Michael Crichton on Environmentalism

Here is the transcript of a speech Michael Crichton gave on the environmental movement.
This is a weirder piece of fiction than any of his dreadful cookie-cutter potboilers of the last 25 years. As best I can distill it, his point is “we don’t need to preserve nature because it has bugs and dangerous animals. Also, wiping out the Indians wasn’t so bad, because they fought wars amongst themselves.” Really, it makes both these points. Read it for yourself.

Found via Steve Jackson Games Daily Illuminator.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.

2 thoughts on “Michael Crichton on Environmentalism”

  1. I think Crichton’s point is a little deeper than you give him credit for. I interpreted it as more of a “you say you want thus and such, but you couldn’t handle it if you had it”. He also made a point that I think you yourself made years back, we humans can’t destroy the environment, we can only make it uninhabitable for ourselves. As powerful as we consider ourselves, we couldn’t wipe out all life on earth. We could wipe out all humans and a fair number of species of plant and animal, but something would survive and evolution would begin again.

    Now his points about DDT and second hand smoke not being dangerous? Nutty. He must be a big smoker. And his resenting having to have always flown in first class is laughable.

  2. It’s my brother!

    Sure, I tried to emphasize the absurbidity but really, I didn’t really reframe what he said. His argument like many is really not with modern day environmentalism but with the right wing radio strawman of “hippy wacko bleeding-heart granola tree-hugging green-peacing pinko nature boy.” I consider myself an environmentalist and I’m not saying that I should be living under the stars like a caveman. There’s a whole world between what I want and what he imputes as the goals of environmentalism. I don’t want standards of living to back down, but I want to achieve mine with less of a footprint so more of the world can join me in it. I don’t want to see man hunting species to extinction or driving species to extinction via habitat destruction. The counterargument is that “species die off all through history, why do you care?” I don’t want the last 200 years to be the equivalent of a KT event. Much of this is avoidable.

    I like the way Costa Rica is doing it. Much destruction is done in the name of money – by burning this jungle or clearing this land we can develop it an make cash or cultivate the land or something. By promoting eco-tourism, Costa Rica is able to monetize their nature without destroying it. As other countries do, the value of their relatively pristine rain forest goes up. They also have the deals with drug countries that allow for them to look for biological chemicals that might be useful in pharmaceuticals.

    My point is that there are many ways to do this. Most business operate under industrial revolution flat-earth thinking. Resources are there to exploit, use up, and then move on. Clear the land, foul the stream, fill the air, and then scream that you can’t afford not to pollute. We’re hitting the limits of that. There aren’t places left to go after we use up what we’ve got, so it’s time to come up with new models. Rather than a disposable consumer culture, maybe we can create a durable culture. Things like the thermal depolymerization could conceivably turn our trash into oil, helping two problems at once. There are awesome things that can be done, but they will never happen when it is cheaper to duck environmental stewardship. It always pays the stockholders better in the next quarter to take the easy, short term path. That’s not leadership, a monkey could do that. What is leadership is to decide that as a company, your vision and values and morality are inconsistent with leaving a fucked up world for future generations.

    That’s all I’m saying, and Crichton seems to be saying the opposite.

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