A new year is starting today. What will happen during this year? Will it again be warmer that than the normal, as have been the last 12 years? Will extreme meteorological events threaten our crops? Can we expect dramatic hurricanes next fall? When and where will the next strong earthquake happen? Will the world economy continue its recovery from the last economic crisis? Will new invasive species destabilize or destroy our ecosystems? When and where will the next pandemic occur?
We are all curious to better know our planet, and better understand its future. Part of what we cannot see with our eyes, we can discover with our mathematical glasses. For many of us, mathematicians, we had not brought together our natural curiosity about our planet and our professional activities in research and teaching. Mathematics of planet Earth is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the role of mathematics in the understanding and solution of planetary problems.
During the whole year, in parallel with the scientific activities for specialists, MPE activities will occur on a regular basis around the world: colloquium talks, public lectures, activities for the schools. Hence, this provides an excellent opportunity to learn about MPE topics and the mathematical questions and developments behind these topics.
The success of MPE2013 comes from the fact that it is so timely. The scientific community, including the mathematical community is aware of the need for new scientific developments to understand the planetary problems. In the schools, it is more important than ever to explain why mathematics is important: linking mathematics to societal problems is an excellent way to do so.
There are no late comers with MPE2013. The planetary problems will, unfortunately, not be solved by the end of 2013. The curriculum material highlighting applications of mathematics to planet Earth problems that will have been developed for 2013 will start a new trend in education: more universities may decide to start programs in mathematics of the environment. Books may be produced in the long term. More enrichment material for the schools will be produced in the coming years. The community will have appreciated the benefits of an international collaboration.
New partners continue to join and activities to be planned. India is organizing a large MPE competition in the schools of the countries with deadline in mid-June 2013. The University of Education in Vietnam is organizing an MPE math camp for students next summer. Malaysia organized a national launch on December 15. Two days of MPE activities are now planned in Mali, targeting all school levels starting from kindergarden. In Canada, the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences in working on mathematics education for aboriginal communities. There is a lot of enthusiasm in these communities for MPE2013: linking nature to the teaching of mathematics is very close to the values of aboriginal communities, and likely to interest students and to encourage drop-outs to continue their studies.