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  • Eugenie Lewis

Inspired Climate Career Pathways

At Creative Life Mapping, we consider your career to be the full expression of who you are and how you want to be in the world. With this definition, careers are all that you do. They go beyond paid work, and include volunteering, education and training, skill development, and community involvement. It is our hope to unite people with their “inspired career.” At the heart of inspired careers is identifying a challenge facing humanity and a passion to overcome that challenge.

Inspiration may start with self-reflection about values, desires, strengths, personal qualities and interests. It then leads to exploring possibilities. This may include investigating job opportunities, networking with others, gaining volunteer experiences, exploring certificate or degree programs, or researching workforce information.

Climate Careers bring together a shared vision of making difference, while creating hope and stability for future generations. This article explores possible Inspired Climate Career Pathways.

Climate Careers

In the Ted Talk, “No matter where we work, every job is a climate job now” Jamie Alexander, Director of Project Drawdown describes the need for all sectors of jobs to be engaged in the Climate Crisis. Although there is a growing number of companies that are fully devoted to climate solutions, she acknowledges that the urgency of climate change requires all of us! Ms. Alexander shares that to achieve net zero greenhouse gases “we need to unleash the power only rivalled by nature itself. We must open the floodgates to bring in workers from every part of the workforce to integrate their technical expertise, fresh approaches, diverse backgrounds and creativity.”

According to Career One Stop, a source for job information, there us a projected growth of green jobs that fall into three major categories:

  1. Existing jobs that require new “green” skills. Examples might include Architect, Builder, Contractor, Interior Designer or Energy Consultant. In these examples, additional green skills would include learning how to incorporate energy efficiency into building design and construction. In a recent video, Climate Reality Leader and Renewable Energy Executive Wei Tai-Kwok demonstrates how he converted his home to be powered by 100% renewable sources. He did this by installing 15 rooftop solar panels, using mini-split pumps for localized heating and cooling, and converting his gas stove to an electric cooktop among other measures.

  2. Existing jobs that will be in higher demand. These are jobs where the duties of the jobs don’t change, but are projected to grow as we move toward a sustainable economy that creates greater demand for green goods and services. Examples include agricultural inspectors, to meet the increased demand for sustainable farming techniques and regulations. Other examples include carpenters who are needed for green construction and retrofitting projects and mass transit vehicle operators.

  3. New and emerging green occupations. These are newer career opportunities that result from the focus on net-zero carbon emissions. Energy experts conduct audits of homes and buildings to determine energy-efficiency. Wind energy engineers design and develop wind farm systems. Sustainability officers oversee green activities within their organizations.

Education and Training Programs for Climate Careers

Using the philosophy that “every job is a green job,” you could similarly say that “every degree is a green degree.” However, there are degree programs that directly focus on the environment, climate and sustainability. These include degrees in sustainable agriculture, atmospheric studies, environmental sciences, forestry, marine science, sustainability studies and wildlife management. Then there are more traditional degree programs that may be supplemented with climate studies, such as architecture, engineering, finance, law and the basic sciences.

In this issue, I will provide examples of environmental studies degree programs. Because climate issues involve multiple disciplines, no one physical or social science degree program is sufficient to solve our world’s most pressing environmental problems. “Environmental Studies integrate knowledge from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities to analyze the complex interactions between humans and the environment, with the aim of providing students with the scholarly background and practical skills needed to address pressing environmental challenges.”

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) recently celebrated its 50th year of Environmental Studies programs. At UCSB you may seek a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies. UCSB also offers degrees in Hydrologic Sciences.

Rugg’s Recommendations on Colleges lists 231 colleges that offer degree programs in environmental studies. Some have specialties. For example, Depauw in Indiana specializes in environmental geoscience; the Florida Institute of Technology focuses on the coastal environment; and Lake Erie in Ohio offers a biology-environmental science program.

Students who graduate with environmental science degrees work in a variety of fields, including engineering, architecture, city and regional planning, science, environmental activism as well as city and regional planning.

Given the multidisciplinary nature of climate issues, if you have an interest in green careers, you have many options for degree programs. I suggest that you follow your main interest and skill area and look to make a difference in that arena.

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