Wondering what you want to be when you grow up? How about saving the world from one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced yet? Read on for ideas about how you can use your STEM career to fight global warming
Understanding the causes, and preventing or dealing with the impacts of climate change make up some of the biggest challenges our society is set to face – with endless exciting STEM career options available to those wanting to make a difference.
With the release of the latest IPCC report painting a pretty gloomy picture of what the world could look like in the future if we stick to business as usual, we’ve compiled a list of 7 awesome global-warming-fighting STEM careers that will get you inspired to forge a planet-saving career path.
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.
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The ocean plays a fundamental role in mitigating climate change by acting as a heat and carbon ‘sink’, but it also bears the brunt of climate change – think sea level rise, coral bleaching and marine ecosystem collapse. There are many different specialities within the field of oceanography, but if a climate change-fighting career is on your radar, you might find yourself focussed on ocean processes that affect climate, such as La Nina and El Nino, or researching topics such as ocean carbon and nutrient cycles.
7. Conservation scientist
Conserving Earth’s biodiversity is essential for keeping the ecosystems on which we all rely thriving. In 2021, the Amazon Rainforest – sometimes referred to as the “lungs of the Earth” – started for the first time ever to emit more carbon dioxide than it absorbed, due to fires and land clearing. To fight climate change, we need experts who will dedicate their career to conserving what we already have, whether it be rainforests, endangered species or threatened ecosystems.
Author: Gemma Chilton
Gemma is the Managing Editor of Careers with STEM magazine. She has previously worked as Digital Managing Editor at Australian Geographic and a staff writer at Cosmos science magazine.