I have not read Michael Crichton's new book, but I've looked into the debate a bit over global warming. On the one side we have Al Gore and his IPCC scientists taking the view that there is irrefutable evidence of global warming, and that human activity is causing it, necessitating possibly draconian measures to scale back some of that human activity. A reputable advocate for this position is David Sandalow of the Brookings Institute, whose opinion may be found here. On the other side is the view of Mr. Crichton and others who say either that there is global warming all right, but that it is dubious at best to say that human activity is causing it, or that there is really not significant global warming going on at all. A reasonable endorsement of Mr. Crichton's point of view has been provided by Joseph L. Bast of the Heartland Institute (read it here). The Heartland Institute also has a little video rebuttal of Al Gore himself (watch it here).
I tend to side with Mr. Crichton, but I think it's more because of my skepticism of humanity than because of anyone's science. Ironically, the global-warming-ists would have us believe that it's their skepticism of humanity that takes them to their position: we must initiate protocols to shackle the excessive industrializaton of our world, etc.
But should we not be skeptical of them too? Certainly if we entertain skepticism of mankind, it ought to include them. Mr. Sandalow's own observation on this score is most worthy of note: "There are indeed fewer people who have sorted through the minutiae of climate change science than have opinions on the topic. In this regard, global warming is like Social Security reform, health care finance, the military budget and many other complex public policy issues. As Nelson Polsby and Aaron Wildavsky once wrote, 'Most people don’t think about most issues most of the time.' When forming opinions on such matters, we all apply certain predispositions or instincts and rely on others whose judgment or expertise we trust."
Precisely. We all do this. Even panelists at the IPCC.
Together, however, with my skepticism of humanity comes a dose of faith. Not faith in anyone's duelling analyses or graphs, but faith in the Providence of God.
And speaking of God, this may come as a surprise to some, but there was never a divine commandment forbidding the overuse of fossil fuels. The divine commandments are actually harder to follow than that: "Love thy neighbor as thyself" prescribes no protocols or UN resolutions.
Some would argue that "love thy neighbor" requires good stewardship of the planet. I remain for the most part unconvinced of that logic; and I think a far more regrettable inference is drawn when people who think they are being "green" have done their part. Hardly. The law of God says, If thy neighbor is hungry, feed him. And that just may require the burning of some fossil fuels.