Paperback Cover of "State of Fear"
In a radio speech last week, venezuelan president Hugo Chavez proclaimed that the Haiti earthquake was caused by a secret weapon developed by the US government. According to Mr. Chavez the weapon is a powerful seismic generator that can create destructive shockwaves in the form of directed temblors quake like to an specific target. He also added that such a tragedy was a plot engendered by the US to set permanent camp in the island. Without discussing the political implications or veracity of such a claim we can say that Mr. Chavez, which quite often surrounds himself in controversy, has unwillingly described a plot that has been somewhat previously explored by several Sci-Fi authors.
A noteworthy novel called “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton has its central plot in the usage of mother nature as a powerful weapon of mass destruction. In his work he explores the consequences of mankind using natural phenomena to instigate fear in the population. In the plot a group of bio terrorists wants to raise awareness to the environmental problems of our planet by creating a series of natural disasters artificially. What is most amazing by this novel is the fact that Michael Crichton also elaborates on his novel on a quite relevant topic: How much do we know about the destruction of the planet and how much several groups have an economical interest in making sure that everyone is fearing the final disaster. In a very responsible way, he tries to show us that there is a lot of myth surrounding our current problems with the environment. Crichton prompts the reader to look at the topic with a more skeptical attitude and make sure that we have all facts squared out before taking sides on the battle. For instance, what a lot of people do not know is that the “Global Warming” is an unproven theory. No scientist has been able to prove it with hard data or in a conclusive way. There are scientists, a few of them, that actually believe that the “Global Warming” is not even real or that it is part of the regular cycles of Earth’s environment. In his book, Crichton also prompts us to check the sources and reveal that behind the whistle blowers in favor of mother nature there is a multi-billion dollar business that lives off of donations (like environmental protection organizations) and scientists (That depend on picking hot and popular topics in order to have grants guaranteed). Therefore some may have an interest in making sure that things look much grimmer than they are because this means success in collecting donations for their causes. The book is a pleasure to read and a real page turner. A must read in days like ours in which a lot of things are being said about our environment and where some of it is just lip service to ensure donations from us, concerned citizens. It is a good start (or even a must read) for any one seriously concerned with the future of our planet.
A second masterpiece is brought by Arthur C. Clarke and Mike McQuay (who sadly died before seeing his work published) who wrote a novel called “Richter 10” which tells the story of Lewis Crane who is, at the age of seven, severely traumatized, crippled and orphan after an earthquake hits the region where he lives.
Lewis, like a futuristic version of Moby Dick, nurtures a hatred for earthquakes that is quite short of being maniacal obsession. Like any man on a mission, Crane will not stop until he finds a way to eliminate temblors from the face of our planet. Using a mathematical model of our planet’s geological evolution he develops a method to foretell where earthquakes will hit next. As the story moves forward the protagonist comes up with a plan to fuse the tectonic plates of the planet using nuclear devices and, therefore, stopping the mechanism that creates temblors altogether. What is most fascinating about the book is the carefully laid out plot in which different forces act in order to protect their own interests. The ability to predict earthquakes is seen by many as a powerful method of controlling and/or subduing political and economical foes. The authors are very good in describing the world of tomorrow and the picture they draw is compelling and, at the same time, scary.
In both novels, one message can be taken: Mankind’s usage of technology may have placed us on a very difficult spot. Nonetheless, the same technology is the only weapon we have to fix the problems and ensure the long term survival of our species. This is true regardless if the threat is man made or if it is nature made such as the tragic events that we have all witnessed in Haiti. Our future depends on all of us by doing our part to protect the future of our planet and, together, the future of our species.
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