Sian Bethan, Environmental consultant

“To protect the environment we must be able to make accurate predictions.”

I work for a company that predicts the environmental consequences of air pollution. If a company wishes to build a new factory, it must demonstrate that any pollution emitted to the air from chimneys and vents will not be harmful to the environment, i.e. to humans and plants. Industrial companies will often contact specialist companies such as ours to do this work.

To calculate the impact of the pollution on the environment, we use a mathematical computer model. If we supply the model with information on the chimney (such as its height), the amount of pollution coming from the chimney, and weather information (such as wind speed and direction), the model will calculate whether or not the proposed factory will be harmful to the environment and in turn whether or not it can be built.

Being able to make predictions about the future is important in many jobs such as this one and it is impossible to make predictions without using maths.