“In a few decades, the relationship between the environment, resources, and conflict may seem almost as obvious as the connection we see today between human rights, democracy, and peace.” – Wangari Maathai, environmental activist
Last year, more than 769,000 people were employed in the renewable energy sector in the U.S. alone, significantly overshadowing the 187,000 working in the oil and gas industry, and the 68,000 employed in coal and mining, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
When we consider that jobs within the field of solar and wind energy also swelled by more than 20 percent in 2015, while faltering prices in the fossil fuel business saw employment decline by 18 percent, we start to observe a shift taking place in the universal mentality.
According to the same report, the thriving U.S. environmental sector paved the way for a global surge in the renewable energy industry, which last year employed more than 8 million people – a five percent increase in figures from the previous year.
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In addition to this, IRENA administered a second global estimate into hydropower employment, concluding that the field directly employed 1.3 million people in 2015.
“The continued job growth in the [global] renewable energy sector is significant because it stands in contrast to trends across the energy sector,” Adam Amin, IRENA’s director general, told The Guardian, citing fast-declining costs of renewable energy sources as the force behind the growth.
Due to a number of recently implemented strategies and global climate change deals, as well as the prospect of renewable energy becoming increasingly competitive, Amin forecasts this as a trend that’s unlikely to wane any time soon.
“Even without a price on carbon, renewable energy is competing with dirty energy and winning,” Ben Schreiber, Climate and Energy Programme Director at Friends of the Earth, told reporters at The Guardian.
“The question isn’t whether renewable energy supplants fossil fuels, but whether fossil fuel companies can delay the transition long enough to destroy the climate,” Schreiber concludes.
Enter the international Environmental School, charged with providing world-class interdisciplinary research to address the ominous challenge of climate change, with the aim of working towards a future that’s globally sustainable.
The University of Exeter, for example, is investing £80 million in five separate science themes, one of them being Climate Change and Sustainable Futures, appointing 14 academics in a variety of disciplines who work under the guidance of Exeter’s Professor Peter Cox.
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“Visualising what’s actually happening on the planet, we’ve got so much data now, it helps us to work out what the interactions are, what the processes are, and if we can work out the processes then we can potentially predict them,” Professor Cox said.
“Basically what we’re trying to do is to give people, policy-makers and members of the public the information they need [for] … adaptation and mitigation,” he adds.
“The mitigation problem is about how do you change the way we generate our energy, how we do transportation, [while] the adaptation problem, really, is about what do you do in the face of inevitable climate change. So, large problems, like how big should the Thames barrier be, clearly have major financial implications, but also what sort of crops should farmers be growing as the southeast of England gets drier and hotter.
“All of those problems require that we do better predictions,” Professor Cox concludes.
With all these things considered, the universal rise of the environmental sector is unlikely to slow down anytime soon, making now the perfect time to build on your knowledge with a cutting-edge degree in Environmental Science.
Here are 5 world-renowned institutions that provide a stellar education in the field of Environmental Science:
The College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Exeter perfectly combines the study of five popular disciplines: Biosciences, Geography and Natural Sciences, as well as the less environmentally-focused Psychology, and Sport and Health Sciences. All courses are academically rigorous and expertly delivered, providing students from all walks of life with a transformative learning experience.
The College is dedicated to producing powerful research that poses a positive impact on the wider world. Its research is diverse and frequently interdisciplinary in nature, informing what is ultimately research-led instruction, with lecture examples drawn straight from the professional field.
Image courtesy of The College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Exeter
The College is renowned for its high-quality student support services, inclusive atmosphere and overall student experience, consistently achieving outstanding levels of student satisfaction in the National Student Survey. Another thing the University is known for is its superior employment services, which helps connect recent graduates with employers on a global scale.
Exeter also boasts fantastic Environmental field courses, work placements, study abroad opportunities and internships, helping the College attract students from all four corners of the globe. One provision catering specifically to students of Environmental Science is the Green Steps Sustainability Programme in conjunction with Monash University in Australia, which trains students to offer business a bespoke junior consultancy service. Exeter also hosts a wealth of student societies focusing on specialisms that are directly-related to this College’s programmes, such as Wildlife Film-Making, for example.
The Faculty of Environment at the University of Leeds is recognised for its ability to respond to a wide range of global challenges, with more than 400 staff actively pursuing research projects across a wide range of topics, including: Earth Sciences, Environmental Science and Sustainability, Human and Physical Geography, and Transport Planning.
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The faculty’s integrated curriculum provides students with the invaluable opportunity to work alongside expert research leaders, allowing them to develop the knowledge required by future policy-makers, industry leaders and informed global citizens.
The University of Lancaster has always pioneered the realm of scientific research, breaking through the boundaries of environmental academia.
Lancaster represents one of the first universities in the world to establish a Department of Environmental Science, as well as the first university to offer Ecology as a fully-accredited degree programme.
In 2007, the University introduced Geography, Environmental Sciences and Biological Sciences to create the Lancaster Environment Centre, knowing that together it could become a leader in the field. The ultimate vision is to break down societal and national boundaries to address major environmental issues facing the world today.
The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Cardiff University provides sought-after and accredited degrees, offering students a research-led teaching experience across the varied disciplines of Earth and Ocean Science.
The school enjoys strong ties to a wealth of industry sponsors. From geotechnical and marine surveying firms to oil and gas companies, industry sponsors help support the school’s research, as well as its undergraduate placement offerings and its taught postgraduate degree programme.
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The school’s excellent facilities are available to support all students’ study, which includes dedicated IT labs, state-of-the-art analytical equipment, and its own research vessel.
The School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow boasts two very successful undergraduate programmes, Geography and Earth Science. Both are ranked in the UK’s Top 10 according to the Complete University Guide, and the Guardian University Guide.
The school has outstanding scores in the National Student Survey, which is completed by its final year students, and staff have won many university awards for teaching. These and other measures demonstrate just how committed Glasgow’s staff are to teaching, as well as to ensuring students maximise the opportunity to learn, grow, and develop in their time at university.