Monthly Archives: November 2018

examining rocks

Climate Change Jobs: Availability, Salaries, & More

Climate change is a global concern making climate change jobs not only an interesting profession but a necessity. The Earth has grown through periods of changing climate throughout its history and at least some of this is natural. Most of you will be familiar with the various ice ages that the planet has undergone, but there have also been various warming and cooling periods. Many of you may be surprised to learn that as recently as the Middle Ages, various parts of the world had climates very different than what they have today.

In spite of the various natural changes in climate associated with the Earth and its weather, the recent changes in climate have become apparent even to lay people, causing the public to have greater interest in these changes and in the profession. What this means for people interested in climate change is that there is likely to be more investment in the industry and that means more jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, predicts an 11 percent increase in jobs in environmental science over the next year, comfortably above the national average.

What Is Climate Change?

crack soil

A discussion of climate change jobs would not be complete without a discussion of climate change. Part of this discussion will necessarily include becoming familiar with the kind of individuals that are involved in combatting climate change at all levels. This effort includes many different individuals from activists, lobbyists and fundraisers to environmental scientists and engineers. Fighting the process of unhealthy weather changes will involve a large number of people working in climate change jobs at all levels.

A 2018 Nobel Prize was given to an economist, Paul Romer, whose work at the World Bank and other institutions involved integrating technological advances into economic policy to effect changes into problems including climate change. The awarding of this prize not only underscores how significant climate change is, it also highlights that even economists can be involved in the work of addressing climate change and making suggestions regarding how governments and international organizations can address it.

So what is climate change? This term refers to the statistical change in weather patterns over an extended period of time. In other words, changes in temperature, precipitation, storms or other natural phenomena that are not brief or documented occasionally, but which represent a changed pattern. The climate change that most of you will be familiar with is the change that we associate with human activity. A large number of human activities are proposed to affect climate, including:

  • 1
    Use of fossil fuels
  • 2
    Carbon dioxide emissions from industry and other activities
  • 3
    Aerosol emissions
  • 4
    Animal husbandry
  • 5
    Deforestation

Climate change is also known as global warming, and one can glean from this list that not only are there many common activities that contribute to global warming, but there are many ways (and many professionals) that can combat this trend. What this means for people interested in working in climate change or global warming is that you have many points of entry into the field. This also means that the sort of salaries that you can expect to earn will also tend to be quite variable.

What Are Climate Change Jobs?

lava sampling

There are many climate change jobs available. Many individuals work in climate change activities even though their training or the normal scope of their work may be outside the realm of climate change. Although it is true that an economist or a hard scientist may find his work overlapping with matters of climate change, strictly speaking, these professionals would generally be considered outside the scope of climate change jobs. In general, jobs in climate change would typically include the following professionals (among others):

  • Environmental Scientists
  • Environmental Specialists
  • Environmental Analysts
  • Environmental Consultants and Advisors
  • Program Directors
  • Project Managers
  • Researchers and Research Fellows
  • Fundraisers and Fundraising Managers
  • Administrators

This is just a small subset of the types of jobs that are normally encountered in organizations working in climate change. They represent the reality that organizations involved in global warming need workers at all levels, from interns and researchers up to scientists, analysts, program directors and administrators. Climate change jobs therefore naturally encompass both the workers normally found in climate change organizations as well as individuals working in the field for the government, universities or other large bodies involved in work with large research budgets.

It should be clear that there is some degree of overlap in the work involved in climate change jobs. For example, an environmental engineer can work as a consultant, analyst, project manager or in administration. As a convenient starting point to understand climate change jobs and their trajectory, we will take a look at the work of environmental scientists and how their profession is expected to change in the United States in the near future.

Environmental scientists are scientists involved in research and data collection on environmental issues. Environmental scientists may have training in one of several different areas including environmental science, geology, hydrology, agricultural science, or other related fields. Environmental scientists may work for different types of organizations and in many different settings. In terms of education, environmental scientists have at least a bachelor’s degree although master’s degrees are common and may be required for some jobs.

Some workers in environmental science pursue higher education and training in the form of doctoral degrees or postdoctoral training programs. The typical work functions for environmental scientists include the collection and analysis of data and the regulatory work of keeping up with government standards and making sure that the organizations they work for are adherent to code.

What Is the Current Availability of Climate Change Jobs?

using the microscope

Climate change jobs are widely available all over the United States, encompassing the roles listed above. Workers in this field are engaged in all levels of work, from interns and entry-level researchers straight on up. An interesting facet of the field of climate change is that there are companies and organizations that specialize solely in this work, as well as government bodies, institutes and educational establishments that hire workers in this field.

Environmental scientists and other climate change workers can find themselves working for many different types of organizations. Although environmental scientists commonly work for government organizations, they may also work for consulting firms and other private organizations. Workers in environmental science commonly work in the laboratory setting, but they may be involved in fieldwork or other data collection activities. Their hours may be irregular with junior workers often working longer hours.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, reports that there were approximately 90,000 jobs for environmental scientists and specialists in 2017. The profession is expected to grow by 11 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is a faster rate than the projected growth in all jobs over the same time frame in the United States. The typical requirement for entry into this profession is a bachelor’s degree. Though salaries will be discussed in the next section, workers with higher levels of education, training and experience generally can expect to earn higher salaries.

In addition to education, training, and experience, other variables can impact the salary and job outlook of workers in climate change jobs. One of the important factors impacting salary and job outlook is organization. Many climate change jobs involve work for the government and some government climate change jobs in environmental science can pay well into the six-figure range.

What Are Typical Salaries for Climate Change Jobs?

walking in a sulfuric place

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for environmental scientists and specialists in 2017 was $69,400. These salaries fell within a range, with the lowest 10 percent earning less than about $41,000 and the highest 10 percent earning more than $122,510. Contrary to what some might expect, jobs for the federal government tend to pay higher than average, which we touched on earlier. The median wage for environmental scientists and specialist working or the government was $101,400.

Earnings for environmental scientists and specialists compared well to workers in other, related occupations according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. They earned slightly less than physical scientists, who had a median wage of about $78,000 in 2017. The BLS predicts that there will be an increase of nearly 10,000 jobs in this field between 2016 and 2026, which may positively impact salaries as interest in this area of international concern grows.

Conclusion

Workers in climate change jobs have the satisfaction of knowing they are not only satisfying their own interests in this exciting area of work and study but also addressing a serious world problem. Climate change is irreversible and various government organizations and other bodies have risen to the challenge of coming up with solutions to an ever-growing problem. What this means for prospective workers in climate change jobs is that they can expect a relatively high and stable salary in government work, and a prospected job growth that will exceed the national average over the next ten years.

car and windmill on the back

Is a Wind Powered Car an Actual Possibility?

In the relatively short history of the automobile, gas powered cars have dominated the market. The wind powered car, the solar powered car, and others have not been as successful. The internal combustion engine was invented during the industrial revolution and, since then, we’ve been using it to power lots and lots of things that keep our society going. However, what we didn’t realize when we were inventing the combustion engine over 100 years ago is that burning gasoline, which comes from fossil fuels, creates a lot harmful emissions. There is a lot of debate over the effect of emissions on the environment, but a significant percentage of scientists agree that we are polluting our air and our water by burning the amount of fossil fuels that we are burning. We may also be causing our planet to heat up, which could upset the balance of our climate. If the earth’s climate were to shift even slightly, large portions of the planet may suddenly become uninhabitable for humans. This would, understandably, be devastating.

car near the beach

Another issue we have with using cars powered by gasoline is that fossil fuels are a finite resource. We don’t have infinite oil. At some point, we are going to run out, because we are using the resource faster than we can replace it. Our society is very dependent on cars for transportation, and many modes of public transportation also currently use gasoline for power. In order to meet the growing need for transportation, we will have to find alternative means of power. We need to find ways to make things “go” that don’t use finite, non-renewable resources. This means, it’s time for us to turn to renewable resources. It’s time for us to seriously consider the wind powered car.

What Is Wind Power?

Wind power is the process of creating electricity, or powering a car, using the air flow that occurs naturally in the earth’s atmosphere. Generally, wind turbines are used to harness kinetic energy from the wind and generate power. In the wind powered car, the turbines are smaller and built into the body of the car. There are 3 types of wind energy:

Offshore Wind

turbine till

This type of wind power uses very large turbines that are placed offshore, near the continental shelf. Because they are large and far out at sea, they can generate a lot of power.

Utility-Scale Wind

Utility-Scale Wind

This uses turbines that can generate 100 kilowatts to megawatts of power. These turbines are generally used to create power for electric utilities.

Distributed or “Small” Wind

windmill

This type uses small turbines to directly power a home or a small business. They are not part of a grid.

How Does It Work?

When wind moves turbines, the blades capture kinetic energy. The action of turning the blades turns that kinetic energy into mechanical energy. The rotating blades turn a shaft connect to a gearbox. The gearbox spins a generator to make electricity.

What Does a Turbine Look Like?

pinwheel

Turbines are generally at least 250 feet tall and attached to a steel tower. A hub holds 3 blades, and the “nacelle” holds the shaft, the gearbox, the generator, and the controls. The turbines measure the wind and turn themselves into the strongest wind. The blades are pitched to capture the most energy.

How Much Wind Does It Need?

Typically, the wind must be blowing at least 6 to 9 miles per hour to generate power. If the wind speed increases above 55 miles per hour, the turbines will shut down.

How Much Power Is Produced?

In a year, a wind turbine will generally produce power about 90 percent of the time. The faster the wind, the greater the production. Production from turbines is measured in a “Capacity Factor.” If a turbine has the ability to produce 18,000 megawatt-hours, but the wind only blew hard enough to produce 8,000 megawatt-hours, then the capacity factor is 45 percent. Generally, wind farms have capacity factors higher than 40 percent and are on par with coal or natural gas plants.

Windmills vs. Wind Turbines

house and turbine

A windmill and a wind turbine are not the same thing. A windmill uses the wind to produce mechanical energy to do a specific job, like grind grain. A wind turbine turns the mechanical energy into electricity.

What Is a Wind Farm?

wind farm

A wind farm is a large group of turbines built together to generate electricity for a power plant.

How Is Wind Energy Distributed?

Once the energy is generated, it heads to the power plant and is sent to consumers as electricity in the same way as any other type of energy.

Would a Wind Powered Car Work?

Wind powered cars have already been designed and tested, and they do work. Generally, turbines are built into the outside of the car and use vents to channel air toward the turbines. Most wind powered cars also need another power source for startup and to provide longer drive times. To stay environmentally friendly, most use solar power as the alternate energy source. Some use electricity and need to be recharged at home or at a charging station. These are the pros and cons of a wind powered car:

Pros

  • Very clean energy
  • Wind is sustainable
  • Wind is free

Cons

  • Wind is unpredictable
  • Aesthetics (doesn’t always look good)
  • Might be expensive up front

The other problems with wind powered cars at this point are making them go fast enough for the highway and making sure they provide enough hours of drive time. For perpetual use, you would need a relatively sunny environment to keep the solar panels charging and enough wind to drive the turbines when in motion. There are still some design kinks to work out, as well as the need to bring the costs down. As with any new technology, the startup costs can sometimes be prohibitive. However, for the future of the planet we’re going to leave our children, we need to find solutions to these problems. As we find better ways to answer these questions, wind powered cars are definitely an option for the future.

Current Designs of Wind Powered Cars

There are a few wind powered cars on the market right now. They are not widely sold or used, but they are demonstrating great strides in technology. Here are a few examples of what’s out there in wind powered cars.

Toyota Mirai

toyota car

“Mirai” means “future” in Japanese. It is currently one of only 28 fuel cell cars on the road in the UK. Its hydrogen cells are generated by the wind power. This model is capable of 37 miles per gallon and can go about 340 miles once fully charged.

The Ventomobile

This wind powered car was built in 2008 by German students. It had a wind turbine on top and ran on 3 wheels. It isn’t very fast, but it was the first truly wind powered car.

Lotus Nemesis

Some argue that this is actually the first wind powered car. It’s a hybrid that also uses electric power. The turbine is outside the car for better results. While in motion, the turbine charges the battery, thereby producing its own electricity. This was the first vehicle to place the turbine on the outside of the vehicle. The car is the creation of Tang Zhengping, who wanted to try and reduce the emissions in China, his native country. The car can reach 90 mph and the batteries need to be recharged every 2-3 days.

Formula Zero

This is a wind powered car with 4 electric motors. Its purpose is to making racing not just about speed, but about energy efficiency and utilizing natural resources. It’s quoted to have, “The thrill of Formula One, the track dynamics of the bobsled or luge, and the grace and efficiency of yacht racing.”

Conclusion

At the rate we are using our natural resources like coal and oil, it is imperative that we find alternative fuel sources over the next century. One very viable energy source is wind power, and wind powered cars. We need transportation. We live in a global economy, and we need to be able to travel. Our goal should be to make that travel easy on the environment and our wallets. Putting funds into research for better wind powered cars is an excellent step in this direction. With a little more work, wind powered cars could be one of the future methods of transportation. Or, we may see more and more vehicles that combine wind and solar power. We will have to change our expectations slightly, as clean energy cars don’t have the same sound and feel as gasoline powered cars. We have a lot of memories and nostalgia mixed in with how we feel about our cars, especially as Americans. And we should preserve that history. The era of gasoline powered vehicles was an important step in our industrial history. However, we have to move on to more sustainable ways of getting around. By embracing wind powered cars, even with their differences, we will make a huge difference in the future of our planet.

a man besides the windmill

How Green Technologies Could Lead The Way To World-Wide Economic Prosperity

Environmental sustainability is often pitted against economic prosperity by mainstream economists and politicians without realizing that these two go hand in hand. However, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who invest in green technology have long recognized that these two entities are highly complementing rather than competing.

In the past, pollution and environmental destruction were seen as an inevitable byproduct of economic prosperity. And even up to this day, the government and economists measure national wellbeing using a highly limited set of indicators that include economy, crime, education, job security, social cohesion, etc.

However, recent surveys have shown that aside from economic prosperity, a growing number of people are also concerned about the natural environment, particularly relating to the natural resources for the wellbeing of their future generations.

In a nutshell, green technology aims to mitigate or reverse the environmental impact of human activities through sustainable and eco-friendly production process or supply chain. While it often alludes to energy production that is less harmful to the environment than more traditional methods, it encompasses a myriad of inventions and innovations that address safety and health concerns, diminishing resources, looming pollution, and food and water scarcity.

Is There a Need for Green Technology?

Green technology offers valuable gifts: economic prosperity, equitable wealth distribution, job creation, a solution to the looming energy crisis and climate change, among others.

While green technology is a relatively young market, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and investors bet on its potential amidst the looming energy crisis, widespread pollution, and continuous depletion of many natural resources.

Here is the list of crises that green technology can solve or at least mitigate.

Energy Crisis

gas pump

Image Credit via Pixabay

Economic prosperity is closely tied to having reliable and sustainable energy sources. Unfortunately, most countries still rely on fossil fuels such as gas, oil, and coal, which are all finite sources; generating power through these fuels is also one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

According to studies, the earth will run out of fossil fuels in 2088. Hence, it is imperative to address this looming problem, especially with the fact that industrialized countries obtain more than 95 percent of their energy from this finite source.

Green technology and renewable energy sources will not just solve the energy crisis, which is exacerbated by the steady increase in the world’s population and the growing demand for fuels, but will also help to reduce greenhouse gas emission and eventually avoid catastrophic climate change.

Job Insecurity

Green technology and policies that promote this market help to foster economic prosperity through the generation of “decent” jobs, which offer safer working conditions, more security, better wages, and better career prospects than “brown” jobs in polluting industries.

Studies have also suggested that mitigating climate change and pollution inevitably create high-quality employment.

Looming Poverty

Climate change and the depletion and destruction of finite natural resources can exacerbate poverty. This may sound like a paradox as they are seen as the ill effects but inescapable results of economic prosperity and growth.

children

Image Credit via Pixabay

But there is nothing contradictory with the above-mentioned statement. Economic prosperity might be possible amidst widespread poverty due to inequitable wealth distribution. The government and traditional economists and educators further downplay the impact of the environmental condition on national wellbeing by focusing too much on indicators related to job, money, health, and education.

But with green technology whose aim is to address ecosystem degradation, pollution, natural resource depletion, and energy crisis, the poor may have a fighting chance to improve their condition. After all, they are the most affected stakeholder because they often live in the most fragile areas and have limited resources.

Furthermore, eradicating or at least mitigating the ill effects of human activities on the environment is the key to achieve and sustain economic prosperity that will reach the whole population.

Widespread Pollution

Pollution not just threatens our water and food sources, it also compromises the well-being of people and their future generation’s health and food security. Hence, one of the focal points of green technology is recycling, which mitigates the depletion of the natural resources.

smoke from the power plant

Image Credit via Pixabay

And with more sophisticated recycling techniques, it has now become possible to construct houses and buildings that are mostly made of recycled materials. To further reduce environmental impact, scientists and engineers are creating new home, office, and building designs and features that reduce energy consumption.

Consumer and industrial products are also a great contributor to water and air pollution, according to a recent survey. This could change with green technology that aims to search and create products whose contents and production processes have a minimal impact on the environment.

With the benefits mentioned above of green technology, anyone may easily surmise that it is closely tied to sustained economic prosperity.

How Can It Aid Economic Prosperity?

clean river and ducks

Image Credit via Pixabay

Economic prosperity, in the traditional sense, is the state of wealth and quality of life. In any country, the way to increase wealth and living standards is to promote and sustain entrepreneurship, innovation, and competition. However, this might be an outdated definition as more people believe that the environmental condition—i.e., access to green spaces, clean air and water, and ecological preservation for future generations—should also matter when measuring the national well-being.

Simply put, the natural environment should be included on the list of indicators of economic prosperity and national wellbeing if the government and economists truly want to “measure what matters most.”

Read on the list that explains how green technology can foster economic prosperity.

  • There is a market for clean technology. Due to the looming energy crisis, climate change, and diminishing natural resources, there is no other choice but to shift to this market that is worth around US$1.35 trillion annually.
  • Green technology and its recent innovations are stimulating demand for sustainably sourced goods and eco-friendly services.
  • It also enhances productivity. By using natural resources efficiently and sustainably, green technology is the key to long-term economic prosperity in which the gist is to allocate the resources to the highest value of use. At the same time, this market is drastically reducing waste and energy consumption.
  • Green technology can solve or at least improve resource bottlenecks, which are the biggest threat to long-term economic prosperity. Moreover, it reduces environmental impact and thus secures our and our future generation’s food source.
  • Boosts investor confidence in a country. Savvy entrepreneurs and investors know that most of our products and services derived from finite sources, some of which are already ruined or depleted. Fortunately, green technology has proven itself as a lucrative market, especially now that a growing number of consumers are demanding for greener products. Consumers are increasingly becoming more aware of the great strain on the natural sources, and so there is a growing preference for less polluting, safer, and healthier products and services.
  • Green technology contributes to fiscal consolidations. It may sound ironic, but a great number of highly polluting industries receive government subsidies. One good example is the

Conclusion

Despite the seemingly boundless opportunity with green technology and its auspicious impact on economic prosperity, it remains indispensable to tailor it to the specific community circumstances. Hence, the people should be made aware that every effort to reduce carbon footprint has a direct and indirect effect on their livelihood, the quality of their life, and their progeny’s well-being or even their survival.

Meanwhile, clean and green technology applies to multiple sectors, and so its impact on economic prosperity and growth is something that can’t be easily ignored. Sectors such as agriculture, energy industry, transportation, manufacturing, and building are arguably the best targets because they are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

The sectors mentioned above are great recipients of green technology because of the recent innovations in recycling and process technology, and also better access to new information and sustainably sourced materials.

However, companies that aim to adopt green technologies face barriers such as lack of information, lack of human resources and skills, lack of or inability to access alternative raw materials and chemicals, expensive process technology, among others. Consequently, the only way to pave the way for tangible economic prosperity—i.e., poverty reduction and a more fair distribution of wealth—is to identify and eliminate these obstacles.

rocky forest path

Image Credit via Pixabay

But as a relatively new market, green technology stakeholders, the private sector, government, and NGOs have yet to create an all-encompassing process that will remove the obstacles mentioned above that deter large-scale dissemination of eco-friendly products, services, and processes.

Widespread dissemination of green technology is critical to developing countries, which are experiencing their initial phase of economic prosperity and growth that is closely tied to substantial environmental impact. During this period, they exploit local or sometimes even the global natural resources to feed the so-called progress. Failure to intervene during this most critical phase can threaten the world’s biodiversity and the very survival of humanity.