January 27, 2021

NBC News reported that President Biden is set to deliver remarks Wednesday on his plan to tackle climate change and sign related executive actions to further this key part of his agenda.  Wednesday’s executive orders “will focus on elevating climate change to a national security priority, directing the federal government to conserve about 30 percent of all federal land and water by 2030 and suspending new leases for natural gas and oil development on federal lands and waters.”  These orders will create a climate commission focused on environmental justice and green jobs.  Many of Biden’s orders are designed to undo the orders signed and policies of our last administration.  The focus has shifted from making money to making a sustainable world.

When I attended my undergraduate college, the hot degree was ecology.  I was a science buff and had dreams of entering the field (sadly, 15 credits of chemistry killed my plans) that is now central to Sustainability.   After two years of coursework, I was enthralled by the thought of studying the gray wolves who followed the caribou in norther Canada.  It was over a decade later before another researcher finally fulfilled my dream.  I watched a Nature documentary in the 1990’s in fascination as a researcher filmed the habits and hunting techniques of pack behavior.  As research has grown, we have confirmed gray wolves rarely attack humans.  Their intimidating howls and pack behavior have still been written into the storylines of numerous movies.  Today’s wolf research is on reintroduction of wolves (Yellowstone) and making populations sustainable.

Sustainability is the new buss word for large corporations and the hot new degree in the environmental and business fields.  When I looked these degrees up online, I found that over 400 colleges in the US offer bachelor’s degrees, over 460 offer master’s degrees, over 100 offer doctor’s degrees, and more than 130 offer a certificate in Sustainability.  Sustainability combines economics, business, social/human environment, and environmental science.  The goal is to find a balanced approach that minimizes risks to these areas to maintain or enhance the quality of life in the future.  This is an attempt to minimize and mitigate the environmental impact caused by humans.  

Thoughts:  When the government abandoned climate research and discounted racial injustice, corporate America countered with its own call to create sustainability.  Amazon is just one example with a pledge to produce a net zero carbon footprint across the business by 2040.  This is ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement that the current President re-entered.  While some decry the loss of carbon industry jobs, others are excited by the possibility of new green jobs and infrastructure.  Retraining and repositioning workers has been a hallmark of human evolution.  I do not hear many still denouncing the loss of flintknapper jobs as the metal ages occurred.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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