Global Warming Market for Schmidts?
What was wrong with meteorology, climatology, or atmospheric physics? Or is this a wheeze to get more mathematicians in on the CAGW action? One thinks of Gavin Schmidt and shudders.
‘Climate change represents an urgent challenge for humanity. Quantifying uncertainty in long‐term climate prediction and estimating the potential strength of extreme meteorological events in the face of global warming are very difficult research questions, with large economic and societal impacts that will only grow in the future.
In response to this challenge, Imperial College London and the University of Reading have joined forces to create the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in the Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE).
Students in the MPE CDT will receive cohort-based PhD training in the mathematical and computational techniques needed to understand, predict and quantify risk and uncertainty for extreme weather and climate change. In particular, our PhD students will receive training which ranges from the data-driven domain represented by statistics, to the model-driven domain represented by analysis and mechanics.’
Now what is MPE cohort-based PhD training if it is not a high-volume production line for Schmidt Mark IIs? The job market for them may not be that promising, according to Josh:
A recent advert for students notes:
‘The MPE CDT offers an exciting opportunity to research all aspects of mathematics and statistics relevant to the study of weather, oceans and climate. The MPE CDT is a 1+3 year funded PhD programme, with the first year taking the form of an MRes (Masters by Research) course, leading to a jointly awarded degree from Imperial College London and the University of Reading. The following 3 years focus on the PhD project, and lead to the award of a PhD. The MPE CDT would like to receive applications from those who have (or expect to receive) a first class degree in mathematics, statistics, physics or closely related subject (or equivalent from other countries). No prior knowledge of environmental science is required. ‘
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in New York, Gavin himself has popped up through a hole in the floor to captivate high school pupils with tales of his life and work:
You too could be like him, and make a good living out of scaring people. More details, including exclusive pictures of live prototypes, here: http://mpecdt.org/
Details of the EPSRC grant funding this can be found here. £5,463,490 of taxpayers’ money. The applicants were successful because they wrote things on their application form like
“What was once viewed as something that might happen in the future is now part of daily life.”
Your quote comes from a thing called a Grant Application Form published by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, but I’m not clear who wrote it. Is it the Council itself, or is it someone making an application for a grant?
Whoever it is, it’s worth reading in full to get a feel for the way people express themselves in the world of science (or applications for funding to do science, or whatever this is). The first sentence reads:
“Our environment has a major influence on all aspects of human endeavour ranging from the mundane, such as deciding whether to cycle or take the bus to work, to the exceptional, such as coping with the ever more damaging effects of extreme natural phenomena (tropical storms, inundations, tsunamis, droughts, etc.).”
From taking the bus to tsunamis in one sentence. What is this? A course in surrealist poetry? Anglian Water is involved, as well as the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Max Planck Institutes (grouped) so it must be serious, but what’s it about?
I have the same problem understanding this as I do on Twitter. Who’s saying this? To whom? And why?
I thought the grant application reminded me of some medieval Jesuits asking the Pope for funds to train young priests and send them forth into the world on missions. Then I Googled ‘Jesuit appeal for funds’ and was humbled by the straightforward invitations to help, and the direct to the point of need approach being taken in entry after entry – all modern. So, I’m not going to pursue this analogy any further.
Geoff, that summary will have been written by the people applying for the grant, Prof Crisan and his colleagues, as part of their application form, back in 2012 or 2013.
The whole application (not publicly available) will have been many pages long. Most of the application will have consisted of more technical stuff and details of exactly what they wanted to do, how the money was going to be spent, why it was good value and so on, but applicants also have to write a summary in not-too-technical terms aimed at a general public audience.
So to answer your final questions, Prof Crisan et al are saying this, to the taxpayer, to justify the use of £5M of the latter’s money.
Applying for grant money in this way is a rather farcical process. To stand any chance of being funded, you have to make vastly exaggerated claims about what your research will do, for example saying that your mathematical modelling is going to cure cancer, or be vitally important to the UK economy, or in this case save the planet.