It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Friday, March 6, 2009

Why "In It for the Gold"

For the record:

Probably the weakest reason for mistrusting us climate scientists is the idea that we are in it for the money. When I was a starving grad student, I told a dignified lady from rural Mississippi that I was doing climate modeling. She was briefly taken aback. After a beat, she gathered her wits and politely replied "Oh, that must be... lucrative".


1 comment:

John Mashey said...

Well, "lucrative" is a relative term; for many people, any sort of professional/technical job is lucrative. As an undergraduate, when I got a summer job as a low-level mathematician/programmer at the US Bureau of Mines, it was far more "lucrative" than my previous one washing dishes at a Holiday Inn.

In particular, note that NASA GISS is located in Manhattan, so any of those folks could have moved down to Wall Street with no problem.

But, certainly the basic point is quite valid. Anyone with the skillset to do do climate modeling could better elsewhere,and at least a few years ago.

NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND does graduate degrees in science with the primary goal of getting rich. Yes, it happens every once in a while but it's pretty rare. [A PhD in a some engineering discipline, or especially an undergrad degree in engineering or maybe science, followed by an MBA are better bets if the goal is getting rich.]

I used to help sell computers to Wall Street "rocket scientists" in the fine old 1990s. At that time (although probably not so much now), I used to keep running into old Bell Labs people who'd moved there, had much fancier titles, and were making a lot more money than at Bell Labs, which was not a penurious employer.