Michael Crichton on Ignorant Alarmism

Or should that be alarmist ignorance? (Or risking overkill but most accurate of all, ignorant alarmists spreading alarmism stemming from ignorance.)

Crichton is an excellent novelist, and also a pretty good speaker. In 2005, he made a speech at the Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy. Click this link for the full text, with plenty of graphs and graphics. Excerpts I picked out follow at the bottom half.

Crichton gives lots of historical examples and documentation of past end-of-the-world scares. It’s amazing – and dusgusting – how incredibly similar the panicky language, poor data, demonizing of skeptics and sensationalist headlines are to today’s global warming fearmongering.

All in all, I am rebolstered in my opinion that the global warming champions of today consist of a mix of:

A) Hypocritical liars and conmen who purposeful midlead us for their own benefit;

B) Well-intentioned but misguided true believers in anthropogenic global warming;

C) Public and media who don’t know any facts at all but heartily follow the opinions of others;

D) People who are neutral or skeptical, but are cowed by the bullying and smearing tactics of the majority of global warming believers.

And 10 years down the road, whether the IPCC has bankrupted our economies and trashed our lives or not, nobody will remember what all the fuss over the disproven global warming theory was about. Just like how nobody thinks global cooling, the Y2K bug or DDT causing cancer are important issues anymore.

Crichton moves on to desribe how Yellowstone National Park was brutalized and irrevocably changed. Not by polluters or big oil… But by well-intentioned but totally inept, uninformed and arrogant environmental managers. And now the IPCC, with hardly an iota of real factual basis, wants to manage the entire world environment?

And the crux of Crichton’s speech: We must try and understand complexity theory, before we so haughtily (that means you, IPCC) attempt to manipulate the extremely complex system called the environment.

Except that it is haughtily arrogant to even think we, with our seevrly limited knowledge, could ever understand and predict the world environment.

For all we know (whichis exceedingly little), Al Gore’s solutions to climate change could bring about far more extreme climate catastrophe. Heck, his solutions ARE a catastrophe!


Edited excerpts from Complexity Theory and Environmental Management (by Michael Crichton):

In 1998, I set out to write a novel about a global disaster. In the course of my preparation, I rather casually reviewed what had happened in Chernobyl, since that was the worst manmade disaster in recent times that I knew about.

What I discovered stunned me. Chernobyl was a tragic event, but nothing remotely close to the global catastrophe I imagined. About 50 people had died in Chernobyl, roughly the number of Americans that die every day in traffic accidents. I don’t mean to be gruesome, but it was a setback for me. You can’t write a novel about a global disaster in which only 50 people die.

Once I looked at Chernobyl, I began to recall other fears in my life that had never come true. The population bomb, for one. Paul Ehrlich predicted mass starvation in the 1960s. Sixty million Americans starving to death. Didn’t happen. Other scientists warned of mass species extinctions by the year 2000. Ehrlich himself predicted that half of all species would become extinct by 2000. Didn’t happen. The Club of Rome told us we would run out of raw materials ranging from oil to copper by the 1990s. That didn’t happen, either.

All my life I worried about the decay of the environment, the tragic loss of species, the collapse of ecosystems. I feared poisoning by pesticides, alar on apples, falling sperm counts from endocrine disrupters, cancer from power lines, cancer from saccharine, cancer from cell phones, cancer from computer screens, cancer from food coloring, hair spray, electric razors, electric blankets, coffee, chlorinated water… it never seemed to end.


Familiar language, isn’t it? But it’s not about global warming, it’s about global cooling. Fear of a new ice age. Anybody here worried about a new ice age? Anybody upset we didn’t act now, back then, to stockpile food and do all the other things we were warned we had to do?


That one is talking about Y2K. By now everybody has forgotten Y2K. What actually happened on January 1, 2000? Essentially, nothing.

But notice the urgent language. The situation is desperate, unprecedented action is necessary, ordinary values must be pushed aside, anyone who disagrees is dangerous and reactionary. Terror, fear, and the end of civilization.

And for that matter, who believes that the complex system of our atmosphere behaves in such a simple and predictable way that if we reduce one component, carbon dioxide, we will therefore reliably reduce temperature? CO2 is not like an accelerator on a car. It’s not linear (and by the way, neither is a car accelerator.) And furthermore, who believes that the climate can be stabilized when it has never been stable throughout the earth’s history? We can only entertain such an idea if we don’t really understand what a complex system is.

Fortunately, studies show that we can learn to manage complex systems. There are people who have investigated complex systems management, and know how to do it. But it demands humility.

Along with humility, managing complex systems also demands the ability to admit we are wrong, and to change course. If you manage a complex system you will frequently, if not always, be wrong. You have to backtrack. You have to acknowledge error. [Scott: As if Gore and the IPCC would ever do so…]

And one other thing. If we want to manage complexity, we must eliminate fear. Fear may draw a television audience. It may generate cash for an advocacy group. It may support the legal profession. But fear paralyzes us. It freezes us. And we need to be flexible in our responses, as we move into a new era of managing complexity. So we have to stop responding to fear. [Scott: No more fearmongering means no more influence, fame, support and free cash for Al Gore – ergo, no way he’s buying that!]


Is this really the end of the world? Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods?

No, we simply live on an active planet. Earthquakes are continuous, a million and a half of them every year, or three every minute. A Richter 5 quake every six hours, a major quake every 3 weeks. A quake as destructive as the one in Pakistan every 8 months. It’s nothing new, it’s right on schedule.

At any moment there are 1,500 electrical storms on the planet. A tornado touches down every six hours. We have ninety hurricanes a year, or one every four days. Again, right on schedule. Violent, disruptive, chaotic activity is a constant feature of our globe.

Is this the end of the world? No: this is the world.

6 Responses to “Michael Crichton on Ignorant Alarmism”

  1. Hun Boon Says:

    ah well, hindsight is always 20/20. But I do think that how we are currently treating the environment is undesirable.

    “Heck, his solutions ARE a catastrophe!”

    I’m curious about your assertion, would you be able to elaborate on that?

  2. Scott Thong Says:

    (Long comment follows, with lots of links which you can click if you have the interest to. Worth reading if you can devote an hour or two of your lesiure time. The points I make can stand without the support of the links. though, so you don’t have to rigth away.)

    Well, Gore is one of the strongest proponents of the Kyoto Protocol, which in my opinion is a colossal waste of resources.

    Kyoto already hurts the European economy by forcing taxes onto industry when cheap green energy is not yet available. The clean energy infrastructure is not yet mature or widespread enough to cater to the massive needs of modern life, so the prices are high. And then the carbon taxes add to the economic pain.

    And what will Kyoto accomplish? Why, it will reduce (purported) temperature rise by 0.2 degrees by the year 2100, compared to if nothing were done to reduce greenhouse gas output.
    And the predicted temperature for 2094 with no Kyoto is the same as the predicted temperature for 2100 with Kyoto… 6 years of time bought for an estimated USD 1.5 trillion in costs and expenses.

    And that is if the following hypotheses of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming are actually true in the first place:

    1) The Earth’s average temperature is rising (proven true)

    2) This temperature rise will continue unabated in an unprecedented manner ( https://scottthong.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/redvsgreen.jpg taken from my post https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/04/20/global-warming-editorial-cartoons/ )

    3) This temperature rise is primarily caused by human activities, not natural phenomena (such as output of the Sun or cosmic rays forming clouds – the IPCC refuses to even consider such factors seriously)

    3) The human activity in question is the release of greenhouse gases (rather than our building of heat-radiating cities that affect only local temperatures, https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/07/04/ground-based-temperature-recording-stations-stupid-locations-for-measuring-global-warming/ )

    4) The chief culprit among the greenhosue gases is CO2 ( https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/02/26/carbon-dioxide-and-global-warming-5-reasons-why-im-not-alarmed/ and https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/06/13/carbon-emissions-and-percentage-of-atmosphere/ )

    That is a lot of proving to be done. Yet the IPCC jumps ahead by proclaiming its pre-formed conclusions correct when they are not (pre-formed conclusions at https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/05/16/classical-values-on-the-ipcc-mandate/ , incorrect data at https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/07/04/a-skeptical-laymans-guide-to-anthropogenic-global-warming/ ).

    Rather than try to convince us of its correctness, it silences all further discussion as irresponsible ( https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/05/24/the-ipcc-does-not-want-balanced-climate-reporting/ and https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/03/23/ann-coulter-junks-al-gore-too/ ).

    Meanwhile, it forges ahead on the basis of the authority granted to it by the ‘consensus’ on global warming ( https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/03/21/why-i-feel-about-global-warming-the-same-way-i-feel-about-evolution/ ).

    Follow the above up with the even more assumption-based Gore/IPCC/Kyoto-solution’s hypotheses:

    5) Global warming will have negative consequences for the world, rather than positive

    6) We can meaningfully slow, stop or even reverse global warming

    7) The best way to do so is to reduce greenhouse gas output, especially CO2

    8 ) The costs incurred are necessary, no matter how crippling

    9) Mitigation of climate change is better than adapting to climate change, thus resources should be spent on the former rather than the latter

    10) Immediate cutting down of CO2 emissions is the best solution, rather than research and development into new technology ( http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/2007/03/mr-fusion.html ) or upgrading current infrastructure first ( https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/06/11/the-sun-the-star-green-carrot-compromise/ the principles of which Abdullah Badawi agrees to)

    So what we have here is shaky science, an even shakier plan, and lots of noise and campaigning in support of all that shakiness. I wouldn’t give a care, except that the shakers intend to get us all vibrating along.

    This leads to the most assuming, most low-probability, most highly unprovable hypothesis:

    11) Al Gore and the IPCC are honestly concerned about global warming and believe in it, have unbiased and truthful scientific data to back up their claims, are not selfishly suckering people into a scame for the sake of power and money, and really know what the heck they are doing to us and the world.

    Whether anyone knows what impact Kyoto has on anything at top of this page, https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/05/16/aliens-cause-global-warming/ for more.

    Read https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/03/23/al-gore-high-priest-of-global-warming-hypocrisy/ , https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/03/05/ann-coulter-junks-global-warming-too/ and https://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/04/02/john-travolta-on-beating-the-global-heat/ , before judging whether Al Gore and other GW champions act like they’re really concerned or are playing on our fears for their own benefit.

    And that is why I say that Al Gore’s solutions are themselves the catastrophe. Heck… AL GORE IS THE CATASTROPHE!!!!

    (I admit to heartily enjoying Gore-bashing! But that doesn’t make the criticisms about his motives, information, lifestyles and plans any less valid.)

  3. Hun Boon Says:

    Actually the objections you raised are against the Kyoto protocol, and not against Al Gore.

    (Btw, Al Gore was VP of USA when the treaty was negotiated, yet the USA has never ratified it.)

    What I’m really interested in is what specifically has Al Gore done to justify your bashing? Other than supporting the Kyoto protocol, because last I read, over 160 countries have ratified it. So you might as well bash those 160+ governments..

  4. Scott Thong Says:

    I suppose cynical skeptics like me love to target Al Gore because:

    1) He is perceived as the ‘face’ of global warming supporters, due to his highly publicized campaigning and especially his film;

    2) He was one of the strongest supporters of Kyoto, and still is;

    3) His twisting of facts and hypocritical preaching about everyone but his own carbon sinning gets on skeptics’ nerves;

    4) The global warming supporters love him, which makes the skeptics automatically loathe him;

    5) He is very easy to make fun of. Almost as easy as Dubya Bush. Not really a valid reason, but a very tempting one to satirists.

    Skeptics are of the opinion that Al Gore is, knowingly or unknowingly, perpetuating fraud by stirring up the world into a climate change panic. We reason that if he did not cheerlead the anthropogenic GW cause, it would be far less pervading a movement. he is one of the main catalysts of the fad.

    That wouldn’t in itself be a bad thing (just as huge concerts for causes are not in themselves bad things). The problem is that Gore is passing something off as the undeniable truth, which skeptics contend is unproven at best and a deliberate lie at worst. And it affects us directly through things like Kyoto and mandatory emissions reductions.

    To use a hypothetical scenario: ‘Super Rock Concert For the Worshippers Of Lex Luthor’ wouldn’t be a concern to most people, but ‘Super Rock Concert to Ratify the Imposing of Laws Making Worship of Lex Luthor Mandatory’ would really rile them up.

    Simply put: We don’t like Gore’s hypocritical energy expenditure while telling us all to cut down on emissions, his riches-buy-carbon-offsets lifestyle which we cannot afford, his haughty assumption of moral superiority over us deniers, his twisting of facts in order to support his agenda, his perceived personal ambition behind a facade of caring for the Earth, and his pivotal role in shutting down rational debate by suddenly making global warming fact by consensus.

    It may be unfair to blame Gore for all the shortcomings and offenses of the GW paranoia. We also feel the same way about the IPCC or more vocal, in-your-face supporters of anthropogenic GW theory. But Al Gore as the self-proclaimed champion of the Earth puts himself on the front lines and makes much more noise.

    Whether he likes it or not, extra-strong criticism comes with being the face of the global warming believers. And if global warming doomsday warnings turn out to be a huge fallacy in 50 years, Al Gore with automatically become the biggest scapegoat to blame the hoax on.

    I suppose Gore bashers can seem a little harsh. It would likely seem less personal if we stuck to bashing a faceless organization like the IPCC. But this is how strongly skeptics feel about the whole GW debate – the onesided media domination, the consensus swamping of the majority, the unthinking followingness of it all.

    And perhaps too, the smearing of skeptics as being selfish, evil Earth killers tends to produce a similarly vehement response.


    The US never ratified the Kyoto treaty because it was perceived as unfair to the US. Kyoto targets 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions – instead of any other date such as the year the Treaty was ratified – because European and Japanese economic growth stagnated since 1990, while the US economy grew.

    This would mean that European industry would have much less to cut down, while US industry would have to bend over backwards. So naturally the US Senate, not being suicidal, voted 95-0 in 1997 not to sign or ratify the treaty unless these flaws were fixed. It is no wonder the US refuses to sign onto Kyoto and would rather discuss new initiatives, but this Euro-advantage aspect is never discussed in the news reports.

    (From pages 64-65 of ‘A Skeptical Layman’s Guide to Anthropogenic Global Warming’, full PDF at http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2007/07/a-skeptical-lay.html )

    The governments that ratified Kyoto should be bashed for believing the IPCC reports without thoroughly checking the facts. But of course, the IPCC has done an incredible job in claiming correctness and authority while labelling those who question their science as ‘oil-sponsored’, ‘unscientific’ or ‘irresponsible’. Which government would want that kind of ostracism?

    As of now, I don’t really need to bash the European governments which adopted Kyoto. Their economies and living standards are already taking a painful bashing.

  5. David Says:


    I just finished reading this book THE SILENT ASSASSIN by Lori Andrews who people are calling the female Michael Crichton. She lives her novels through her research the same way that Crichton does and has even collaborated with him from what I understand. The plot of the book is actually based on the discovery of skulls of 6 Vietnamese soldiers that Lori really discovered while doing research for the book – I thought it would be right up your blog’s alley.  Check out her book and her website: http://www.loriandrews.com.  Thanks.


  6. Michael Chrichton Passes Away–Futuristic Theme Parks now Free to Run Amok « The Ryskind Sketchbook Says:

    […] Finally, he wrote many excellent stand alone essays that should be read, some are included in his books, some can be found on his website HERE.  And at least one is preserved in the amber of our friend Scott Thong’s website Buuuuuurrrrring Hot.com. […]

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