Jerry McNerney, Member of the United States Congress (D-California), speaking in the House of Representatives, November 16, 2012:
Madam Speaker, I rise today to bring your attention to an exciting new project, Mathematics of Planet Earth, which begins in 2013. More than 100 different organizations from around the world have come together to outline mathematics’ integral role in solving real-world issues, including energy freedom, medical challenges, and weather events. As someone who has earned a Ph.D. in mathematics and went on to work in the renewable energy sector for two decades, I know mathematics can be an essential feature to finding solutions to many challenges facing humanity.
The Mathematics of Planet Earth projects will spotlight the importance of mathematics. A national focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education will ensure the United States remains a competitive force in the global marketplace. People across our Nation are working together to create a better world, and it is important that their efforts be recognized and supported. I encourage my colleagues to join me in recognizing the benefits and goals of the Mathematics of Planet Earth project.
Cédric Villani, Director of the Institute Henri Poincaré (IHP) in Paris, and Fields medalist 2010:
We think we are in the middle of an economic crisis, but that crisis may be nothing in comparison of the ecological crisis that we are, and will be facing. At this time it is important to recall that all of mankind’s intellectual resources will be helpful to help solving these issues, and that includes mathematical sciences as well; thus the global participation of mathematical institutes worldwide in MPE 2013 imposed itself as obvious to me.
Ehrhard Behrends, Chair of the Public Awareness Committee of the European Mathematical Society (EMS):
There is a lot of enthusiasm with MPE 2013 in Europe. I hope that the competition will generate many good ideas to help our colleagues with their public awareness projects. I am also coordinating the monthly publication of long MPE 2013 articles in DIE WELT, a large nationwide newspaper. For December 2013 the EMS will present a Diderot forum where colleagues in Berlin, Exeter and Zagreb will give lectures that will be broadcast to all three cities.
Doyne Farmer, Professor of Mathematics and Co-Director, Oxford Martin Programme on Complexity, Oxford University:
Achieving sustainability requires understanding the complex interactions between a vast number of systems including climate, economics, technological progress, geology, ecology, space science, population control, security, global politics, and mass psychology. Sustainability forces us to think clearly about our vision of the future, putting philosophy into direct contact with science. As scientists our job is to try to understand causes and effects, both by making predictions and by quantifying the vast uncertainties in these predictions as best we can. But we need mathematicians to work with physicists, ecologists, economists, etc. to ensure that we are using the right model.
Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General:
UNESCO ne peut que saluer ce projet mondial qui contribuera très certainement à promouvoir les mathématiques auprès du grand public, notamment les plus jeunes. Ce faisant, l’esprit de cette opération épouse pleinement les missions de notre Organisation.
John Toland, Director of the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences:
Because mathematics is the language in which all things are quantified it has a bearing on every aspects of our lives and cultures, whether we recognise it or not. Banking, security protocols, tsunami forecasting, medical scanning technology, airline scheduling and satellite navigation all have one thing in common: mathematics.
The scope of Mathematics of Planet Earth is limited only by our imaginations.
Marty Golubitsky, Director of the NSF-funded Mathematical Biosciences Institute at The Ohio State University:
Questions in the biological and life sciences are becoming more quantitative (e.g. how do we model the spread of epidemic diseases to aid treatment and prevention; how do we find genes associated with aging; what are the most effective dosage schedules in treating cancer). Such questions are opportunities for the mathematical sciences to help forward societal goals.
Richard Smith, Director of the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI):
We hear a lot about climate change, but I don’t think the general public appreciates the extent to which this is just one of many environmental and ecological challenges facing mankind, or the contribution of mathematics and statistics towards understanding and solving these challenges. Here at SAMSI, we have been particularly active in this field with recent programs on such topics as spatial statistics, uncertainty quantification and the analysis of massive datasets, all partly motivated by problems of earth and the environment. We are delighted to be participating in MPE2013 which gives us a wonderful opportunity to showcase these activities for the wider public.
Fred S. Roberts, Director Emeritus of the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS) and Chair of Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013+:
The human population recently surpassed 7 billion and the earth and its resources face challenges that affect all 7 billion of us. We all need food, housing, clean water, and energy, and yet the resources of the earth to supply these needs are limited. To protect our planet, we need to understand how our actions impact the environment, how we can lessen that impact, and how we can plan for changes we are already beginning to see. Dealing with these problems presents challenges that are fundamentally multidisciplinary and the mathematical sciences have an important role to play. A large community of mathematical scientists has stepped forward to embrace this role through participation in the Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE) project and we should all find a way to become involved.
Michael Pearson, Executive Director of the Mathematical Association of America:
Understanding our planet requires that we engage future generations of mathematical scientists who are prepared to bring a broad range of quantitative tools to bear on the complex challenges we face. The immediacy of the problems can also serve to attract the next generation of students to develop the skills needed to succeed. MAA’s historic role in shaping the undergraduate program offer opportunities for us to leverage the Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 effort to enrich the classroom experience for all students, and to broaden society’s perception of the role of mathematics in addressing fundamental challenges for a sustainable future.
Keith Taylor, President of the Canadian Mathematical Society:
MPE2013 will draw the attention of thought leaders, policy makers and the general public to the great complexity of the interacting systems of our planet and the profound nature of the techniques needed to understand the dynamics of those systems. Canada can be very proud of the MPE2013 initiative which has gathered world-wide momentum.
Dennis Berkey, President and CEO, Worcester Polytechnic Institute:
Mathematics is the language of science and technology, and the toolkit by which these and related disciplines explicate their increasingly complex, interdisciplinary, and important investigations into the workings of the natural world and the power of these disciplines to affect it. The applications of mathematics in this work are wide and profound. Yet, as members of the natural world ourselves, our minds continue to produce mathematical structures, questions, and achievements which may seem to some arcane, but which often find powerful use in the continuing advance of knowledge. The beautiful aesthetics, in art, architecture, music, and poetry, from mathematical relationships is a stunning reminder of its great value in all human thought. The hope, especially in the MPE2013 project, is for the continuing positive impact on the important challenges in the preservation of our natural environment, economic stability, and social advance.
Bogdan Vernescu, President , National Professional Science Master’s Association (NPSMA):
Unprecedented in its all encompassing scope and geographic reach, the MPE2013 year brings to the forefront the universality of mathematics, with the hopes of making the general public aware of the insights it provides into many human endeavors, of its capability of predicting natural phenomena and processes, as well as its power of creating and shaping new discoveries. The year is also aimed at bringing the mathematics community together to work on the challenges facing the planet, at a time when all human activities have global significance and impact. At the same time, we need not only inspire the new generation, but also develop new educational programs for them, that sow the seeds of the needed mathematical insights and cultivate vital quantitative skills, in a multidisciplinary and interconnected world that requires a workforce adaptable to fast changes and simultaneous challenges.
Donald E. McClure, Executive Director of the American Mathematical Society:
The American Mathematical Society applauds the institutes’ initiative in organizing the global MPE2013 effort. We are pleased to provide the venue for the United States launch of MPE2013 at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego, where the scientific program places considerable emphasis on the MPE2013 theme. The AMS is also a partner with three other US societies for the JPBM Mathematics Awareness Month in April advancing public awareness about the “Mathematics of Sustainability,” a topic motivated by MPE2013.
Simon Levin, Director of the Center for BioComplexity, Princeton University:
Mathematics has much to contribute to solving the problems faced in achieving sustainability—from the physics and biology of the biosphere, to the engineering of solutions, to the social science of implementation. The latter may represent the greatest challenge, in that the greatest stumbling blocks to success are in learning to live together in a Global Commons.
Alejandro Adem, Director, Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences:
Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 is a worldwide initiative meant to showcase and develop the fundamental role played by mathematics in a huge variety of planetary contexts. Climate change, sustainability, diseases and epidemics, management of resources and risk analysis are important aspects of all this. Mathematics plays a key role in these and many other processes affecting Planet Earth, both as a fundamental discipline and as a key component of multidisciplinary research. PIMS and the other Canadian institutes are proud to have played a leading role in launching this initiative.
Mary Thompson, Scientific Director, Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute:
Our very new institute is happy to participate in the Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE) project. The statistical sciences play a fundamental role in the collection and interpretation of environmental and population data. To give a few examples: in collaboration with physical scientists and biologists, statisticians use stochastic modeling and statistical analysis to separate signal from noise in vast amounts of climate data, to understand the fluctuations and the movements of wildlife populations, to predict the course of disease outbreaks, and to infer the processes of evolution from genetic sequencing. The MPE2013 project will inspire researchers around the world to become involved with these problems of global importance.
Jeannette Janssen, Director, Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences:
Mathematical methods are crucial in understanding the complex interaction between the diverse processes that shape our environment on planet earth. The initiative on MPE is a great way to teach earth’s citizens about the mathematics that lie beneath many discoveries about our planet, and to encourage mathematicians to confront the great challenges that face it. AARMS is proud to lend its support.
Catherine A. Roberts, Editor, “Natural Resource Modeling”:
Without scientific expertise being brought to bear on these important matters, the responsible management of our vulnerable resources could become misaligned. Scientists working at the intersection of mathematical modeling, environmental science, and natural resource management play an essential role going forward. We must leverage our work so that it is taken into consideration by policy makers at every step of the process.
Edward Bierstone, Director of the Fields Institute:
Climate change and sustainability of the earth’s environment are challenges that need to be addressed with urgency by scientists in all fields. Mathematicians have a lot to contribute. The world’s mathematics institutes have developed a capacity for interdisciplinary activity, and can bring together researchers across discipline boundaries to help generate new ideas to tackle environmental problems. MPE2013 is a very important initiative.
Christian Léger, President, Statistical Society of Canada:
The Statistical Society of Canada is pleased to join our mathematical colleagues in showcasing what statistics and mathematics have to offer to improve our planet as part of the Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE) project. Using the understanding of our scientific colleagues from many different fields and the power of the language of mathematics, we can develop random models that explain, for instance, the trajectory of marine animals, how epidemics spread, how climate changes, and so on. The models are then confronted to data leading to improved models and improved understanding. Statistical modelling is crucial to extract the signal from the surrounding noise of the data. In May, Canadian statisticians will convene for their Annual Meeting in Edmonton, Alberta to discuss statistical methodology. This year’s theme of Statistics and the Environment is quite fitting and will be our main contribution to the MPE program.