CAlifornia is in the midst of a drought that some publications have called “devastating”. biblical. Colorado now has Fire yearsInstead of fire seasons. Miami, which is subject to more powerful hurricanes each years, is looking at building a tower. Stunning seawallProtect it from storm surges by staying in one of the most picturesque tourist areas of the city
Rachel Larrivee, a sustainability consultant based out of Boston, says that once you see how badly the world’s ecosystems are in danger, it is not something you can ignore. For me, it’s not worth pursuing a career in another field.
Larrivee is just one of the many members of Gen Z. This generation roughly includes young people under 25 who are responding to the planet’s rapidly changing climate and are committing their lives towards finding a solution. Survey after SurveyYoung people aren’t just adapting new climate-conscious behavior to their daily lives, they’re also doing it for the long-term. College administrators say surging numbers of students are pursuing environmental-related degrees and careers that were once considered irresponsible, romantic flights of fancy compared to more stable paths like business, medicine, or law.
Mimi Ausland (25), founder of Free the Ocean a company that aims at removing plastic from the ocean, stated that she cannot imagine a job that isn’t connected to being a small part.
Washington Democrats hope to channel that energy through the proposed Civilian Climate Corps. This federal jobs program is for young people who want to fight climate change and conserve public lands. While funding for the New Deal-inspired program is tied up in budget negotiations on Capitol Hill, youth activists say they hope it would help kids fresh out of high school land environmental-related jobs.
Matt Ellis-Ramirez (22), a Chicago-based volunteer for youth-led environmental activist group the Sunrise Movement, said that the Civilian Climate Corps would allow many young people to have a direct pathway to these careers.
These careers are becoming more popular among young people, regardless of whether or not they receive federal government support. Brooke Hoese is a Texas undergraduate who is pursuing a career as a restoration ecology specialist. She is currently taking an interdisciplinary approach. They spent the summer on a farm that uses regenerative agriculture to restore soil biodiversity. This helped them to earn an integrative studies degree that includes literature, philosophy, and ecology.
They say that my goal is to use philosophy and literature to study and hopefully repair the human relationship to their environment.
College campuses across the nation are looking for new ways to help students like Hoese incorporate climate studies across different disciplines. For example, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles launched the Sustainability across the CurriculumThis year, the college’s 20,000 undergraduate students were taught by the program how their majors relate to sustainability and the environment.
A 2020 USC surveyAccording to research, 64% of undergraduate students are very concerned about on-campus sustainability. 27% are also interested. They also practice what they preach: 33% report that they participate in sustainability activities on a daily basis, and 27% report weekly sustainability practices.
In the past, students were more interested in the environment and sustainability as a niche. But now, Jill Sohm (director of the Environmental Studies program at USC) says that students are also interested in sustainability. She claims that her department has seen an increase in student enrollment, especially in the last five to ten year.
Christopher Schlottmann reports similar growth as the global curriculum coordinator of New York University’s Environmental Studies program. Schlottmann believes that having an environmental degree is an asset and not a hindrance, despite the current job market being difficult for all grads.
There’s a general perception that if your work is good for the planet, no one will pay you. He adds that I don’t believe that is true. If you are able to understand the mechanisms of climate change, banks should be willing to meet with you to help them hedge their risk.
The United States Bureau of Labor StatisticsAccording to projections, employment opportunities for environmental scientists/related specialists will increase by 8% over the next ten years. This is a much faster rate than other industries. The pay ranges are significantly higher than the overall median income levels. The 2020 median salary for environmental scientists is $73,230 annually. Environmental lawyersA median annual salary of $122,960 is the average for urban farmers. Urban farmers are a career that does not require a bachelor’s degree and earn approximately $71,160 per year.
Growing up, we are told that working in the environment is impossible. Ellis-Ramirez says that there is no money in it. However, as we begin to see that the world we live isn’t sustainable and that corporations won’t make money if we lose the planet then funding will be available.
Others young people also note that many industries now incorporate environmental issues in their work, which gives young professionals the flexibility to pursue a variety career paths. Joel Hartter is the director of the University of Colorado Boulder’s new outdoor recreation economy graduate program. Sustainability is not a fringe issue. I believe that people see that they have many career options.
Gen Z’s awareness about how pollution and climate change disproportionately impact marginalized communities is growing as Gen Z pays more attention to the environment.
Brooke Majewski (23), a recent college grad, says environmental issues are not only about environmental issues but also one way to address other social issues. Brooke Majewski works for a company that helps businesses reach their sustainability goals. It’s about finding solutions to the problems that face the planet, but also for the people most affected by climate change.
Surveys show that people’s attitudes to the crisis are often influenced by their generation. A 2021 Pew ResearchReport found that Gen Z is extremely concerned about climate change. 76% of them consider it a major societal concern, while 37% consider it their top concern.
Pew reports that 32% of Gen Z respondents participated in at least one major environmental activity during the past year. This could include volunteering, donating, attending rallies, or contacting elected officials. Contrary to this, 23% and 21% of Gen X respondents reported participating in such an act during the last year.
I chose to pursue this industry because I believe I’m in the first generation to understand the severity of climate change and the last generation to be able to address it,” says Larrivee, a Boston-based environmental consultant.
This army of young people floods universities, job fairs and interview rooms with clear-eyed confidence and a strong belief in science, policy and each other, making it possible to solve the planet’s grim environmental future. Schlottman said that this enthusiasm is historical unprecedented.
He said that this isn’t a problem with a fixed solution. Their hearts and minds are in the right places, and they are very close to the right place.