I have not read Michael Crichton’s latest novel, State of Fear, but I have just read this review of it, which I found via Arts & Letters Daily. It is a story with heroes and with villains, but here is the twist:
We soon learn that such skulduggery is being coordinated, or so it seems, by Nick Drake, a Ralph Nader clone – intense, single-minded and (apologies to Mr. Nader’s many fans) unhinged. He is president of the National Environmental Resource Fund (NERF), an organization founded by lawyers, not scientists, and devoted to pushing a radical environmental agenda. The fund is clearly modeled on the real-life Natural Resources Defense Council, whose annual budget is about the same: $44 million.
To keep the donations rolling in, Drake is trying to induce a perpetual state of fear in the public by marketing the hell out of predictions of catastrophic global warming. Global warming – as we are all too well aware these days – results from burning fossil fuels that load the atmosphere with heat-trapping carbon dioxide. Drake’s problem is that people just aren’t alarmed enough to send in those vital checks. But Drake has a plan; he’ll force nature to cooperate with him.
To get his plan rolling, Drake needs seed money, so he wheedles millionaire playboy George Morton, heir to a forklift fortune, into donating $10 million to NERF. But Morton has the audacity to withdraw his gift when a scientist at MIT apparently sets him straight about the science behind Drake’s claims. Drake is livid. Shortly after Morton takes his money back, he crashes his Ferrari through an oceanside guard rail and plunges down a cliff to his presumed death. No body is found. Is this an accident or yet another murder?
It will be extremely interesting to watch what happens to this book. Will it be picked up and run with by anti-environmentalist types like me? Well, here I am doing my bit for that process. Will this book perhaps be made into a movie? More generally, will the idea which it embodies, that greenery can be combined with villainy, be echoed in other stories, including the stories that emerge from Hollywood?
Hollywood has to have villains, and I have been willing to accept that the profusion of environment-destroying capitalist in the movies in recent years is caused at least partly by the fact that to get drama you need bad guys, and, well, environment good, people harming it bad, right?
And if you do not have a human villain, then you must have an inhuman force for the heroes to battle against, such as: environmental disaster.
But now that Crichton has explained – and in a best seller type book that will be sold in airports, that there can also be enviro-villains, and that environmental disasters might be lies told by enviro-villains, then we ought in due course to be seeing at least some Hollywood heavies who are decked out in green plumage. And it might well happen. All I am saying is: let us keep our eyes and ears open, and track this story as it unfolds.