Another Look at Michael Crichton’s ‘State of Fear’ – Part 1

SUBTITLE: Nobody Knows How Much of the Global Surface Warming from 1861 to 2005 Is Human-induced or Naturally Occurring. Climate Scientists Are Only Guessing. And Their Guesses Are Based on How They Program Their Computer Models to Meet the Expectations and Political Agendas of the Politicians Providing the Funding for the Computer-Modeling Efforts


It had been more than a decade since I first read Michael Crichton’s 2004 novel State of Fear.  I purchased an e-book edition recently, and I’ve just finished reading it.  I enjoyed State of Fear thoroughly the second time around.  Now, though, with my much more-detailed understanding of the subject and the global politics behind it, it was interesting to see Michael Crichton arguing points in 2004 that heretics of the religion of human-induced global warming/climate change are still arguing today, 14 years later. I took a few notes, too, this time, when I found something interesting.

State of Fear is described at the HarperCollins Publisher webpage as (my boldface):

New York Times bestselling author Michael Crichton delivers another action-packed techo-thriller in State of Fear.

When a group of eco-terrorists engage in a global conspiracy to generate weather-related natural disasters, its up to environmental lawyer Peter Evans and his team to uncover the subterfuge.

From Tokyo to Los Angeles, from Antarctica to the Solomon Islands, Michael Crichton mixes cutting edge science and action-packed adventure, leading readers on an edge-of-your-seat ride while offering up a thought-provoking commentary on the issue of global warming. A deftly-crafted novel, in true Crichton style, State of Fear is an exciting, stunning tale that not only entertains and educates, but will make you think.

Apparently eco-fearmongers didn’t want to be entertained, or educated, or made to think…or want anyone else to be entertained, or educated, or made to think. Examples:

  • Union of Concerned Scientists here
  • Weather Underground here
  • The New York Times here
  • The Guardian here
  • RealClimate here (Yes, Gavin Schmidt added his 2 cents. Oy vey. Didn’t you have something better to do with your time, Gav?)

Now for the meat of this post:


Near the end of State of Fear (p. 569-570), under the heading of AUTHOR’S NOTES, Michael Crichton’s 4th, 5th and 6th bullet-pointed conclusions read:

  • Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be a natural phenomenon.
  • Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be man-made.
  • Nobody knows how much warming will occur in the next century. The computer models vary by 400 percent, de facto proof that nobody knows…

(Thank you HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition. It’s so easy now to copy and paste.)

The first two of the quoted bullet points reminded me of a graph I included as Figure 2.11-7 in my free ebook On Global Warming and the Illusion of Control – Part 1 (700+ page, 25MB .pdf), and later presented in my blog post The Illusions Provided by Time-Series Graphs of Climate Model Ensembles and Model Spreads. (WattsUpWithThat cross post is here.)

The graph being discussed, Figure 2.11-7 below, illustrates the highest and lowest warming rates of the simulations of global surface temperature anomalies from 1861 to 2005 along with the model spread. The model spread is how climate scientists (better said, computer programmers) prefer to present their models. On the other hand, the ensemble members with the highest and lowest trends shown in Figure 2.11-7 bring to light what the climate scientists are hiding when they present the model spread.

The graph is based on the 81 ensemble members of climate models stored in the CMIP5 archive, using historic forcings to drive the number crunching in the computer simulations of climate on virtual planets. And it must always be kept in mind that the computer-generated climates in those virtual planets are no more real than computer generated imagery (CGI) of dinosaurs in the science fiction movies based in Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel Jurassic Park.

Note: As you’ll recall, the models in the CMIP5 archive were used by the United Nation’s supposedly scientific entity called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for their 5th Assessment Report published in 2014.  And as you’ll further recall, the IPCC was founded to supply “scientific” support for the political agendas of the unelected politicians who make up the UN. [End note.]

The dataset referenced in the following text is the global land+ocean surface temperature data from Berkeley Earth.

As described in the ebook and blog post:


Figure 2.11-7 presents the ensemble members with the highest and lowest long-term (1861-2005) warming rates.  I’ve also furnished the annual high and low values of the ensemble as a reference.

The ensemble member with the lowest warming rate from 1861 to 2005 has a very low linear trend of about 0.01 deg C/decade, while the ensemble member with the highest trend shows global surface temperatures warming at a very fast rate of 0.082 deg C/decade, noticeably higher than the observed warming rate of 0.055 deg C/decade.

[End Reprint.]

In other words, based on the climate modelers’ hindcast simulations of global warming, the human-induced portion of global warming from 1861 to 2005 might be as low as 0.01 deg C/decade or as high as 0.82 0.082 deg C/decade. And that leaves a wide range of natural variability to explain the differences in the warming rates between the models and observations-based data.

So let me merge and rewrite the 4th and 5th of Michael Crichton’s concluding bullet points and add a paraphrasing of the second sentence of the 6th bullet point.

Nobody knows how much of the global surface warming from 1861 to 2005 might be human-induced or naturally occurring. The global surface warming rates of the CMIP5 climate model hindcasts are such that the warming rate of the ensemble member with the highest rate is more than 8 times higher than the warming rate of the ensemble member with the lowest one, de facto proof that nobody knows. Climate scientists are only guessing. Their guesses are based on how they program the computer models to meet the expectations and agendas of the politicians providing the funding for the computer-modeling efforts. A computer-aided guess is still only a guess.

Michael Crichton’s 6th bullet point reads in full:

  • Nobody knows how much warming will occur in the next century. The computer models vary by 400 percent, de facto proof that nobody knows. But if I had to guess—the only thing anyone is doing, really—I would guess the increase will be 0.812436 degrees C. There is no evidence that my guess about the state of the world one hundred years from now is any better or worse than anyone else’s. (We can’t “assess” the future, nor can we “predict” it. These are euphemisms. We can only guess. An informed guess is just a guess.)

That’s it for this post. I have a few more notes from my recent reading of State of Fear, and I’ll publish posts about them over the next few weeks.


Please purchase my recently published ebooks. As many of you know, this year I published 2 ebooks that are available through Amazon in Kindle format:

To those of you who have purchased them, thank you. To those of you who will purchase them, thank you, too.



UPDATE:  Corrected typo.

About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
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5 Responses to Another Look at Michael Crichton’s ‘State of Fear’ – Part 1

  1. wernerkohl says:

    Yes, great, Bob!
    When I read Crichton’s novel first ~12 years ago it started my big interest in climate research. When I read it again last year I was surprised again how much Crichton already knew in 2004. A great novel!

    And yes, I buy all books from you. You gave me so much information and insight in those complicated things like ENSO, temperature time series and climate model results.
    Yes, it’s great that you are back again! We missed you.
    Thank you for all!

  2. Wim R says:

    Bob I think a typo: as high as 0.82 deg C/decade. Should be 0.082 deg C/decade.

  3. chaamjamal says:

    “Knows How Much of the Global Surface Warming from 1861 to 2005 Is Human-induced or Naturally Occurring”

    Also no role for geological sources of heat and carbon as in the PETM.

  4. P. Puk says:

    The present warming trend is man-made. I know for sure. There’s something called “climate-control” in my car.

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