Judith Curry has an interesting discussion on her web site, Climate, Etc.: “Academics and the grid Part I: I don’t think that study means what you think it means,” by Planning Engineer (Russell Schussler). In this paragraph, substitute foresters (natural resource managers of a variety of disciplines, including those who use Rx fire) for practicing engineers:
There’s been a lot of discussion about the differences between scientists and engineers. The boundaries can get blurry and often are non-existent. In the energy power system arena, perhaps to my past professor’s chagrin, I’m afraid the more important boundary might be between academics and practicing engineers. Academics can approach the grid with some detachment while practicing engineers must keep it running 24/7/365. Practicing engineers have skin in the game and typically face consequences for errors and shortcomings, while academics and unfortunately many policy makers are more insulated. This brings to mind Thomas Sowell’s guidance, “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”
Academics and interest groups can approach forest management with some detachment while foresters must keep forests healthy and protect a range of values 24/7/365. Foresters have skin in the game and typically face consequences for errors and shortcomings, while academics, interest groups, and unfortunately many policy makers are more insulated.
Also from the essay:
The path for innovation for the grid is most likely to follow the model of power electronics. Academics propose and refine an approach for the enhancement of the grid and/or power supply. Detailed serious evaluations of the approach take place and maybe additional research is warranted. Engineers determine specific areas where the new approaches might be most successful and the approach can be employed or tested. Project successes will be followed by further improvements and refinements and led to greater expansion as warranted.
That model seems preferable to this one: Academics propose and refine an approach for the enhancement of the grid and/or power supply (or a complete transition of the grid). The media and policy makers determine it is worthwhile. Policy makers and the public push for sweeping changes that are mandated. Everyone struggles to implement the new approach broadly in a sweeping near universal manner.
This second model is often employed in forest management…. Just food for thought and discussion.