A View from David Appell

Realclimate vs. Crichton

Michael Crichton, a mere science fiction novelist, has written State of Fear, a supposed countermeasure to what he sees as the scare tactics of environmentalists concerned about global warming. The climatologists at Realclimate have been taking on Crichton’s false and…

  • December 27, 2004

Michael Crichton, a mere science fiction novelist, has written State of Fear, a supposed countermeasure to what he sees as the scare tactics of environmentalists concerned about global warming. The climatologists at Realclimate have been taking on Crichton’s false and misleading claims, and with them his sycophant George Will.

Crichton’s conclusion is that global warming is not a problem. Gavin Schmidt at Realclimate takes him on first, deflating Crichton’s claims about the cooling period between 1940 and 1970, his claim that selected cool spots negate global warming (which is concerned with globally defined averages), his mischaracterization of the particulars of sea-level rise, and other scientific points. The upshot of Schmidt’s argument is that in several important ways Crichton has either misrepresented the science or failed to appreciate its nuances, and that the science, done properly, is well-represented by the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report published in 2001. Michael Mann has more to say about Crichton here.

Along comes George Will, who is not a scientist either, to opine on Crichton in particular and global warming in general. Surprise, surprise, but Will also fails to understand important scientific points and mischaracterizes the situation; Realclimate responds here and here.

Why the world is willing to pay attention to what novelists and political pundits think about the complex science behind global climate change is a subject for another day.

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