On the stepper 11th January 2015: Wind power romance, past warnings, science hacks, climate histories

Trying to form a new habit – typing up what I read “as I go”. And connected to that, giving an account of what I read while on the stepper for 90ish minutes a day (mostly). The habit is not “fully bedded in” as a habit yet, but I refuse to use that as an excuse to stop bedding it in…

Today (11th January):

The second half of Hendry, C. and Harborne, P. (2011) Changing the view of wind power development: More than “bricolage.” Research Policy 40, pp. 778-789.

This was mentioned in a reading group/symposium yesterday by one of my supervisors. It’s a response/elaboration to a paper by Garud and Karnoe comparing the Danish and US wind energy industries and how they came about. Hendry and Harbone heartlessly puncture the lovely romantic notions that Tinkerers Matter throughout the process (they did, but once you get to a certain point, there’s no substitute for “science” and deep pockets. Reminds me a bit of Manuel de Landa in “War in the Age of Intelligent Machines,” where he makes the point that there are tactics, but strategy will overcome them, and there is strategy, but in the end, logistics – being able to feed, clothe, arm and replace members of your army at a more efficient rate than your enemy – is what matters.

Next I read King, J. (2008) “Looking back in Anger” Sydney Morning Herald April 30th

Presumably the hook to the commissioning editor was around the “2020 Vision” conference that Rudd’s Labor government had organised.   It was a reflection by him and other folks on an October 1998 conference “The Australian Environment: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead” – organised by the Australian Conservation Foundation and with speakers including Petra Kelly, David Bellamy (obviously before he decided climate change wasn’t real) and Milo Dunphy.

Some great quotes – useful for PhD – by Robyn Williams and so on.

Short version: “We knew, we were warned, and we bollocksed it up.” I’ll get that in my PhD, even if I have to do it as an acrostic in the conclusion!

Then Metcalfe, J. and Gascoigne, T. (1995) Science journalism in Australia. Public Understanding of Science 4, pp. 411-28.

Surveys show that media attention to science and technology has increased considerably over the past decade. Yet coverage seems shallow and technology-based, and does not appear to have succeed in making a real impact on people or in changing the ways they think about science and technology and its impact on their lives. The challenges currently facing science journalism in Australia include: the need for more in-depth and critical analysis of science and technology; overcoming the negative or trivial perceptions of editors, chiefs of staff, news directors and other gatekeepers about the importance of science and technology stories; and integrating science and technology with social, economic and political issues.

Useful for PhD in that there was no “Walter Sullivan” (legendary science journo at New York Times who knew EVERYONE) figure to serve as an agenda setter/issue entrepreneur in the 80s.

Finally Clark, W. Jager, J. Cavender-Bares, J. and Dickson, N (2001) Acid Rain, Ozone Depletion, and Climate Change: An Historical Overview, in Social Learning Group (2001) Learning to Manage Global Environmental Risks Vol 1 A Comparative History of Social Responses to Climate Change, Ozone Depletion, and Acid Rain

Incredibly useful (content and reference list), and written by people Who Were There.

This from page 29 leapt out but did not surprise me:

“Research on acid rain dates back at least to the middle of the nineteenth century. Robert Smith’s 1872 treatise Air and Rain: The Beginnings of a Chemical Climatology laid out many of the essential elements of the acid rain problem as they are known today. These included, but were not restricted to, sources in coal combustion, atmospheric transformation and transport, and impacts on plants and materials. Unfortunately, Smith’s integrated approach did not resonate with the science or policy concerns of the day and was ignored.”

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