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Last Updated: Friday, 17 December, 2004, 16:29 GMT
Crichton's climate fear contention
Michael Crichton (AP)
Crichton challenges the scientific consensus
The best-selling author Michael Crichton has explained to the BBC why he has argued global warming is a nonsense in his new book, State Of Fear.

The novel - a thriller - is controversial because it challenges scientific consensus that rapid climate change is being driven by a build-up of human-produced carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Crichton, most famous as the author of The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park and creator of TV series ER, told the BBC World Service that he began to look into the subject after reading an article and feeling it "didn't make very much sense".

"I finally concluded that the difficulty that was occurring on this page was that the author wanted to say something he wasn't allowed to say - and what he wanted to say was that global warming wasn't real," the author recalls on The Ticket programme.

"I thought, 'that's absurd, isn't it'?"

Disappointing answer

And Crichton said that he had looked at evidence from temperature records and considered that, "It wasn't anywhere near as impressive as I thought it would be".

He said that from what he could see, the data appeared to show that global temperatures had risen three tenths of a degree in the last 30 years; but that for the 30 previous years, temperatures had declined - while the amount of carbon dioxide being released was increasing.

People to say to me, 'now you're agreeing with President Bush' - I do so, but only by accident
Michael Crichton
"I thought, why does the 30 years of decline not count, but the 30 years of increasing temperatures do count as demonstrating this influence of carbon dioxide?" he argued.

This, he explained, had then caused him to wonder why people were so concerned about the last 30 years.

"I was extremely disappointed in the answer," he said. "They do computer simulations and conclude that this is of human origin. The difficulty that I have with that is that I simply don't believe computer simulations."

Crichton's books have often examined scientific issues through a fictional thriller framework, using science to add substance to his ideas.

Jurassic Park, for example, examined cloning through dinosaurs being brought to life in the 20th Century, while The Terminal Man looked at the ever-increasing integration of man and computers.

Data driven

State Of Fear, he contended, was again a work of fiction using fact. He said that the simplest version of his argument is that a lawsuit filed now on global warming could not be won - that there would not be enough evidence to take it to court.

The idea that carbon dioxide emissions are a significant factor in global warming is the basis for the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to come into force in February.

The US has not ratified the treaty, with many on the political right in the country describing global warming as "alarmist."

Crichton said that his own agenda came from what he believed to be fact, that "almost every aspect of environmental thought has attached to it a political tag... I think that's madness.

"I think there's only one position, and that is the position that the data leads you to," he added.

"People say to me, 'now you're agreeing with President Bush'. I do so, but only by accident.

"I'm not interested in what he thinks; I'm interested in what the data says."

State Of Fear is published by HarperCollins. It describes how the head of an environmental group initiates terrorist acts to focus attention on global warming.

The public is so alarmed at what they see that they are driven to donate funds to the organisation.

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