Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Michael Crichton: Our Environmental Future

I wish I could post this entire speech, but I can only quote parts of it and encourage you to read it all here:

In the speech given January 25, 2005 before The Press Club, in Washington, D.C., Mr. Crichton talks about our environmental history, our perception of the present state of the climate, global warming, and the future. His insight, understanding, and interpretation are profound. It is unfortunate he is dismissed in some sectors as a "just" a fiction writer.

After his introduction, he says this about global warming:

"Okay. With this as a preparation, let’s turn to the evidence, both graphic and verbal, for global warming. As most of you have heard many times, the consensus of climate scientists believes in global warming. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had. "

"Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. "

"So we must remember the immortal words of Mark Twain, who said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

He summarizes by saying:

"The idea of spending trillions on the future is only sensible if you totally lack any historical sense, and any imagination about the future. "

"If we should not spend our money on Kyoto, what should we do instead?"


"Second, and most important—we can’t predict the future, but we can understand the present. In the time we have been talking, 2,000 people have died in the Third World. A child is orphaned by AIDS every 7 seconds. Fifty people die of waterborne disease every minute. This does not have to happen. We allow it. "

and finally,

"What is wrong with us that we ignore this human misery and focus on events a hundred years from now? What must we do to awaken our phenomenally rich, spoiled and self-centered society to the issues of the wider world? The global crisis is not 100 years from now—it is right now. We should be addressing it. But we are not. Instead, we cling to the reactionary and anti-human doctrines of outdated environmentalism and turn our backs to the cries of the dying and the starving and the diseased of our shared world."

"And if we are going to remain too self-involved to care about the third world, can we at least care about our own? We live in a country where 40% of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. Where schoolchildren pass through metal detectors on the way to class. Where one child in four says they have seen a murdered person. Where millions of our fellow citizens have no health care, no decent education, no prospects for the future. If we really have trillions of dollars to spend, let us spend it on our fellow human beings. And let us spend it now. And not on our impossible fantasies of what may happen one hundred years from now."


Anonymous said...

Lots of folks readily accept the information and advice of a former Vice President concerning Global Warming, why not a man with a PhD in medicine who has also spent a great deal of time researching climate change?

I like what Crichton says about the consensus of science because I believe it to be absolutely true. Even the IPCC doesn't dispute those claims. Yet somehow this consensus has become 'proof-positive' in the minds of so many when it reality, scientifically speaking, it proves nothing.

So much of this new climate change movement has been driven by the fear of disasters which may, theoretically, occur. There's been a lot of emotional pleas based on those predicted events, and many people advocating that it is our duty to do all we can to prevent it.

But why are all these same people silent when it comes to the very real devastation that's occurring right now around the globe. Too many people are needlessly dying everyday from preventable diseases and unhealthy living conditions. It's hypocritical to speak of a moral obligation and responsibility to one while ignoring the other.

Peter said...

You should give Sheryl Crowe a call and set her straight.....and a lot of others, like our leaders in Congress.