Andy Russell made a suggestion:

I was having a discussion in the comments on this blog recently about science funding. Amongst other things, a theory cropped up that to get funded research proposals must include some link, however desperate, with climate change.

[…]

All the same, if you fancy playing climate change buzzword bingo, there’s a website here where you can search through all the grants that the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) award with little descriptions of the project. Happy hunting!

So I did. The NERC website as I write says:

Daily update: 8779 awards have or will receive funding worth a total of £1,225,406,898

So how many had the words “climate change” in the title or abstract? The result was:

1084 grant, fellowship and training grant records. Total value of £202,868,701

So, about 1 in 8 of the awards, totalling about one sixth of the awarded money, which does seem a little high to me. But where does that take us? There are studies like A comparative study of meteoric metals in the upper atmosphere, which has nothing to do with man made climate change, which is a possible source of confusion here. I don’t think this approach is capable of resolving the debate; you’d need to analyse successful grant applications against unsuccessful ones, in similar or identical topics, and see whether there’s anything statistically unusual about applications that mention the climate.

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2 thoughts on “Climate change and research grants

  1. A bit more context, NERC is one of seven research councils in the UK, so 1 in 8 NERC (which is the environmental science one) grants being related to climate change is lower than I would have guessed.

    As for “A comparative study of meteoric metals in the upper atmosphere”, it sounds like they were developing a method of measuring atmospheric composition, which would then be used to test model analyses. Sounds quite relevant to climate science in 1995 when that grant was awarded.

  2. “Sounds quite relevant to climate science…”

    For sure, that’s implicit in my comment. What it is plainly not relevant to is man-made climate change.

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