Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Gene Coyle: Michael Crichton's Deep Oil Lobbying

Michael Crichton's Deep Lobbying For Oil & Coal


by Gene Coyle
December 17, 2004
From: http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/17/2004/995

Global warming isn’t happening, but evil environmentalists are making it look as if it is. That’s the story in Michael Crichton’s new thriller, State of Fear, already a huge best seller.

Reviews in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times made me think of another book, Overload, by Arthur Hailey. Author of Airport, Hotel, and many others, Hailey was extremely popular in the 1970s, and his books were made into successful films.

A rumor about Hailey’s Overload is that a draft had been written by an electric utility PR person, and turned over to Hailey. Overload is not much of a book, though whether it is below the standard of his other books I can’t say, having read none of them. I have read Overload. The main villainous character was loosely based on a non-villainous friend of mine, a gifted organizer who was fighting utility rate increases on behalf of the weakest among us. The environmental organization cast as the bad guy was the Sequoia Club. Set in San Francisco, the book came out in 1978, a time when utilities were under tremendous pressure from the public. Consumers were militantly fighting rate increases and grassroots environmentalists were battling to stop nuclear plants and growth in energy sales. Hailey probably didn’t need money desperately enough to turn out a potboiler like Overload, but, hey, if somebody handed you a draft of a book to plug into a formula … what the hell.

Whatever its provenance, Overload played a lobbying role at the time – “deep lobbying”. In Who Owns The Sun, Dan Berman calls attention to William Greider’s concept of deep lobbying. Greider, in Who Will Tell The People, describes how the big time opinion game is played out.

Now we have Crichton’s State of Fear, turning up at just the moment that COP 10 (Tenth Session of the Conference of Parties), in Buenos Aires marks the tenth anniversary of the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Crichton, who in the past imagined live fossils, says that most of the book is a product of his own imagination. Which is not to say that the impetus for the book – and research behind it – could not be from friends in the fossil fuel biz – coal and oil corporations.

I’ve neither read a Crichton book nor seen a film – Jurassic Park or any other -- based on his imagination. Well written, I suppose those books were, but reviews of the new book posted on Amazon by Crichton’s fans are only lukewarm. Marketing, nevertheless, has it selling brilliantly.

Right wing think tanks supply canned editorials which newspapers run as if written locally. Corporate supplied clips appear as news on TV. Is an army of PR people turning research and drafts over to novel marketing machines? Whatever his intention, Crichton’s book is deep lobbying for coal and oil.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Keith Rankin: Liberal Democracy In The New Neonationalist Era: The Three 'O's
The proposed ‘New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme’ (‘the scheme’) has attracted strong debate among the more left-wing and liberal groupings, within New Zealand-Aotearoa. This debate should be seen as a positive rather than negative tension because of the opportunity to consider and learn from the implications and sharpen advocacy... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Words Matter, Prime Minister
Words matter, especially when uttered by politicians. History is littered with examples of careless or injudicious words uttered by politicians coming back to haunt them, often at the most awkward of times. During the 1987 election campaign, when electoral reform was a hot issue, Prime Minister David Lange promised to have a referendum on the electoral system... More>>



Dunne Speaks: New Zealanders' Ongoing Quest For Security

In many ways, the essential story of New Zealand over the last hundred years or so has been our search for security. Whether it be security from want, or unemployment, homelessness, or cultural alienation, it has always been a constant theme which has occupied the minds of successive governments over the years... More>>



Digitl: Infrastructure Commission wants digital strategy
Earlier this month Te Waihanga, New Zealand’s infrastructure commission, tabled its first Infrastructure Strategy: Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. Te Waihanga describes its document as a road map for a thriving New Zealand... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Leaking For Roe V Wade
The US Supreme Court Chief Justice was furious. For the first time in history, the raw judicial process of one of the most powerful, and opaque arms of government, had been exposed via media – at least in preliminary form. It resembled, in no negligible way, the publication by WikiLeaks of various drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership... More>>




The Conversation: Cheaper food comes with other costs – why cutting GST isn't the answer

As New Zealand considers the removal of the goods and services tax (GST) from food to reduce costs for low income households, advocates need to consider the impact cheap food has on the environment and whether there are better options to help struggling families... More>>