The Environment, Employment, and Sustainable Development

By Monica Hale; Mike Lachowicz | Go to book overview

11

ENVIRONMENTAL CAREERS AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTISTS 1

Nick Jagger

One of the problems with discussing ‘environmental’ careers is that the concept is relatively new, so that the boundaries of what is and what is not an environmental career are not clear. Sometimes it seems as if the term ‘environmental’ is like a little green label attached to a type of job to make it more attractive.

Increasingly there are environmental dimensions either to what people do, or how they do it, in many types of career (Jacobs 1994) as environmental concerns (Anon 1994) and regulations increase (ECOTEC 1993a). There is also what has been termed the ‘environmental industry’ (ECOTEC 1994). Another area of interest is the ‘environmental manager’ or ‘environmental executive’ (James and Stewart 1995). This chapter will not discuss the latter types of career.

The study focused on postgraduate ‘environmental scientists’. The number of environmental scientists compared to ‘other’ environment professionals is relatively small and it is easier to define who they are. A simple way to define environmental scientists is to include those whose postgraduate training was sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The Mission Statement of NERC lists the following subject areas within their remit:

terrestrial, marine and freshwater biology and Earth, atmospheric, hydrological, oceanographic and polar sciences and Earth observation.

(NERC 1994)

This group of scientists are pursuing what school leavers probably consider ‘environmental careers’. For instance they study global warming and the ozone layer (indeed it was NERC scientists who first reported the hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic). They also study water pollution, marine life, ecology and ocean circulation.

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