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Why We Need More Environmental Engineers to Fight Climate Change

How Environmental Engineers Can Help Fight Climate Change

By andrewdeen14Published 2 years ago 3 min read
Why We Need More Environmental Engineers to Fight Climate Change
Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

For years, the Middle East has been in the grip of deadly heat waves. States like California and even Colorado have experienced record-breaking wildfires, all the direct result of unnaturally dry conditions that allow embers to swell into roaring fires that grow by the acre.

The problem? Human-caused climate change. As scientists all over the world scramble for a long-term solution, communities are already suffering. Environmental engineers may be able to provide a solution, offering practical fixes to environmental-related issues.

In this article, we take a look at what environmental engineers do, and how they can help fight climate change.

The Situation

Human-caused climate change has led to the hottest decade the world has seen in 125,000 years. Annually, the Earth sheds 1.2 trillion tons of ice. If these trends continue, there will be serious consequences, both for the habitability of many coastal parts of the planet and for things like food production and wildlife preservation.

While these things have been on the radar of scientists for decades, the timeline for action has become decidedly more urgent. As governments and businesses make a commitment toward carbon neutrality, many experts continue to worry that our window of opportunity is very small, and our resources for seizing upon it are limited.

Currently, the planet is on track to experience average temperature rises of 4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Should this happen, the arctic ocean will be free of ice for the first time in millions of years. Not only will this be destructive to the local ecosystem, but it will cause sea levels to rise by fifteen feet or more.

For coastal communities — including New York and California, this will make habitability impossible. Millions of people will be forced to relocate inland. Water reservoirs would decrease. Greenhouse gas emissions would increase — furthering the problem. Food production would become difficult, and nations may need to compete for resources like water.

All of this is to say that the need for environmental engineers has never been higher.

What Do Environmental Engineers Do?

Environmental engineers take the principles of engineering and they apply them to fighting climate change. For example, an environmental engineer may optimize a recycling strategy, or calibrate a waste management system to make it both more effective and eco-friendly.

Because the job is highly relative to the needs of the community the engineer is serving, environmental engineers may find that their responsibilities and activities change considerably on a daily basis.

Daily Responsibilities

The responsibilities of environmental engineers are usually specific to a certain area. They will come into a community, work on identifying threats, and then come up with a solution to reverse them. In addition to making out plans for new structures, they may also monitor the workplace conditions of various factories and industrial locations to make sure best practices are being followed. Where they are not, the environmental engineer might make suggestions that favor sustainability and safety.

Where Do Environmental Engineers Work?

While climate change is a worldwide problem, not every community has experienced its effects acutely enough to seek the services of an environmental engineer. Typically, engineers will travel for their work, going to communities with the highest need.

There, they will operate primarily out of an office, while also collecting samples, and traveling to industrial locations to monitor the conditions.

How to Become an Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers usually have at least a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. While this will technically qualify them for entry-level work, the engineer job candidates can improve their marketability and their eventual salary considerably by getting an advanced degree.


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