It’s time to integrate environmental education

There’s no better time to take up environmental-related studies as a career option than now.

There’s no better time to take up environmental-related studies as a career option than now.

Climate change, proclaimed David Attenborough, is “the greatest security threat modern humans have ever faced”. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC [AR6 Report] reveals that the increase in global average temperature caused by human activities is unprecedented for at least 2000 years. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022 also issues a similar warning and identifies five of the 10 most serious risks over the next 10 years when it comes to the environment. India is said to be highly vulnerable to extreme weather events and already experiences severe and recurrent floods, cyclones and droughts. The AR6 report notes in this context that the impact of climate change on humans will only increase if the current status quo continues.

Urgency to respond

The urgency with which humans must now respond to these challenges has had an impact in every conceivable area. Globally, almost all countries have agreed to continue efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels through the Paris Agreement. They engage in increasingly ambitious measures to combat the effects of climate change, in the form of Nationally Determined Contributions. Global financial institutions are increasingly coming together to embed sustainability into their operations. Large companies are increasingly called upon to disclose the impact of their activities on the climate and nature, as well as to report on how their operations would be affected. There is also more emphasis on reforestation, strengthening ecosystems and wildlife conservation.

All of this suggests that existing conventional practices for dealing with environmental problems are bound to undergo massive reforms in the direction of ecosystem resilience and sustainability. This will lead to a demand for specialists in the field of environment and climate change.

Thus, there is no better time to take up environmental-related studies as a career option than now. With increasing pressure on world leaders, businesses and individuals to ensure the sustainability of their actions, there has never been more need for environmental awareness and know-how.

Take the energy sector, for example. With the transition to renewable and low-carbon energy sources comes jobs whose demands require knowledge of the environmental impacts of these technologies. The investments needed to finance this transition are transforming the practices of banks, institutional investors and insurance-reinsurance companies, whose managers will now increasingly have to take into account the physical and transitory risks linked to climate change. The ambitions of many developing and underdeveloped countries to attract investment to spur economic growth will increase the demand for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) specialists, environmental advocates and GIS technicians who will ensure that this growth is sustainable. This is especially relevant in a country like India which aspires to become a $5 trillion economy in the near future. Therefore, if there is one specific know-how that will be in demand for the years to come, it is that related to the environment and climate change.

Domain knowledge

Yet job prospects are not the only reason sustainability studies should be undertaken. If necessity is the mother of invention, humanity now needs solutions to respond to various environmental changes. However, inventions cannot be made without knowledge of the environmental field or at least an awareness of the impending crisis and its impacts. There is a growing need for green entrepreneurs who can meet human needs in less harmful and socially useful ways and knowledge of skills related to environment and climate change will only help them in their endeavors.

Gone are the days of a father worrying about his son pursuing a career in wildlife photography. The global scenario has changed rapidly and the demand for professionals with knowledge and specialization in environmental and climate change studies is increasing. A career in the environment not only has great prospects in monetary terms, but also comes with the added satisfaction of helping to save mankind. Our planet can no longer afford humans with little awareness of environmental issues, we need well-studied professionals to deal with emerging challenges and those who can provide solutions to problems.

The author is Advisor, Center for Environmental Law, WWF India.

A monthly column from WWF India

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