Let me start by saying thank you to anybody who actually held out on new content being posted to this blog over the past several weeks, for you harbor some commendable confidence in me and this site, an attribute I doubt the majority of people who stumbled across ‘A Green Degree’ left with, but it was not in vein, I promise you that; I’m back after a massively busy few weeks moving into London and starting my masters at Imperial College, and now it is long overdue that I update my little side project with some real bloody content!
However, this isn’t going to be like the majority of my posts on here, which follow the rule of thumb of collecting stories or articles on news events and forehead-slapping moments in the world of sustainability, putting what I like to think as my personal spin on them, and then tapping them down onto digital paper for the world to see (maybe). This time, as I feel jumping straight into a post about how Romney is bad for more than just energy, or how George Osborne is single-handedly ruining our green policy, I’m going to go for the old-school blog post - one about my recent experiences in the world of a sustainability and environment masters degree.
Coming from a Geography BSc I was pretty surprised to see fellow map-makers and coloring pencil adepts such as myself going for the same thing, and of similar age at that, and it has since been proven that my base foundation in subjects varying from policy to economics, ecology to conservation and beyond give me a slight advantage over many of those who specialized in something crazy like physics or biology. Of course the business graduates slot right in, but then business seems to be applicable to everything these days eh, the science subject that never should have been. Anyway, I’m digressing too far, back on track.
In these first two weeks alone I’ve been introduced to the nitty gritty of pure economics in the form of supply and demand and marginal costs, learnt basic legal law, been taught the ‘philosophies’ involved with understanding knowledge (I thought the same thing…) and had some fascinating guest seminars from people at the top of their game. One of the most notably impressive was a lecture on climate change in the policy and societal frame, by a fellow by the name of Clive Bates, a DECC scientist whose had one hell of a varied career, and one which I was instantly envious of, even if it meant all the handwork involved. In a few days time I will be starting work in a small 6-person seminar with a leading environmental barrister who could talk his way out of a high-security prison if he needed to, focusing on how best to go about creating a post-Kyoto global framework; a massive topic I know, but I sure am relishing the chance to get into the real science and policy of such a hotly debated idea.
It is these few things that make not only studying at Imperial, but studying a masters stick out from the rest of the competition, and anything I’ve experienced prior. Here, we don’t so much get taught ‘stuff’ like in an undergrad degree, but instead we are taught how to think, how to view the world holistically and as critically as we can, and to basically act like the rational, selfless and well-informed monkeys we all really should be. We aren’t being told the history of this, or the importance of that, we’re being given life advice and direction so strong, I’m starting to think the 80% employment rate just months after graduation is not such a ridiculous claim as it seems; and before you think it, that’s employment in relevant sectors, not just part-time behind the local bar.
Not only this, but as quite possibly the first group of generations which really has a stake in the globally apparent climate crisis and all the other bad things associated with it, and a strong responsibility to kick our ancestors hard in the ass before hopefully setting things up nicely for the future, we’re all highly invested in the course, as are it’s directors. Despite the 40+ age of this particular course (Environmental Technology for those interested) I can’t help but feel now is the most important time for this course, and so many others like it popping up around the world, and the fact that they’re thriving is a silver-lining to say the least. In the words of our course manager, we will become the ‘environmental crusaders’ this world so desperately needs; whilst I’m unsure crusader is the best term to be used to be taken seriously, it sure makes us feel good.
Something that really stuck out to me today however, and this is a point that really needs emphasizing, is that I’m frankly not surprised much of the public is neither emotionally or intellectually invested in the green way of life. This occurred to me whilst sitting in a lecture about ‘public perceptions of risk’, in which the ins and outs of environmental risk management, health and safety and security were spelled out, in words about as clear as mud. What’s worrying is that these topics are central to everything us environmental scientists do, as risk governs everything in our society, and yet if I struggled to a) get my head around it, or b) actually bother to pay attention due to boredom, how will the public ever do the same?
You hear it all the time, how information and education is the key to putting the developed world on a path which will save us from that rapidly aging phrase ‘climate change’, and I have always believed it to be true, and yet only know do I see what a huge challenge it will be. Sustainability is what I believe to be the future of a harmonized society, and in particular the clean management of energy resources to power our hungry ways, in both developed and developing worlds, so that emissions are kept low (or ‘optimal’ - typical economic view on the system) and our quality of lives nice and high.
This is just me though, and I only have to speak to three or four other coursemates to hear their plans for fixing the future, one bit at a time; some see water as key, others the market or harsher law on the historical polluters, whilst even more are heading for the hands on approach, designing and implementing the very things which will bring about this necessary change. It’s a great working environment to say the least, and gives me confidence that we may actually be able to get some bloody progress made before it’s too late. Then again, ask me in a month’s time, I may not be so happy-go-lucky as I am now!
Anyway, I’ve rambled on romantically and gushingly on the subject of my past several weeks of life, and this isn’t really what my blog was originally for, but I felt like bringing any readers up to speed about it all before getting back into the real-world stuff, and boy is there no shortage of it right now.
So as of this post, ‘A Green Degree’ will be back to its old ways (please write if you had issue with the old ways, always appreciate feedback) and will hopefully be bolstered by this new fangled degree which I’ve just spent 1,000 words praising, and my newfound holistic (they love that word at Imperial) view of the sustainable world.
If you made it this far, you’re either maddeningly bored or far too kind, so whichever one you were, please check back in a couple of days for some proper content!