Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Hollywood frozen by ‘State of Fear’

Amy Ridenour Knight Ridder

WASHINGTON – If you count the two “sequels” spawned by the original “Jurassic Park,” no less than 13 of Michael Crichton’s page-turning thrillers have delighted movie-goers around the globe.

From “The Andromeda Strain” in 1971 through 2003’s “Timeline,” films based on Crichton novels have grossed more than $3 billion while DVD sales continue to fill the industry’s coffers.

Which brings us to today’s burning question: Will Hollywood put profit ahead of ideology and turn Crichton’s current “State of Fear” into what could be a blockbuster?

An interesting question because “State of Fear” targets four of Tinseltown’s most repeated environmental shibboleths:

One, that Mother Earth is on the verge of entering a period of rampant global warming with rising temperatures of 8 to 10 degrees triggering a series of catastrophic storms, droughts, quakes and floods.

Two, the warming is caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses.

Three, that any group with words “green” or “environmental” in its title is inherently good and worthy of the artistic community’s philosophical and financial support – no matter how deleterious their policies may be.

And four, that the capitalistic system that allows Hollywood’s biggest players to earn millions of dollars annually is somehow evil, corrupt and responsible for every bit of ecological degradation that occurs on this planet.

The environmental community and their Hollywood allies are having a difficult time responding to Crichton’s challenges to their beliefs.

The chief reason is that he and his publisher, Harper Collins, had the foresight to include pages of footnotes, charts and two lengthy appendixes that back up his assertions with scientific documentation contained in new studies by researchers at prestigious institutions.

Because of that, global warming alarmists have been relying on attacks suggesting, for example, that Crichton is himself “a capitalist stooge.” So far, such assaults have only increased sales for “State of Fear,” which, as it turns out, is a good thing for the overall advancement of knowledge.

Crichton presents abundant scientific evidence that neither Earth’s temperatures nor sea levels are rising.

Many of his opponents, meanwhile, are citing computer models that project cataclysmic disaster by the end of the century. Global warming alarmists have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade reinforcing those projections with what chiefly amount to press releases filled with dire warnings.

Hollywood could enhance its long-tarnished reputation with American movie buffs and encourage an open debate on global warming by honestly presenting “State of Fear” and its ideas in thousands of theaters around the country.

Crichton’s novel is, after all, chock full of all the elements that Hollywood moguls usually crave: Ruthless power grabs by nefarious villains, lethal new hazards at every turn, mayhem and gore galore, handsome young men and gorgeous young women devoted to both the American way and unbridled hedonism.

But don’t expect the Sierra Club or the World Wildlife Fund to bankroll this potential money-maker. It will be interesting, indeed, to see if greediness actually trumps greenness in this case.

Surely, you say, some brave iconoclast will break ranks with Hollywood’s legions of intellectual goose-steppers and step forward to make this entertaining – and thought-provoking – film.

Don’t hold your breath!