It seemed rather apt that I was reading Michael Crichton’s State of Fear when Climategate 3.0 broke yesterday. The book is, after all, the work of an author who was deeply sceptical about global warming.
I’ve nearly reached the end of it now. It’s a pretty long book, and packs in several high drama adventures. But my attention span has been low over the past few days, and so I’ve been reading it spasmodically.
In retrospect, it seems a deeply prophetic book. It was written in 2004, before I’d really taken any real notice of global warming, and long before I’d become thoroughly sceptical about it. It’s a book that lays out almost all the arguments against it that have become the common currency of scepticism: the poverty of the the instrumental record of warming, the inadequacy of climate simulation models, the cooling of Antarctica, the absence of sea level rise, and so on. They’re all there. Except they were all set out by Crichton 10 years or so ago, long before I’d heard of any of them. In that respect, the book hasn’t dated at all.
Crichton even foresaw the shift from Global Warming to Climate Change, something that I only remember happening in 2008/9.
“So what you need,” Henley said, “is to structure the information so that whatever kind of weather occurs, it always confirms your message. That’s the virtue of shifting the focus to abrupt climate change. It enables you to use everything that happens. There will always be floods, and freezing storms, and cyclones, and hurricanes. These events will always get headlines and airtime. And in every instance, you can claim it is an example of abrupt climate change caused by global warming…” (p372)
And precisely this is what is happening right now, over and over again, as if the alarmists had also read State of Fear.
I was beginning to think that the book consisted in high adventure interspersed with graphs and references when I came to what seemed to be the core chapter of the book, in which a Professor Hoffman makes his first (and most likely, last) appearance, to set out the wider vision of the book, which extends beyond global warming/climate change.
“I am leading to the notion of social control, Peter. To the requirement of every sovereign state to exert control over the behavior of its citizens, to keep them orderly and reasonably docile. To keep them driving on the right side of the road, – or on the left, as the case may be. To keep them paying taxes. And of course we know that social control is best managed through fear.” (p 541)
Hoffman (who is probably Crichton himself) is goes on:
“Has it ever occurred to you how astonishing the culture of Western society really is? Industrialized nations provide their citizens with unprecedented safety, health, and comfort. Average life spans increased fifty percent in the last century. Yet modern people live in abject fear. They are afraid of strangers, of disease, of crime, of the environment. They are afraid of the homes they live in, the food they eat, the technology that surrounds them. They are in a particular panic over things they can’t even see – germs, chemicals, additives, pollution. They are timid, nervous, fretful, and depressed And even more amazingly they are convinced that the environment of the entire planet is being destroyed around them. Remarkable! Like the belief in witchcraft, it’s an extraordinary delusion – a global fantasy worthy of the Middle Ages. Everything is going to hell, and we must all live in fear. Amazing.”
Hoffman explains how this has been achieved.
“For the past fifteen years we have been under the control of an entirely new complex, far more powerful and far more pervasive [than the old military-industrial complex foreseen by Eisenhower]. I call it the political-legal-media complex. The P.L.M. And it is dedicated to promoting fear in the population – under the guise of promoting safety.”
He explains how universities changed.
“What happened,” he continued, “is that the universities transformed themselves in the 1980s. Formerly bastions of intellectual freedom in a world of Babbitry, formerly the locus of sexual freedom and experimentation, they now became the most restrictive environments in modern society. Because they had a new role to play. They became the creators of new fears for the PLM. Universities today are factories of fear. They invent all the new terrors and all the new social anxieties. All the new restrictive codes. Words you can’t say. Thoughts you can’t think. They produce a steady stream of new anxieties, dangers, and social terrors to be used by politicians, lawyers, and reporters. Foods that are bad for you. Behaviors that are unacceptable. Can’t smoke, can’t swear, can’t screw, can’t think. These organisations have been stood on their heads in a generation. It is really quite extraordinary.
“The modern State of Fear could never exist without the universities feeding it. There is a peculiar neo-Stalinist mode of thought that is required to support all this, and it can thrive only in a restrictive setting, behind closed doors, without due process. In our society, only universities have created that – so far. The notion that these institutions are liberal is a cruel joke. They are fascist to the core, I’m telling you.’
And he condemns it.
“We are talking about a situation that is profoundly immoral. It is disgusting, if truth be told.”
I suppose that I found this chapter arresting because it mirrored much of what I’ve gradually come to think in recent years.
What this prophetic book doesn’t address, is what can be done about the situation. Michael Crichton didn’t live to see Climategate, because he died of throat cancer in 2008 (as I read the book I wondered if he might have been murdered).
And I think that what happens is a withdrawal of belief, of trust, of faith. People start out believing in scientists and doctors and ‘experts’ and ‘authorities’ for the simple reason that these people used to be honest and trustworthy in the past. It takes time to realise that the institutions of science and medicine have become utterly corrupted and perverted, and they are now simply using their former high status and prestige to dupe people, manipulate people, and ultimately rob people. And that prestige and respect is now trickling away. In fact, it’s flooding away. There’s a deepening loss of faith in all politicians, in all experts, in all mainstream media. And when this trust has completely gone, the media can no longer get their university-fear-mongered stories heard, and the politicians must lose credibility and relevance – and votes -, and the whole attempt to exert social control must fail.
It’s happening right now with the crackpot alcohol minimum pricing scheme, which is strongly rumoured to be about to be ditched – because of increasing political nervousness among unpopular mainstream politicians – and has resulted in doctors resorting to outrageous lies in their desperate attempts to push forward the policy, and the social engineering agenda underlying it.
And it’s also happening because people like FOIA – the anonymous Climategate leaker/hacker (and who might well have been a fictional character in one of Crichton’s books) – felt morally obliged to act. As he wrote yesterday:
If I had a chance to accomplish even a fraction of that, I’d have to try. I couldn’t morally afford inaction. Even if I risked everything, would never get personal compensation, and could probably never talk about it with anyone.
So, yes, we are living in precisely the State of Fear that Crichton foresaw. But we are also beginning to witness its disintegration. For disintegrate it must, once trust and faith in authorities and experts and pundits has gone.