State of Fear Study Guide

State of Fear

State of Fear by Michael Crichton

Peter Evans is lawyer for a millionaire philanthropist, George Morton. Evans' main duties are managing the legal affairs surrounding Morton's contributions to an environmentalist organization, the National Environmental Resource Fund (NERF) (modeled after the Natural Resources Defense Council [NRDC]).

Morton becomes suspicious of NERF's director, Nicholas Drake, after he discovers that Drake has misused some of the funds Morton had donated to the group. Soon after, Morton is visited by two men, John Kenner and Sanjong Thapa, who appear on the surface to be researchers at MIT, but, in fact, are international law enforcement agents on the trail of an eco-terrorist group, the Environmental Liberation Front (ELF) (modeled on the Earth Liberation Front). The ELF is attempting to create "natural" disasters to convince the public of the dangers of global warming. All these events are timed to happen during a NERF-sponsored climate conference that will highlight the "catastrophe" of global warming. The eco-terrorists have no qualms about how many people are killed in their manufactured "natural" disasters and ruthlessly assassinate anyone who gets in their way (their preferred methods being ones few would recognize as murder; the venom of a rare Australian blue-ringed octopus which causes paralysis, and "lightning attractors" which cause their victims to get electrocuted in electrical storms). Kenner and Thapa suspect Drake of involvement with the ELF to further his own ends (garnering more donations to NERF from the environmentally-minded public).

Evans joins Kenner, Thapa, and Morton's assistant, Sarah Jones on a globe-spanning series of adventures to thwart various ELF-manufactured disasters before these disasters kill thousands of people. Kenner's niece, Jennifer Haynes, joins the group for the final leg as they travel to a remote island in the Solomons to stop the ELF's "piece de resistance", a tsunami that will inundate the coastline of California just as Drake is winding up the international conference on the "catastrophe" of global warming. Along the way they battle man-eating crocodiles and cannibalistic tribesmen (who feast on Ted Bradley, an environmentalist TV actor whom Drake had sent to spy on Kenner and his team). The rest of the group are rescued in the nick of time by Morton who had previously faked his own death to throw Drake off the trail so that he could keep watch on the ELF's activities on the island while he waited for Kenner and his team to arrive. The group has a final confrontation with the elite ELF team on the island during which Haynes is almost killed and Evans kills one of the terrorists who had previously tried to kill both him and Jones in Antarctica. The rest of the ELF team is killed by the backwash from their own tsunami, which Kenner and his team have sabotaged just enough to prevent it from becoming a full-size tsunami and reaching California. Morton, Evans and Jones return to Los Angeles. Evans quits the firm to work for Morton's new (unnamed) organization, which will practice environmental activism as a business, free from potential conflicts of interest. He hopes Evans and Jones will take his place in the new organization after his death.

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