And the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Book Prize goes to...

OnEarth, the NRDC's magazine, has an interesting little sidebar about a book prize created by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) for "notable journalistic achievement, in any medium, which contributes to public understanding of geology, energy resources or the technology of oil and gas exploration." That's a worthy goal, no? The public doesn't know much about the subject and would certainly benefit from more knowledge. So who won the prize this year? Michael Crichton. Yes, the author of Jurassic Park. He won for his novel State of Fear, but the judges also cited the dinosaur book (for some reason).The NRDC writes (on the right):

Oddly, though, there's almost nothing in the book about any of those subjects. OK, perhaps it was Crichton's deathless prose that wooed the judges. ("'Did I hear you say you wanted a latte?' She smiled again. She crossed her legs, exposing brown knees.") Nah. So that leaves the novel's well-publicized thesis that global warming is a hoax, perpetrated by a secretive, well-funded group called the National Environmental Resource Fund (NERF).

The science fiction writer certainly is useful to the oil & gas companies and global warming denialists these days. Last September, he appeared before a Senate committee to argue his position, and last February he was invited to the white house to talk to George W. Bush about global warming.

Mr. Barnes, who describes Mr. Bush as "a dissenter on the theory of global warming," writes that the president "avidly read" the novel and met the author after Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, arranged it. He says Mr. Bush and his guest "talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement."

"The visit was not made public for fear of outraging environmentalists all the more," he adds.

And so it has, fueling a common perception among environmental groups that Mr. Crichton's dismissal of global warming, coupled with his popularity as a novelist and screenwriter, has undermined efforts to pass legislation intended to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that leading scientists say causes climate change.


Explorer, the AAPG magazine, writes without irony about Crichton's book:

The lesson for us all is that science should be left to the scientists and protected from misuse by the unscrupulous. Advocates have perverted science through ignorance or outright misrepresentations. This mistaken or maligned advocacy diverts available resources to nonexistent problems. The result, in Crichton’s words: statistical murder. [...]

The point to be taken is not whether global warming is in fact occurring, or even whether or not man’s activities are having an effect. The point is that at present we simply don’t know if the earth’s climate is changing. It is even less clear whether any action we can take, no matter how drastic, will make one whit’s worth of difference. The earth has been both much cooler and much warmer many times before in its over six billion year history. Humanity has not even been witness to the vast majority of those events.

Obviously, they are still at stage 1 of the 4 Stages of Global Warming Denial. Still a long way to go for the AAPG, but as Upton Sinclair said: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

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