by ALYSSA SPENCER
According to UMW environmental science professors, President Biden’s environmental policy will open doors for graduates of the major.
On February 19, Biden officially joined the United States in the Paris Climate Agreement, an international agreement dedicated to preventing the effects of climate change. This act, combined with the promises he made to tackle climate change and environmental injustice, is arousing enthusiasm and new hope among many environmental science students and their professors at the University of Mary Washington.
Professor John Tippett, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, believes Biden and his plans would indeed help create new jobs for his students.
âBiden has a much stronger environmental program that will open up more jobs in the field,â he said.
Professor Tippett said the past four years under the Trump administration have had an impact on those already pursuing careers in environmental science. He cited the Environmental Protection Agency, which saw nearly 1,600 employees leave the organization in the first 18 months of President Trump’s tenure, as an example of a workplace that will potentially create new opportunities for graduates.
“The previous administration was so blatantly hostile to the role of science, and particularly to environmental regulation, that many professional scientists have left environmental agencies in recent years,” Tippett said. âWhat you will probably see is that many mid-level and senior positions will favor [employees] in these positions, which frees up more entry-level opportunities.
Tippett said this trend should bring graduates into good standing in the years to come.
Melanie Szulczewski, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, said a common misconception related to building a greener future is that jobs will be lost, when in fact it has been demonstrated that the shift to the new industry creates jobs.
“Some like to promote the idea that helping the environment means harming the economy and killing jobs, and while it is true that some jobs will disappear like those in the coal industry, others will be created,” he said. Szulczewski said. âMoreover, Biden himself has asserted that, because sustainability is so closely linked to social justice, he will seek solutions such as earning a living wage, encouraging vocational training, etc.
Many industries that aim to curb climate change or promote greener energy and policies have been negatively affected in recent years, but Tippett and Szulczewski believe they are on the rise again.
âClimate-related jobs, renewable energy and jobs involving innovative methods of carbon sequestration hold the most promise,â Tippett said. âA lot of private sector work is underway, such as consultants helping local governments develop renewable energy plans, or private companies creating markets for carbon sequestration so that companies can contribute to a fund and can remove their carbon dioxide. All of these innovative things are happening in the private sector right now, which will go hand in hand with the fact that the government will play a bigger role on the environment. ”
Szulczewski believes that the most significant growth will be seen in the renewable energy sector.
âEnergy is something we need in our daily life. We need it to go to work or school, to supply our homes and even to have clean water. The transition to renewables is not an easy task, but it is the most expensive comparable sector today. “
Tippett agrees, saying economics and politics create a lot of momentum in the green energy industry. âWe see the general trend towards renewables because coal is no longer cost competitive, which makes renewables more economically viable. So it’s purely economic, but now we have an administration that encourages all of these actions. ”
Lydia Samson, a major in environmental science, believes job opportunities in environmental science will increase, but not because of Biden. “The number of opportunities will come from general needs as the climate crisis worsens, not necessarily because of federal pressure for more jobs in environmental science,” she said. declared.
Samson has ambitions to become an environmental lawyer and is optimistic that her work will perform well in the years to come.
âI am planning to go to law school this fall and have high hopes for employment opportunities after graduation as I have been told that environmental law is currently the top priority. fastest growing sub-area of ââlegal practice. “
Szulczewski has high hopes for the next promotion – more hope now than in the last 13 years she worked at UMW.
âThere has never been so much momentum and reason to believe that we are actually going to see change. The fact that we’ve seen improvements even over the past four years means that now it’s going to be exponentially better. There is no better time to hope, get out there, start working, and literally save the planet. “