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Author Topic: State of Fear is brilliant  (Read 6897 times)
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« on: May 30, 2006, 03:20:53 am »
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By Michael Chrichton.  I hardly ever read fiction any more, but since this novel has academic citations I'll forgive myself the indulgence.  I no longer believe in global warming.  The book absolutely demolishes the arguments for global warming, and I checked up on the evidence presented and found it all to be correct.  "Global warming" as popularly presented, is simply ridiculous.

Highly recommended.

Thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2006, 07:18:41 pm »
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By Michael Chrichton.  I hardly ever read fiction any more, but since this novel has academic citations I'll forgive myself the indulgence.  I no longer believe in global warming.  The book absolutely demolishes the arguments for global warming, and I checked up on the evidence presented and found it all to be correct.  "Global warming" as popularly presented, is simply ridiculous.

Highly recommended.

Um... lol? *hopeful grin*
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2006, 08:41:06 pm »
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Care to give a short summary?  Global warming has always been a topic on which I've never really been positive of a whole lot.
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« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2006, 02:32:51 am »
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I think this is a pretty fair-handed (negative) analysis of the book.
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« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2006, 07:01:05 am »
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I think this is a pretty fair-handed (negative) analysis of the book.

Yup, which is why I'm hoping John is trying to be funny.  I love wunderground Grin
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« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2006, 12:08:49 am »
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Um... lol? *hopeful grin*

Not kidding.  I no longer believe in the idea of human driven climate change.  There can be no doubt that humans affect the environment around them (As do nearly all species), but global warming theory in its current form can no longer count me as a supporter.

Care to give a short summary?  Global warming has always been a topic on which I've never really been positive of a whole lot.

Summary of the book is that ELF (The Earth Liberation Front, a real life eco-terrorist group) is planning to fake a series of natural disasters so as to make global warming theory appear to be true.  For example, they detonate explosives in Antarctica and break off a large piece of sea ice to give the appearance of ice caps melting.  They do this with $10 million that was donated to an environmental chairty called NERF (A fictitious organization along the lines of the Sierra Club) by tycoon George Morton.  ELF and NERF launder the money and use it finance ELF's eco-terrorism.

The bulk of the book focuses on MIT scientist John Kenner's efforts to unravel this conspiracy.  The book is divided neatly into action/story sequences where Kenner travels the globe chasing bad guys, evading headhunters, flying helicopters, and the like.  Along for the journey are George Morton's lawyer, an earnest environmentalist named Peter Evans, and Morton's personal assistant, the tall blonde Sarah Evans.  You see, Morton had suspected that his money was being laundered, and his closer confidantes help Kenner to fight the terrorists.

The second type of sequence in the book is a series of debates/discussions that Kenner has with Peter Evans.  Evans believes in global warming, Kenner does not.  Complete with academic citations and in-text temperature charts, Kenner casts doubts on Evans' faith in global warming.  Later, Kenner does this with actor/activist Ted Bradley (A charicatured cross of Martin Sheen and Michael Douglas).

The story is fairly thin, and many parts of it are never really explained fully.  The book is all a vehicle for Chricton's Kenner to convert the earnest eco-lawyer Evans and embarrass the ignorant actor Bradley.  The case Kenner makes is incredibly persuasive.

The highlights of Kenner's argument are:

1. Despite television reports, sea levels are not rising rapidly.  They rise at only about 4 millimeters per year, or about 20 centimeters in the last hundred years.  Alarmist predictions such as the reports that the island nation of Vanuatu will be totally submerged to be baseless.  The oceans around Vanuatu show no major rise in sea levels this century.

2. Glaciers and ice caps are not melting due to human activity.  Glaciers have been melting for thousands of years.  They are not permanent features of the Earth, but rather remnants of the last ice age.  Most of them were formed during the ice age, and have slowly been melting ever since.  Glacier melt precedes large scale industry, and cannot be due entirely to human emmissions.  Antarctica actually has more ice on it today than it did 25 years ago when we started closely measuring.  Reports of Antarctica losing ice come entirely from the Antarctic Peninsula, which comprises only 2% of the continent's area.  The rest of Antarctica is actually gaining ice.  Antarctica has 90% of the world's ice, so the fact that Antarctica is not melting but rather getting colder means a lot in this debate.

3. Global temperature increases should not be seen as a result of CO2 in the atmosphere.  There simply isn't a correlation between CO2 and temperature increases.  Between 1945 and 1980, the Earth's temperature fell even as CO2 levels were rising.  If there were a strict correlation between CO2 and temperature, this would not be true.  It would be better to understand global temperature increase as a function of other factors.  The first is the end of the "Little Ice Age".  This was a period beteen 1500 and 1850 when the Earth was cooling.  This ended in 1850 or so, and since then the Earth has gotten slightly warmer.  The warming of the last 150 years is the natural swinging back of the pendulum after this abnormally cold period.  The colder temperatures of the 18th Century are the anomaly, not the warmer temperatures of today.  The second factor is land us.  In 1850, New York City was five degrees colder than it is today.  Yet the surrounding smaller cities are no warmer.  Albany, for example, only 150 miles from New York City, is almost exactly the temperature is was in 1850.  Why?  As it turns out, cities are much warmer than rural areas because of the steel and blacktop.  As New York grew, so did its temperature, while smaller more suburban rural areas stayed relatively unchanged.  The is called the "Urban Heat Island Effect", and it has drastically distorted global temperature measurements.  Cities have grown tremendously in the 20th Century, and these cities have gotten drastically warmer due to this growth, but we don't see corresponding increases in temperatures in most rural areas.  So, we might conclude that the rise in average temperatures is not an atmospheric phenomenon spread evenly throughout the world, but rather a localized phenomenon driven by land use patterns.  Third, the further back you go the less accurate the temperature records are.  That one is pretty self explainatory.

There's a lot in this 600 page book obviously, and there is obviously more depth in just the areas I've talked about than what I say here.  But that would be the Cliff's Notes version of Chricton's anti-warming argument.

I think this is a pretty fair-handed (negative) analysis of the book.

I would harly call that fair-handed.  It's not even close, given that the reviewer admits to having skipped much of the scientific discussion because his attention scan was inadequate ("I found myself skipping page after page of his characters' interminable griping to get to the action parts.".

And it is riddled with inaccuracies.  A perfect example of inaccuracies and misrepresentations in this review is Masters' attribution to Chricton of a belief in a "politico-legal-media complex".  This is not Chrichton's view, but the view of one character in the book, Professor Hoffman!  How can you say this review is fair minded when it attributes the fictitious views of fictional characters as being the authors actual views?  Chrichton outlines his own views in a appendix to the book, and nowhere does Chrichton say he believes a politico-legal-media complex is orchestrating global warming paranoia.  Steven Spielberg has made movies with characters that are Nazis, does that make him a Nazi?  This illogic is so ludicrous it defies parody!

Of even greater self-parody is the reviewer's reliance on the INtergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report (IPCC) issued by the UN.  Chrichton points out in his book that this report is not to be trusted (It must have been in one of the sections the reviewer decided to skip).  It was written by scientists who intentionally chose not to claim that global warming was proven, and it was re-written by UN bureacrats after the scientists had left the conference.  Many protested the re-writing of a report in their names by bureacrats with no scientific or technical training.  Yet this highly politicized document is the basis for nearly all the scientific criticisms the reviewer makes of Chrichton's supposed errors.

The reviewer goes on to point out the predictions of IPCC computer models and other computer models for the future of cliamte change.  Again, Chrichton has pre-emptively refuted this point in his book (Again, this is why you shouldn't skip so many section to get to the action part).  He points to the many earlier predictions made about climate change.  He points to the 1970s hysteria that the Earth was cooling, a hysteria I discussed earlier.  He points to computer models in the early 1990s that tried to predict the next 15 years.  Now that these years are past us, we see that these models were not even close to the actual cliamte records.  If I claim the Heat will beat the Pistons in basketball tommorrow night, this does not prove the Heat will beat the Pistons.  It is merely a guess, albeit an educated one, about what will happen in the future.  The fact that I think the Heat will beat the Pistons does not prove the Heat will beat the Pistons.  We can know the past, but we can't predict the future, and only a fool would say that Chrichton's description of our past and present is refuted by a computer prediction of the future, especially given the woeful track record of such models.

That guy's Kung-Fu is weak.  Chrichton's Kung-Fu is strong.
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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2006, 08:39:24 pm »
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So you believe a science fiction writer over a meteorologist, along with about 99% of the scientific community.

Mmmmmmmmmkayyyyyyyy...

*shakes head* I'm sorry man, but my respect for you has just plummeted.
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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2006, 08:49:20 pm »
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OMG NOT YOU TOO!!! My friend came under the same false assumption that global warming doesnt exist thanks to this book by, the FICTION AUTHOR, Michael however you spell his last name. But i love his other books, you know, the fiction ones?
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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2006, 08:53:36 pm »
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Heres another bashing-i mean review.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4319574.stm
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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2006, 11:41:46 pm »
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Michael Chrichton has an MD from Harvard, graduating Summa Cum Laude.  He was a lecturer in Anthropology at Cambridge.  He also held a fellowship position at the Salk Institute.  His academic and scientific credentials far exceed those of you beloved intertnet weather man.

Many great scientific minds have written fiction, even science fiction.  Carl Sagan is all too easy an example.  Far more outrageous is the example of the famed Cal Tech physicist Richard Feynman, whose book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" includes tips on how to seduce cocktail waitresses.

The idea that Chrichton's success as a writer of fiction precludes him from becoming accomplished at anything else is patently ridiculous.

So you believe a science fiction writer over a meteorologist, along with about 99% of the scientific community.

Mmmmmmmmmkayyyyyyyy...

*shakes head* I'm sorry man, but my respect for you has just plummeted.

It is wrong to say that 99% of scientists believe in global warming.

It is also wrong to argue to authority, especially when your authority figure admits he didn't even read the science part of the book because he was only interested in the action parts.

If you really have a problem with what I'm saying, address the substance instead of wishing away the evidence because its presenter writes fiction.

OMG NOT YOU TOO!!! My friend came under the same false assumption that global warming doesnt exist thanks to this book by, the FICTION AUTHOR, Michael however you spell his last name. But i love his other books, you know, the fiction ones?

Again, if you want to respond to the evidence, please do, but the fact that all you can do so far is stammer repeatedly that Chrichton writes fiction (This particular work of fiction had 20 pages of academic citations, mind you) then I am going to have a hard time taking your views too seriously.
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2006, 12:39:50 am »
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Unless "MD" stands for "meteorology degree," that just proves that he's a smart guy (which no one's contesting), but I still think the majority opinion of those in the meteorological field should - at least initially - be held in greater regard.

The idea is not that his success as a writer precludes him from being accomplished in something else.  The idea is that his not being a meteorologist and not having studied the field makes his deep hobbyist opinion slightly less educated than those who have spent their entire lives in the meteorological field of study.
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2006, 12:48:32 am »
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Unless "MD" stands for "meteorology degree," that just proves that he's a smart guy (which no one's contesting), but I still think the majority opinion of those in the meteorological field should - at least initially - be held in greater regard.

The idea is not that his success as a writer precludes him from being accomplished in something else.  The idea is that his not being a meteorologist and not having studied the field makes his deep hobbyist opinion slightly less educated than those who have spent their entire lives in the meteorological field of study.

Again, this is an argument to authority.  It doesn't even attempt to address the scientific substance of Chrichton's points.  In any debate you can find some expert who agrees with your side which is why the argument to authority is called a fallacy in the first place.

Substance, please.
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« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2006, 01:26:31 am »
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Unless "MD" stands for "meteorology degree," that just proves that he's a smart guy (which no one's contesting), but I still think the majority opinion of those in the meteorological field should - at least initially - be held in greater regard.

The idea is not that his success as a writer precludes him from being accomplished in something else.  The idea is that his not being a meteorologist and not having studied the field makes his deep hobbyist opinion slightly less educated than those who have spent their entire lives in the meteorological field of study.

Again, this is an argument to authority.  It doesn't even attempt to address the scientific substance of Chrichton's points.  In any debate you can find some expert who agrees with your side which is why the argument to authority is called a fallacy in the first place.

Substance, please.

I am not saying that it makes it correct, so, no, I am not arguing argument to authority.  I would, however, like to a see a response to TheLoneLiberal's review, which seems plausible to me.
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« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2006, 02:32:07 am »
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First of all, Michael Crichton is an excellent novelist, and I've read a number of his books.  State of Fear is not one of his best works, but it is still good.  He is a novelist, and State of Fear is not intended to be a text book.

Second, the WU criticizes what a character in his book says.  That is fiction and it isn't claimed as being anything else.

Crichton also includes a nonfiction appendix at the end, where does offer his opinions.  Some of his opinions are, that "part of the observed surface will ultimately be attributable to human activity (paperback p. 626)."  He also notes that there has been no real study of "wilderness (p. 628)," and that we don't have good modeling of climate changes (p. 626).

Some of observations (and I will not call the opinions) is that the level of CO2 is increasing, and that temperatures have rising since c. 1850, since the cooling period known as the "Little Ice Age."  How much is natural and how much man-made is the question.

He then goes to talk about more systematic and more non partisan funded research on climate change issues (pp. 628-9).  The particular problem here is that 99% of the scientific community are not certain of the amount of increase in global temperature is being caused by human activity in general or by CO2 in particular.

Look at these two examples.  First, the world got go warmer in the between AD 800-1400, to a point where it was warmer (1300's) than any time until the 20th Century.  Second, global temperature dropped between 1400-1850.  The only thing we can say about this is that it was not due to industrialization; there was none.  There was some other cause and we do not know the mechanisms that caused either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_warm_period
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« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2006, 02:49:27 am »
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Well, I hope John as well as others realize I'm no fan of enviro-fear mongerers.  I dismiss a lot of what is said since we really don't have much of a basis for what's being said.  However one thing has to be asked.  Although I don't believe human activity has done much wrong for the environment (as least in comparrison to which most say).  One observation needs to be challenged in order to dismiss human interaction in global warming.  Since the Earth's formation there have been many ice ages.  The larger deal of time was made of of 90% ice age, 10% warmth (like we have now).  The warmer periods where the earth isn't mostly glacially covered last around 10,000 years.  Right now, we're over due for another ice age-but there's not one currently happening.  Now it may be just a loose corelation, but human development has been incredibly high over the past 10,000 years, primarily with the agricultural revolution.  The revolution has led to a significant change in the carbon cycle-which thus is assumed to be the cause of the warmer Earth now (as we are due for an ice age now).  I'm pretty convinced that this is the case-because of farming (and of course other factors by human presence) the Earth has not cooled off and receeded to ice age.  Can you or the book refute this?
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« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2006, 03:22:04 am »
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I had a lengthy post on this topic on another thread, so I won't copy it all here. What I will mention is that until about three years ago I was quite a skeptic of the causal relation between human effects and warming. The paper I cite in the above link I found to be an excellent study to answer exactly that question. The study found that both natural and human effects played a role, and I don't find their conclusions particularly extremist. However, many who read them cannot escape the evidence for human contribution to warming, and this leads to more dramatic statements in the media.
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« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2006, 11:01:24 am »
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Yes.  Even if global warming is not completely human-based (and its not), since when does that preclude the need for we as a species to prepare for said global warming, and to insure that as many species as possible survive said warming?  As far as I'm concerned, we're here bickering about whose fault it is that the Titanic struck an iceberg while Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet are sloshing around in the chilly North Atlantic waiting for a lifeboat Wink
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« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2006, 01:47:48 pm »
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Yes.  Even if global warming is not completely human-based (and its not), since when does that preclude the need for we as a species to prepare for said global warming, and to insure that as many species as possible survive said warming?  As far as I'm concerned, we're here bickering about whose fault it is that the Titanic struck an iceberg while Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet are sloshing around in the chilly North Atlantic waiting for a lifeboat Wink

I'm all for environmental protections.  I live in Los Angeles, you don't have to tell me the air and water is too dirty.  But, I am completely against justifying those environmental protections with fear-mongering, which is what a lot of global warming advocates are doing.

In any case, global warming theory is that global warming is human driven, and that CO2 emissions cause rising temperatures, it's a very specific thing.  Believing in an ever changing climate does not oblige me to believe in this global warming theory.
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« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2006, 09:29:23 pm »
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You know all you Republicans, sorry if some of you have crossed lines, are having the exact opposite problem with The Da Vinci Code. Both are f-ing works of fiction. just get over it.
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« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2006, 09:37:20 pm »
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So you believe a science fiction writer over a meteorologist, along with about 99% of the scientific community.

Mmmmmmmmmkayyyyyyyy...

*shakes head* I'm sorry man, but my respect for you has just plummeted.

He's a science hater, he doesn't believe in evolution.
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« Reply #20 on: June 03, 2006, 09:43:31 pm »
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I had a lengthy post on this topic on another thread, so I won't copy it all here. What I will mention is that until about three years ago I was quite a skeptic of the causal relation between human effects and warming. The paper I cite in the above link I found to be an excellent study to answer exactly that question. The study found that both natural and human effects played a role, and I don't find their conclusions particularly extremist. However, many who read them cannot escape the evidence for human contribution to warming, and this leads to more dramatic statements in the media.


Obviously there's a variety of things that can influence the global climate in possibly non-linear ways. However, CO2 is the dominant greenhouse gas, and ice samples have shown it to be fairly correlated with temperature. Together with experiments that show greenhouse gases effects on temperature, we can assume some causality.
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« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2006, 01:12:55 pm »
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So you believe a science fiction writer over a meteorologist, along with about 99% of the scientific community.

Mmmmmmmmmkayyyyyyyy...

*shakes head* I'm sorry man, but my respect for you has just plummeted.

He's a science hater, he doesn't believe in evolution.

Since no one has ever adequately explained the medhanism by which genetics change in response to the environment, no I cannot believe fully in evolution.
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« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2006, 02:27:54 pm »
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So you believe a science fiction writer over a meteorologist, along with about 99% of the scientific community.

Mmmmmmmmmkayyyyyyyy...

*shakes head* I'm sorry man, but my respect for you has just plummeted.

He's a science hater, he doesn't believe in evolution.

Since no one has ever adequately explained the medhanism by which genetics change in response to the environment, no I cannot believe fully in evolution.

They don't change in response to the environment.  For instance, the fish in the ocean did not develop legs because there was a need to go on land.  The fish in the ocean instead developed a random mutation, proto-legs, which just happened to aid in their survival, probably by letting them run onto land for short times to escape from predators.  Those fish thus lived longer, allowing them to reproduce more, thus propagating that freak mutation.  Over time, more and more random mutations built up to the point where fish could walk on land.

That's a bit simplistic, but eh.  The point is, mutations do not occur as a response to the environment (with the exception of radiation, but that was rather rare before humans).  They may develop mutations that allow them to live longer in the environment in which they live (or in some cases, in different environments), but the mutations to not come about because of the environment.
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« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2006, 02:36:41 pm »
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So you believe a science fiction writer over a meteorologist, along with about 99% of the scientific community.

Mmmmmmmmmkayyyyyyyy...

*shakes head* I'm sorry man, but my respect for you has just plummeted.

He's a science hater, he doesn't believe in evolution.

In Crichton's case, it is exceptionally hard to call someone who says, "We need more people working in the field, in the actual environment, and fewer people behind computer screens (p. 628 of the paperback)." and then goes on to call for a "nonpartisan, blinded funding mechanism to conduct research to determine appropriate policy (p. 629)," as being a "science hater."  Those are his personal views in the "Author's Message" section.

That said, State of Fear is a work of fiction.  It may mirror the society, to an extent, but it is still a work of fiction.  It is a good book, however, to read and then ask questions. (So is the Da Vinci Code, for that matter.)

For example, I would have stated that sea level rising at a much greater than it is, had it not been for the fiction part of the book.  That prompted me to look some stuff up, but I didn't believe it because State of Fear says it.
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« Reply #24 on: June 04, 2006, 03:14:34 pm »
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Here is an example of something that should be considered.  The first chart is the deperature and CO2 levels for the last about 18,000 years.



The second is sea level increases:
   

CO2 was increasing from 18,000 BP until about 13,500; then it stopped until 11,500.  What happened?  Both sea level and temperature began to rise prior to CO2 level rising (for about 1000 years).  Then all three jumped.

Then what happened?  Sea level rose, temperature fluctuated, but stayed in the same range, and CO2 decreased.  Then temperatures peaked, to 2 degrees C above the baseline, just before 8,000 BP.  CO2 levels dropped slightly, sea level continued to increase.

I'm sorry, but this isn't exactly a strong correlation.  There has to be some mechanism(s) that we don't understand.
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J. J.

"Actually, .. now that you mention it...." 
- Londo Molari

"Every government are parliaments of whores.
The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us." - P. J. O'Rourke

"Wa sala, wa lala."

(Zulu for, "You snooze, you lose.")
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