K-2 Chapter 4: It's Easy Being Green!
Background Art by Ely Astorga for ArtistsForClimate.org
The Future of Careers in Climate Change: The Green Economy & Climate Opportunities
The environmental impacts of climate change have a direct effect on the working world. Many jobs that rely on ecosystem services, and therefore also on sustainable environmental management (e.g., farming, fishing, forestry, air and water purification, soil fertilization, etc.) are immediately threatened by climate change as it deteriorates these natural ecosystems and processes. As well, the rising temperatures are increasing the risks and hazards associated with labour-intensive work. These risks being felt in many sectors of work can be contrasted with a progressive shift to a green economy in many other sectors around the world. Green industries have grown exponentially over the past decades, and according to an InfoDev report in 2014, green industries have evolved from “a niche 1970s environmental aspiration into a competitive force motivating many of the world’s most progressive business planners and boardroom strategists”.
According to National Geographic, the top eleven growing green jobs include: urban growers, water quality technicians, clean car engineers, recyclers, natural scientists (measuring and monitoring our impacts on the world around us), green builders (including those using ecologically friendly materials), solar cell technicians, green design professionals, wave energy production workers, wind energy workers, and biofuel jobs (increasing, constructing, and producing renewable fuel). In many ways, it is productive and beneficial for students to conceptualize economic changes in the context of the many emerging careers and climate opportunities that accompany these changes. Throughout the upcoming years, there will be an increasing demand for skilled professionals in not only the green jobs mentioned by National Geographic, but also in sectors like urban planning, health care, architecture and information technology just to name a few. By educating and informing students on the subject of green careers, green energy and the green economy, possibly sparking interest in these fields, students will enter the workforce more prepared and more capable of being successful in an economy and workforce that will likely look very different from how it does now.
Climate change is a current reality, but the future remains to be determined by the actions that we take now to stop the impacts from intensifying. The current economic impacts exist and are a part of a much larger interconnected story involving the environment, health, racism, cultural dimensions, infrastructure, etc. There is an inevitable level of uncertainty that accompanies any climate forecasting; however, there are concrete adaptation measures that can help prevent job losses and negative effects on workers and income. Governments and citizens can contribute to economic protection measures against climate change by investing in infrastructure, the conservation of treatment water, reforestation, moving to a new energy future (renewables) and skills development to help displaced workers transition to relevant, growing professions.
This chapter offers 3 different structured and scaffolded inquiries to support ideas associated with “It is easy to be green!” Each of the 3 inquiries begin with a provocation followed by numerous strategies and examples. These explorations can be completed in their entirety as stated, however, because we know inquiry is an organic and fluid process based on student input, educators may wish to take parts of each of the 3 ideas presented and even adapt, modify or replace what’s suggested to create their own inquiry with their class. It is therefore suggested that teachers review the whole chapter first in order to determine and plan what works best with their particular group of learners.