Agreeing With Michael Crichton On Moving Away From Fossil Fuel

Repost, first posted on July 19, 2012.  I am reposting a couple of things I have written about Crichton and his “State of Fear” novel, which is the most harmful book in history, since I am just publishing my second global change science fiction novel “Tasneem”, and that novel is in part an answer to Crichton.

Obviously I don’t agree with Michael Crichton’s views in his science fiction novel “State of Fear” on the reality of global warming.

But there are lots of things he says in his “Author’s Message” that make perfect sense to me.

One of them: Crichton thinks that there are lots of reasons to move away from fossil fuels. He also says that will happen in this century.

I agree with that. You don’t need to understand the scientific facts on global warming to move away from fossil fuel. Other good reasons are: The last couple of generations have taken a rather big share of the treasure already, and we should leave more of the stuff for future generations. More and more renewable energy is just cheaper than burning oil, or even than burning coal.

However, in Crichton’s view, there is no need for any legislation or financial incentives.

That may be already true now, but it was not yet true in 2004 (the date “State of Fear” was published), when solar was still much more expensive. The German feed-in tariff was extremely successful in creating the world mass market and bringing prices down massively.

While that might have happened eventually anyway, for someone who understands the science on global warming time is of essence. It is a very big deal that solar will beat coal in China in less than a decade, which will lead to massive displacing of coal, just as is happening with shale gas displacing coal in the United States right now.

So while I agree with Crichton that fossil fuel use will be phased out anyway in the long run, I disagree that there is no need to speed that process up with effective legislation. The important question is not if fossil fuel use will be phased out. The important question is if that happens fast enough.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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