Please summarize State of Fear by Michael Crichton.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While his book State of Fear is a work of fiction, Michael Crichton based this novel on the science and practice of real-life global warming; any footnotes contained in the text are real, as is the data they substantiate. Fear of science being used as a political tool is one of the author's major themes in the techno-thriller published in 2004.

An eco-terrorist group called the Environmental Liberation Front (ELF) wants to draw attention to its cause (global warming) by creating chaos, in the form of "natural" disasters throughout the world. An environmental lawyer, Peter Evans, has one particular client (millionaire George Morton) who contributes heavily to the National Environmental Resource Fund (NERF). Morton suspects his donations are being mis-spent, and they are. 

The eco-terrorists are routinely (and in bizarre, unsuspicious ways) murdering anyone who interferes with their agenda. Morton publicly withdraws his money from NERF, an action which gets him killed in a car accident. Morton's will directs Evans to search for the truth about the environmental terrorists, which Evans and several others do.

The investigative group discovers that the so-called natural disasters are man-made acts of terrorism orchestrated by Nicholas Drake, the head of NERF. Evans and the others are nearly killed many times. In what turns out to be its final act of eco-terrorism, ELF creates a tsunami. Morton, who faked his death in order to investigate ELF, appears in time to save Evans and the others.

Evans and his team sabotaged the tsunami so it does not kill anyone but the ELF terrorists. Morton creates a new organization to promote environmental activism without any political agenda. Evans quits his job as a lawyer to work with Morton full time.

Of course, because it is a Michael Crichton novel, there are lots of action scenes, a few love interests, and plenty of oddities in nature (such as someone being killed by a blue-ringed octopus). This novel is a criticism of politicizing science, which Crichton believes is a dangerous thing.

“Nobody dares to solve the problems--because the solution might contradict your philosophy, and for most people clinging to beliefs is more important than succeeding in the world.” 

Crichton even includes an appendix entitled "Why Politicized Science is Dangerous."