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November 06th 2012 print

Philippa Martyr

Early Christmas for the ARC crew

No need to wait for Santa if you are one of the recipients of 2013's research grants because the goodies are in the mail. As expected, projects focusing on climate change do very, very well

The 2013 ARC funding outcomes have been announced! In the words of prominent gender studies activist and noted peer reviewer Groucho Marx, "Let joy be unconfined! Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlour!" – especially if you’re researching climate change in a not-terribly-scientific discipline.

Here are some winners in the Discovery Project category – nice to see the Trekkies did well again this year, and it is actually reassuring to see an overall reduction in the number of non-science climate change projects. (NB: Be sure also to enter the search term "fortune telling" for a pleasant little surprise in Historical Studies:)

This project will investigate the ways in which climate policy in Australia and the United Kingdom deals with uncertainty in the timing of climate change and climate change impacts. It will evaluate the utility of various approaches to climate policy and the potential contradictions that arise between climate dynamics and the policy design. (Sociology, $237,865)

Nice work if you can get it – although I suggest that next time they try to hook up with the chap in Historical Studies who’s doing the project on fortune telling. Could work wonders.

Solutions to contemporary societal problems such as climate change mitigation require cultural transformations, namely, widespread changes in the ideas and practices of community members. This project will examine how people may achieve this in part by regulating their own temptations and actions for the good of the community. (Psychology, $410,137) 

Regulating our temptations and actions for the good of the community? Sounds awfully like religion, and a not-terribly-convincing one at that.

As the world seeks a clean energy future, courts in Australia and other key fossil fuel-producing nations, like the United States, are increasingly hearing cases seeking to block the use of coal due to its climate change effects. This project critically assesses the role such climate litigation plays in generating regulatory momentum to address climate change. (Law, $250,000)

Lawyers generating "regulatory momentum" – but isn’t that when lawyers make sure that legislation is turned inside out by judicial interpretation so that new laws are effectively created which need a whole lot of new regulation to make them make sense? "Oh, you big kidder," I hear you say, waving dismissively, "go on with you!"

This project details Australia’s role in science popularisation in the 1960s and 1970s, when the boundary between science fiction and science fact was often blurred. The project will explore how popular science of that era framed today’s crucial issues of climate change, overpopulation and space exploration. (Cultural Studies, $125,000) 

Awww. This is kind of sweet, really; someone loves those old 1970s yellow-paged Azimov short story collections as much as I do. You can get them really cheap but very tattered if you really fossick in the second-hand shops. (I have less fondness for chaps who just want an excuse to watch a slimmer, younger William Shatner snog a succession of bouffant-haired space babes in scanty lurex, but I suppose you can’t change human nature – although that Psychology project may want to have a go).

Philippa Martyr blogs at Transverse City