Many who are just graduating high school or are in college now, made career decisions during the Obama Administration. If your career plans somehow included the environment, green solutions or renewable energy, the new policies of the current administration might make you a little nervous. Right or wrong, the new administration has plans to increase production of fossil fuels and roll back environmental regulations. While this represents a change in policy, we remain confident that the "green" sector and "green careers" will continue to grow and thrive. A change in governmental policy does not necessarily mean a reversal in the environmentally responsible and renewable trend. Here is why:
Many industries have already re-tooled:
The concepts of being environmentally friendly and engaging in sustainable practices has been the general trend in many industries for years. Many manufacturers have already switched to more environmentally friendly materials in their manufacturing, or have cleaned up the manufacturing process to reflect a more sustainable attitude. Unless it truly reflects a huge cost cut, most industries are not very likely to revert to less sustainable manufacturing options – even if they are allowed to do so by future policy changes.
Many companies have added sustainability and environmental responsibility to their business plan, possibly even to their mission and vision statements. Likely they have made it one of their talking points as they explain to investors why they add value to their industry. It is unlikely that an organization would reverse such policies and statements, and risk a decline in public opinion and support for their business, just because current policies may be changing.
Renewable often means cheaper:
While many energy efficient changes renewable energy sources require an initial investment, they often are more efficient once those investments are made. Almost every household appliance you can buy has been manufactured to more environmentally friendly specs. At some point, these manufacturers researched and changed their practices so that their products are more energy efficient. To the environment, it means that less energy is consumed. To the consumer, it means that, since the appliances use less energy, they are cheaper to operate. One could not see a reason why a company would choose to go back to the old way of building appliances that use more energy and cost their consumers more.
Likewise, consider businesses and homes that have invested in new windows, insulation, and energy sources like solar panels. Again, after the upfront cost, these solutions reflect lower energy costs – so the upfront investment pays for itself and more in cost savings on energy. So, energy efficient building materials and alternative energy sources such as solar will continue to sell. It's not about policy, its about economics and math.
Environmental science careers have been around for several administrations and will continue to thrive.
If you are considering or are already in school for a degree that revolves around environmental science, rest assured that the environmental science industry will continue to grow over the next decades. While certainly the level of government funding fluctuates from administration to administration, the demand in this field continues to grow. There will continue to be plenty of opportunity.