Nobody’s idea of a good time.
If the thought of the Amazon burning, farmers brought to their knees by droughts or floods, Pacific Islanders losing their homes and whales choking on plastic soup makes you want to DO something, consider choosing a future career that connects your passion for the environment with practical opportunities to make a difference. We’ve delved into some of the careers that focus on finding solutions for a more sustainable future.
Agricultural and food scientists
Scientists estimate that as much as half of all food in the world gets wasted after being produced – a scary thought, given that the climate crisis will eventually make serious food shortages a very real concern. We have to learn to eat differently, and explore sustainable alternatives to farming our food
. Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products. They may develop techniques for increasing productivity, advise farmers, rural industries and government on aspects of farming, and study and develop plans and policies for food or resource management
Getting my veggies on.
Urban growing is a fledgling area of food production that is becoming increasingly more popular – and important for future food security and the optimal use of available resources. Urban Growers look at using spaces such as rooftop gardens, balconies, public parks and even private gardens as areas to practise sustainable ways of producing locally sourced foods. There are even hotels that are starting to grow most of their own produce in kitchen gardens on the premises. Urban Growing focuses on minimising the use of pesticides, fossil fuels and other resources used to grow and transport food to market from larger commercial farms. Turning rooftops into “green” spaces filled with growing things can also improve the urban environment by insulating buildings against energy loss, managing storm water, improving air quality and providing places of recreation for people. If you want to learn more about growing green things, consider becoming a gardener
, or getting experience as a garden and nursery labourer to get started.
Wanna eat? Gotta garden!
Renewable energy scientists and engineers
It’s important to move away from fossil fuel use and find renewable energy solutions for our future. Renewable energy scientists and engineers research and develop solutions in renewable energy sectors such as wind, wave and solar power, and research and discover new ways of powering our lifestyles in a more sustainable way.
And motion can generate energy.
Urban and regional planners
Urban and Regional Planners develop and implement plans and policies for the controlled use of urban and rural land, and advise on economic, environmental and social factors affecting land use. As cities grow bigger and become more populated, urban and regional planners will have to find solutions to develop land in an environmentally sustainable way
, and create healthy communities that accommodate population growth and revitalise physical facilities such as community or recreation centres in towns and cities without negatively impacting the environment.
Level up on green.
Hydrologists and Water Quality Technicians
Water is a source of life, and an increasingly precious resource. While the amount of water on earth doesn’t change, it is getting increasingly more polluted (micro plastics, anyone?), and changing weather patterns impact where the water “goes”, causing droughts in some countries, and floods in others. Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust, while Water Quality Technicians focus on identifying and solving water quality problems in an environmentally friendly way.
Natural and Environmental Scientists and Specialists
There are countless areas in which natural and environmental scientists can use their skills to monitor and analyse our impact on the planet
and the natural resources we depend on to survive. You might measure ocean water acidity off the Great Barrier Reef, or inspect the impact of planting more trees in an urban environment, for example. You won’t be stuck in a lab 24/7, either: environmental scientists do a range of things, such as scientific research, cleaning up polluted areas, advising policymakers or working with industry to avoid waste. You could also choose to become a Science Technician, focusing on performing tests and experiments
and providing technical support functions to assist with research, design, production and teaching in chemistry, earth sciences, life sciences and physical sciences.
Hmmm, what to do with climate change deniers...
Atmospheric scientists and meteorologists
Always have your head in the clouds? Make it a career choice! Atmospheric scientists study the weather and climate, and how those conditions affect human activity and the earth in general. You’ll study weather phenomena such as hurricanes, floods, droughts and storms, and figure out how climate change impacts changing weather patterns. You’ll also play an important role in building systems to warn people about extreme weather events.
If science fascinates you, give environmental engineering a shot. You’ll use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology and chemistry to develop solutions to major environmental problems. Environmental Engineers can work on problems such as improving recycling, waste disposal, public health and water and air pollution control.
You could research solutions for drought-stricken Australian farmers, or help to prevent a Fish Armageddon in the Murray-Darling Basin, for example.
Green Builders, Architects and Landscape Architects
Green Builders, Architects and Landscape Architects relook the materials and techniques we use to build our homes, office buildings and shared spaces.
Design processes could look at how we create buildings to be more energy efficient and “green’, how we utilise spaces (such as rooftops) in environmentally friendly ways and how we find unique solutions to environmental challenges. Materials could include bricks made from ecologically friendly materials such as earth, or discarded refuse, such as tires and plastic bottles. In this way, safe spaces are created using rubbish that would otherwise have been thrown away – sustainability win!
The day Paradise reclaimed a parking lot...
Green design professionals include anything from architects to landscapers and urban planners. One example of interesting green design is The Living Roof of the California Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. The roof is home to 1.7 million plants, from poppies to strawberries, has skylights that open and close throughout the day to illuminate the building within, and keeps the interior of the building cool and energy efficient.
If you care about animals, plants and everything outdoors, becoming a conservation scientist could be the way to go. You won’t just be working with animals, though: conservation scientists often have to work with a whole range of people in their quest to protect the environment! Typical work includes coordinating with landowners and federal, state and local governments to ensure resources and forests are utilised properly, in a way that balances the earth’s best interests with those of local businesses and communities.
Conservation Park and Wildlife Officers develop and implement programs and regulations for the protection of fish, wildlife and other natural resources
. They also assist in controlling a State or national park, scenic area, historic site, nature reserve, recreation area or conservation reserve.
I don’t remember eating that?
Zoologist or wildlife biologist
Good news: this field is so broad that you could constantly keep on discovering new skills and areas to focus on during your career as a zoologist or wildlife biologist! You could specialise in becoming an expert on mammals, birds or marine life, for example… You’ll be working to understand the role of animals, their complex relationships with their habitats, and how humans can best live with – not without – them.
Hey, you, wanna help me survive?
Earth needs fighters on her side – and as an environmental lawyer, you could be on the front lines of taking on big corporations (and even governments!) that don’t care about the damage they do to our natural resources. Environmental lawyers can be involved in diverse areas
: from helping organisations, companies and individuals resolve legal issues that involve the environment, to holding companies accountable for environmental disasters such as oil spills, protecting land from being irresponsible deforestation practices or giving underrepresented people a voice when it comes to industry’s impact on their homes and land.
Remember: there are loads of industries in which you can find a way to make a difference to the future of earth and our environment. Keep on exploring the different industries out there
, and choose a path that combines your skills with your passion to make a real difference!
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