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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  • 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.

  • Peter Risdon

    “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.