Discover some of the many STEM-focused careers dealing with the environment and climate change.
It’s hard to go even a day without hearing about climate change. Preventing and adapting to climate change are two of the biggest challenges we face today. Luckily there are people around the world who are up for this challenge. They are people who are studying and looking for innovative ways to address climate-related issues. These include our demand for energy and our disposal of waste.
Are you up for the challenge?
Below are a few examples of the many careers you could consider. Listing all the possible careers related to STEM and the environment would be too long for any web page! That’s because this is such a diverse field.
“We work to inform Canadians on how climate change is affecting our environment. This includes understanding changes to vital resources such as melt water from snow and glaciers. This information is important for the health and well-being of communities and ecosystems. There is increasing demand for climate change information from public agencies, private companies, and the public. This supports the importance of our work.”
-Chris Derksen (Climate Scientist, Environment and Climate Change Canada)
Climate change refers to changes in the long-term weather patterns of the planet. The task of dealing with climate change involves a lot of different careers. Many of these careers use STEM knowledge and skills to provide solutions to the short and long-term problems of climate change. Below is a sample of some of these careers.
“I find my work with wind turbines and solar farms to be very rewarding. I help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save the environment. At work, the other engineers and I ensure that our wind turbines and solar panels are operating in the best shape. This helps them produce clean energy to power our daily lives.”
-Somto Ibe (Engineer, Renewable Energy at Enbridge)
One of the keys to solving the problem of climate change is green energy. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are a leading cause of climate change. Fossil fuels for electricity generation and for fueling vehicles create large amounts of GHGs. These emissions are a driving force in climate change. Working with nuclear and renewable energy sources will help us reduce these emissions greatly. Below are some of the people whose careers deal directly with this area.
“Pay close attention to those things that bother you, that you wished didn’t happen (like waste, for me), or you wished had a solution. See yourself as the initiator of that solution and that will become your passion. Start making a list of the things you’ll need. Start asking people around you: your friends, parents, teachers, even politicians! They all have an email. Check what others are doing somewhere else. With the internet, there are no limits. Make connections to learn from them. There are lots of business opportunities everywhere. Business ideas don’t have to be just technology; we need ideas to solve problems. And YOU have those ideas!”
Waste reduction is a major concern. Part of this means cutting down on the amount of garbage we produce. For a lot of STEM careers, though, reducing waste means making sure big projects don’t pollute the environment around them. This can mean dealing with mine tailings or monitoring ammonia levels in nearby waterways, among other things. Below are some of the people whose careers deal directly with this area.
“My career is built on values that strive to create sustainable agriculture. This means that my goal everyday is to produce products that will feed the world's growing population while maintaining and improving environmental sustainability. My career is based on maximizing technology and always thinking into the future. Working in my job contributes significantly to the food crops planted all around the world!”
-Kaleigh Gray (Research Associate and Safety Technician for Monsanto)
The population on the planet continues to grow. Feeding the world has become a bigger concern than ever before. Dealing with the effect of agriculture on the environment is the focus of many different STEM-focused careers. Below are some of the people whose careers deal directly with this area.
“Everything in research I am doing is related to the environment, ecology and climate change. These are all the issues currently in the news. They are all issues that are important to Canadians. The work I do is helping us understand the processes and the impacts of our day to day lifestyles. I look at possible impacts of things we do or don’t do. Then I share this information with the people who make decisions about how land gets used and managed.
In the North, this is very important to the indigenous people who live off the land. We need to understand what is happening to permafrost to decide how we can build infrastructure there. If we don’t then the infrastructure won’t last. My research is giving us the information and capacity to help make sure we stabilize what we do in the north.”
-Max Salman (Affiliate Researcher, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
A lot of the things we take for granted every day are based on finite resources. This means that they will eventually run out if we’re not careful. One of the challenges of our era is ensuring that we can maintain our standards of living while still maintaining the environment. Below are some of the people whose careers are in sustainability.
“Don’t feel you have to have it all figured out from the beginning. If you take steps to learn about career possibilities, your vision will widen. Keep an open mind for things that might be of interest to you and opportunities that might come your way. It’s good to work towards a goal while being open to new possibilities. If you want work that will be of service to your community or the environment, then environmental engineering might be for you!”
-Rohan Hakimi (Environmental Engineer, Integrated Water Management, Credit Valley Conservation Authority)
Water quality is an important focus for careers since it impacts all living things. How climate change impacts water quality is one aspect. Another is the increase in water pollution, including microplastic pollution. People whose careers deal with water quality will be in-demand over the next several decades. Below are some of the people whose careers deal with water and water quality.
“I find my career extremely fulfilling and rewarding. I have a passion for the environment and the ocean. If the conditions that we grow fish in aren't favourable, then the fish will not survive. This could affect millions of people because once they reach their full-size, these fish are harvested. The harvested fish go to grocery stores and restaurants. Here they feed millions of families globally each year. Aquaculture is one of the most carbon-neutral farming choices. And salmon is an extremely healthy protein option.”
Seafood feeds a lot of people across the planet everyday. This food source must be maintained sustainably. This will require both conservation and advances in aquaculture. Below are some of the careers that use STEM to ensure farmed seafood remains both sustainable and safe.
There are many options for a career in STEM and the environment. The challenges of dealing with climate change and the environment can be your challenge too! Explore the many career paths waiting for you and make a difference in the world today.