Monday, February 20, 2006

Local Oaf Takes Advice From Well Meaning Krank; or: Is the Globe Warming, Or Is It Just Me?

George Washington was an honored veteran of two wars. Jefferson spoke three languages and wrote fluently in all of them.* Grant, it was said, could write in Greek with one hand while simultaneously writing in Latin with the other. President Bush, well, he gets his science from a science fiction author, and not even a good one:

In his new book about Mr. Bush, "Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush," Fred Barnes recalls a visit to the White House last year by Michael Crichton, whose 2004 best-selling novel, "State of Fear," suggests that global warming is an unproven theory and an overstated threat.

Mr. Barnes, who describes Mr. Bush as "a dissenter on the theory of global warming," writes that the president "avidly read" the novel and met the author after Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, arranged it. He says Mr. Bush and his guest "talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement."

"The visit was not made public for fear of outraging environmentalists all the more," he adds.

And so it has, fueling a common perception among environmental groups that Mr. Crichton's dismissal of global warming, coupled with his popularity as a novelist and screenwriter, has undermined efforts to pass legislation intended to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that leading scientists say causes climate change.

Mr. Crichton, whose views in "State of Fear" helped him win the American Association of Petroleum Geologists' annual journalism award this month, has been a leading doubter of global warming and last September appeared before a Senate committee to argue that the supporting science was mixed, at best.

"This shows the president is more interested in science fiction than science," Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, said after learning of the White House meeting. Mr. O'Donnell's group monitors environmental policy.

"This administration has put no limit on global warming pollution and has consistently rebuffed any suggestion to do so," he said.

I saw Barnes on the Daily show and on Bill Mahr, Friday. His book is pure hagiography and Barnes couldn’t defend it even a little without stumbling into lugubrious platitudes. I don’t know what Crichton’s problem is. He used to be smart and sort of cutting edge in the science department. Now he’s just a cranky shill for pseudoscience. I guess that’s what happens when real science passes your fiction by at light speed: what sounded far out and whizbang a decade ago now sounds haplessly naive and about as forward thinking as a coal burning car.

"But it burns coal! It can shuttle a man at twice the spead of a horse and gets fifty gallops to the hogshead!"

Oooh! Tell us more, Dr. Crichton.

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