Stepper reading: Delayism from IPA, Mann’s “Serengeti Strategy” and “policy dictators”…

So, started with “The Greenhouse Panic” by Dr Brian Tucker, who was a leading player in the CSIRO’s climate efforts, and wrote a 1981 book on the “C02 connection”.

From his obituary I knew that he’d gone to work for the (libertarian) Institute of Public Affairs. This article,written in mid-1995, (IPA Review, Vol. 48/1) is interesting and depressing.

There’s stuff that wouldn’t get published by the IPA these days (they’ve well and truly been drinking from the well of looniness of late) such as this;

“Greenhouse scientific theory is well founded, despite the criticisms of sceptics and iconoclasts” (p. 51)

but much flannel about uncertainties and incoherence (the IPCC scientists being both self0interested AND “independent” as it suits his argument). There is much unreflective boosting of economic reports that say the costs will be astronomical. Most depressing of all, Tucker lists all the “tinges of hypocrisy evident at Berlin” (the first COP meeting, March/April 1995) including from “bureaucratic opportunists, environmental opportunists, ‘rich nation’ opportunists and ‘poor nation’ opportunists.

What’s missing? The interests of the oil and coal companies. Their opportunism is around delaying/deferring/shaping any regulations that would hurt their profits. Some of these companies have been known to fund the IPA. Tucker was unable to see them, which is sad and embarrassing for a trained observer. Ho hum.

It would be interesting to know what Tucker, who didn’t die until late 2010, thought of the attacks on Ben Santer (1995-6), or the attacks on Michael Mann (2004 onwards).

Which leads nicely into Mann’s BRILLIANT piece

Mann, M. (2015) “The Serengeti Strategy: How special interests try to intimidate scientists, and how best to fight back” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Vol. 71 (1) pp. 33-45.

The abstract says it best;

Much as lions on the Serengeti seek out vulnerable zebras at the edge of a herd, special interests faced with adverse scientific evidence often target individual scientists rather than take on an entire scientific field at once. Part of the reasoning behind this approach is that it is easier to bring down individuals than an entire group of scientists, and it still serves the larger aim: to dismiss, obscure, and misrepresent well-established science and its implications. In addition, such highly visible tactics create an atmosphere of intimidation that discourages other scientists from conveying their research’s implications to the public. This “Serengeti strategy” is often employed wherever there is a strong and widespread consensus among the world’s scientists about the under-lying cold, hard facts of a field, whether the subject be evolution, ozone depletion, the environmental impacts of DDT, the health effects of smoking, or human-caused climate change. The goal is to attack those researchers whose findings are inconvenient, rather than debate the findings themselves. This article draws upon the author’s own experience to examine the “Serengeti strategy,” and offers possible countermeasures to such orchestrated campaigns.

Full of verve, wit, quotable quotes and enraging details. Read this now!

Next up was Jensen, C. (2011) Focusing events, policy dictators and the dynamics of reform Policy Studies Vol 32, (2), pp. 143- 158.

Lots of good stuff in here on policy dictators, “existing policy monopoly” and so on. Useful indeed for the paper I am writing about Manchester (except Jensen was writing in a place where there was, in fact, a political opposition. In Manchester, there is none, with all the cynicism, complacency and incompetence that that implies/promotes).

Finally, made a start on Powell, WS., Koput, K., and Smith-Doerr, L. (1996) Interorganizational Collaboration and the Locus of Innovation: Networks of Learning in Biotechnology. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41, pp. 116-145.

Good stuff on who learns how and when during collaborations.

2 thoughts on “Stepper reading: Delayism from IPA, Mann’s “Serengeti Strategy” and “policy dictators”…

Add yours

  1. Michael Mann’s book “The Hockey Stick” is also well worth a read for broader context on climate politics in the US. He writes well and on top of it – he’s a really nice guy! If I was subjected to the public and political witch-hunt he’s had to endure I doubt I would be so nice!

    I did an interview with him which appeared in a special issue of Organization in September 2013. You can download it here:

    1. That’s good to know. Awful when one’s heroes have feet of clay!!

      Yes, will be reading it, but am trying to keep my America reading till I am done reading/writing the Australia stuff… I went into the whole “Wegman Affair” stuff a while back – crazy!!!

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