Back on November 30th, when thousands of high school students across Australia joined forces to call for more action on climate change, we were cheering them on all the way. However, our politicians weren’t always as enthusiastic – maybe they were a little stung by some of those pun-tastic protest signs the students were wielding.
Our Federal Resources Minister, Matt Cavanan, even went as far to disparage the future career prospects of these passionate climate activists, saying:
“The best thing you’ll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue.”
Sorry Mr Cavanan, but we have a pretty different vision for the career prospects of today’s high school climate activists!
That’s because understanding the causes, and preventing or dealing with impacts of climate change add up to some of the biggest challenges our society is set to face – with endless career options for those wanting to make a difference. And STEM skills are going to be required in many if not all of those career paths.
So we’ve compiled a list of 5 awesome global-warming-fighting STEM careers we reckon those students – or anyone with ambitions to save the world, really – might want to pursue one day.
We can’t fight climate change without a sophisticated understanding of the climate and weather systems, so meteorology would be an obvious career choice for a climate change activist. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology is one of the country’s top STEM employers, with an annual Graduate Meteorologist Program, which requires an undergraduate or postgraduate degree majoring in physics or maths.
2. Renewable Energy Engineer
The development and use of alternative energy sources to fossil fuels will be fundamental to staving off dangerous climate change and decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions. Several universities including the Australian National University and the University of NSW offer engineering degrees majoring in renewable energy or specifically photovoltaics and solar energy.
3. Tech entrepreneur
We’re living in the age of the entrepreneur: as technology evolves at break-neck pace, opportunities to innovate and disrupt with bright new ideas are popping up all over the place. Solving climate change will require smart ideas from smart, passionate people – the kind who aren’t afraid to stand up to politicians twice their age and tell them to get their act together!
Climate change is impacting us now, but looking into the distant past could be part of the solution. Palaeo-climatologists like Monika Markowska look at climate through the ages to help us predict the effects of climate change in the future.
5. Agricultural scientist
Agriculture is one of the world’s biggest CO2 emitters, but with a growing global population – and many people going hungry – the need to come up with innovative solutions to improve sustainability and efficiency in farming is becoming more urgent than ever. And we might just know of a few passionate young people who could be up for the challenge.
Author: Gemma Chilton
Gemma has a degree in journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney and spent a semester studying environmental journalism in Denmark. She has been writing about science and engineering for over a decade.