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An Economic and Political Analysis of the Growing Need for Global Environmental Measurement and Monitoring

  • Number of scholarships 1
  • Value £14,296 (pa for 3 years)
  • Opens 7 July 2016
  • Deadline 30 September 2016
  • Help with Tuition fees, Living costs
  • Duration 36 months

Eligibility

Candidates are required to have:

  • An excellent undergraduate degree with Honours in a relevant business, scientific/technological or social science subject
  • A Masters degree (or equivalent) will be strongly preferred.
  • Students may also have other relevant experience or skills which are relevant to this project.
  • All applications must be accompanied by a cover letter indicating the candidate's relevant skills/experience and how they can contribute to this research, as well as a CV and relevant qualification transcripts.
  • Students must be available to commence their academic studies in the UK by 1st January 2017
  • Two references will be required

Project Details

The use of fossil fuels as energy sources over the past 100 years has raised concerns about the impact that the change in atmospheric chemistry may have on global climate as well as the overall impact of the mining, manufacture and use of this fuel source has on human health and welfare.  Predictions of climate change rely on complex thermodynamic models predicting the many factors that influence climate:  CO2 emissions and percentage increases, other greenhouse gas concentrations in the upper atmosphere, cloud cover, ocean currents and temperatures, reduced CO2 reclamation by vegetation, growing release of trapped methane in tundra and sub-ocean ice, and many other factors.  Accurate models require global wide measurement of these variables using metrological technology that is either not currently in place or where investment in new capabilities and instrumentation is necessary to make cost-effective, global-wide coverage possible.   In addition, over and above the matter of the potential impact of greenhouse gasses on climate change, the issue of major health impacts due to mining and combustion of fossil fuels is well-document:  acid rain, emission of small particle carcinogens near coal power plants and during shipments of coal, Sulphur dioxide and other toxic gas emissions, black-lung disease from coal mining, drinking water contamination due to fracking etc. 

Several topics need to be studied more extensively to determine if a global network for monitoring and measuring these important environmental variables can be financed and developed:

  • Are there private sector incentives to develop and manufacture the requisite technology?
    • What are the costs to develop and manufacture?
    • Who will pay for this?
  • Will it be necessary to establish an international entity for this initiative?
    • Who will fund this initiative?
  • How does this relate to United Nations Internal Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?
    • How important is the appearance of neutrality on the issue of the impact of greenhouse gases on climate change?
  • Will governments be willing to participate in such an initiative
    • Are there Security concerns?
    • What is the impact on economic growth?
  • Will there be a “first world vs third world” conflict in supporting a global monitoring initiative?
  • What are the key climate and environmental variables that need to be measured?
    • Do these technologies exist?
    • What is the cost of developing and putting these devices in the field?
  • What is current and projected cost impact of providing medical services for those affected by fossil fuel use?
    • Will reduction in fossil fuel use reduce these costs substantially?
  • Given the recent IPCC agreement how will compliance being assessed?
  • Is it possible or reasonable to establish a global cap and trade agreement for fossil fuels, i.e. establishment of an international carbon tax and credit agreement?  How could a global monitoring network be used in conjunction with a global carbon cap and trade economy?
  • An essential technology component used in the majority of wide-area environmental monitoring involve optics and photonics devices and instruments.  Scotland has a vital and growing optics and photonics industry.  What local impact will an international initiative have on Scottish high technology industry?

Further Information

Supervisor Team:

Professor David Hillier, Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde

Professor Tom Baer, Stanford Photonics Research Center, University of Stanford

Professor Allister Ferguson, Department of Physics, University of Starthclyde