmentalist page-turner in which shady ecoterrorists plot catastrophic weather disruptions to stoke unfounded fears about global climate change. However fantastical the book’s story line, its author was received as an expert by the sharply dressed policy wonks crowding into the plush Wohlstetter Conference Center of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI). In his introduction, AEI president and former Reagan budget official Christopher DeMuth praised the author for conveying “serious science with a sense of drama to a popular audience.” The title of the lecture was “Science Policy in the 21st Century.”…

…But it was the emcee, Senator Inhofe, who best represented the spirit of the event. Stating that Crichton’s novel should be “required reading,” the ruddy-faced senator asked for a show of hands to see who had finished it. He attacked the “hockey stick” graph and damned the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment for having “no footnotes or citations,” as indeed the ACIA “overview” report—designed to be a “plain language synthesis” of the fully referenced scientific report—does not. But never mind, Inhofe had done his own research. He whipped out a 1974 issue of Time magazine and, in mocking tones, read from a 30-year-old article that expressed concerns over cooler global temperatures. In a folksy summation, Inhofe again called the notion that humans are causing global warming “a hoax,” and said that those who believe otherwise are “hysterical people, they love hysteria. We’re dealing with religion.” Having thus dismissed some 2,000 scientists, their data sets and temperature records, and evidence of melting glaciers, shrinking islands, and vanishing habitats as so many hysterics, totems, and myths, Inhofe vowed to stick up for the truth, as he sees it, and “fight the battle out on the Senate floor.”

Seated in the front row of the audience, former ExxonMobil lobbyist Randy Randol looked on approvingly.”


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