Research

My current research and recent publications are listed below. You can find a full list in my CV.

Journal Articles

Guess, Andrew M., Michael Lerner, Benjamin Lyons, Jacob M. Montgomery, Brendan Nyhan, Jason Reifler, and Neelanjan Sircar. Forthcoming. “A Digital Media Literacy Intervention Increases Discernment between Mainstream and False News in the United States and India.” Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

 

Cory, Jared, Michael Lerner, and Iain Osgood. 2020. “Supply Chain Linkages and the Extended Carbon Coalition.” American Journal of Political Science.

Abstract

Which firms oppose action to fight climate change? Networks of input sourcing and sales to downstream customers ought to propagate and reinforce opposition to decarbonization beyond direct emitters of CO2. To test this claim, we build the largest data set of public political activity for and against climate action in the United States, revealing that the majority of corporate opposition to climate action comes from outside the highest‐emitting industries. We construct new measures of the carbon intensity of firms and show that policy exposure via carbon‐intensive inputs and sales to downstream emitters explains this large volume of opposition from non‐emitting industries. Sixty‐six percent of U.S. lobbying on climate policy has been conducted by an extended coalition of firms, associations, and other groups that have publicly opposed reducing carbon emissions. Public opposition to climate action by carbon‐connected industries is therefore broad‐based, highly organized, and matched with extensive lobbying.

 

Lerner, Michael, Ryo Fujikura, Mikiyasu Nakayama, and Manami Fujikura. 2016. “The Influence of Limits to Growth and Global 2000 on U.S. Environmental Governance.” International Journal of Social Science Studies 4 (8).

Abstract

This paper assesses the influence of two reports, “The Limits to Growth” and “The Global 2000 Report to the President—Entering the Twenty-First Century,” on environmental governance in the United States. Published in 1972 and 1980, respectively, both reports used different methodologies to project changes to the global environment, but reached similar conclusions: business-as-usual economic growth was unsustainable and would lead to the collapse of Earth’s life-support systems in the 21st century. Relying on eight oral interviews conducted with experienced and influential persons from environmental NGOs, academia, and the U.S. government, supplemented by a systematic literature review, this analysis finds Limits and Global 2000 had a limited influence on U.S. environmental governance. The reports contributed to greater awareness of the need for sustainable growth, especially among environmentalists, the U.S. government, and the business community; introduced system dynamics and computer modeling to the environmental policymaking process; and directly catalyzed some policy development, particularly in the context of international environmental negotiations. Despite these achievements, Limits and Global 2000 could not catalyze movement toward sustainable development at sufficient scale. The reports’ recommendations were rebuffed by the hostile political agenda of the Reagan Administration, their proponents frustrated by policymaking tools ill-suited to long-term system-level decisionmaking, and their message subsumed by the drive for short-term economic growth. The reports’ projections remain largely valid, but decisionmakers have long dismissed them as irrelevant.

Working Papers and Current Projects

Lerner, Michael and Charles R. Shipan. “Political Institutions and the Durability of Environmental Policy.”

Lerner, Michael. “Technological Change and the Politics of Siting Utility-scale Wind Power in the United States”

Drafts available upon request

Other Academic Publications

Lerner, Michael. February 2019. Review of Defending Giants: The Redwood Wars and the Transformation of American Environmental Politics by Darren Frederick Speece. National Political Science Review 20 (1).

Basile, Samantha, Michael Lerner, and Keyon Rostamnezhad. December 2018.  “Boost University Voices at COP24 UN Climate Meeting.” Nature 564 (7734): 39.

Press

Professional Publications

Harris, Theresa L., Jonathan Drake, Jessica M. Wyndham, Susan R. Wolfinbarger, Stephen D. Lott, and Michael Lerner. July 2018. “Geospatial Evidence in International Human Rights Litigation: Technical and Legal Considerations.” Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program (SRHRL) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Abstract

This report provides the first comprehensive assessment of how geospatial technologies have been used in international human rights litigation, including an exhaustive review of international human rights court cases in which satellite imagery and remote sensing have been presented as evidence. Based on the experience of AAAS as a leader in the use of geospatial technologies such as remote sensing for human rights documentation, the report makes recommendations for international courts, human rights NGOs, geospatial analysts, government agencies and private providers of imagery on how best to incorporate these technologies into human rights practice and international justice proceedings.

 

Bruch, Carl, Michael Lerner, and Claudia D’Andrea. “Political Economy Analysis: Protecting Biodiversity and Reducing Unintended Consequences.” January 2017. Policy Brief No. 13. Environmental Law Institute. Washington, DC.

Abstract

To protect biodiversity, this methodology provides contextual understanding that is necessary for programs to be sensitive to conflict — from social tensions to riots to wars — yielding more appropriate and effective solutions and reducing unintended consequences.

 

Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit (JEU). June 2016. “Alternative Classification Schemes for Man-Made Hazards in the Context of the Implementation of the Sendai Framework.” Prepared on behalf of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Industrial and Chemical Accidents. Geneva, Switzerland.

Abstract

This analysis provides consolidated input from the members of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Industrial and Chemical Accidents to the Open-ended Intergovernmental Expert Working Group on Indicators and Terminology Relating to Disaster Risk Reduction. After an overview of existing classification schemes for man-made (human-induced) hazards, the paper presents key considerations for the design of a classification scheme for man-made hazards in the context of the implementation of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction. These are: 1) whether to include social hazards, 2) how to address triggering and cascading events, 3) whether to include intentional hazards, 4) how to incorporate contextual information beyond the hazard itself, and 5) how reporting thresholds influence the design of the classification scheme. This is followed by a demonstration of three alternative systems for structuring the classification of man-made hazards: 1) list, 2) matrix, and 3) causal loop diagram. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of how the decisions made by member states will influence the scope and structure of the implementation of the Sendai Framework.

 

Lerner, Michael. October 2014. “Opportunity, Risk, and Public Acceptability: The Question of Shale Gas Exploitation in Québec.” Issues in Energy and Environmental Policy. Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy. Ann Arbor, MI.

Abstract

The Canadian province of Québec has the largest reserves of shale gas in Eastern Canada, but Québeckers are in the midst of a heated debate over the desirability of exploiting this resource. At issue is the controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The provincial government has decided to proceed cautiously. In 2011, Québec instituted a temporary moratorium, still in effect, on shale gas development in order to conduct consultations with experts and members of the public that has continued to present day. Recently, the government released the results of the experts’ report, the Strategic Environmental Evaluation. This paper highlights the report’s key findings about the potential economic benefits, environmental risks, and public acceptability of shale gas development. Québec’s balanced approach to the complex, technical issue of shale gas development represents a deliberative approach to governance that emphasizes extensive public engagement.