Green Tech: Careers In Innovation That Will Save The Earth26 April, 2018 / Articles
Plastic is ubiquitous in our life, from day to day items, to medical use, to various electronic devices. There is no question that it has made life more portable and convenient. However, as many are aware plastic waste is a problem for the environment and combatting it has been the focus of this year’s Earth Day.
According to the Plastic Ocean’s Foundation the consumption of plastic has reached 300 million tons per year. Average American consumes about 315 plastic bottles per year, which are single-use, meaning their aggregation is a contributor to plastic waste. The improper disposal and accumulation of plastic has caused considerable disruption to Earth’s ecosystem, more specifically ocean life. Pollution due to plastic has harmed various species of marine life all across the spectrum, ranging from tiny ocean life inhabitants to great whale sharks. According to The Center for Biodiversity, about 300 species eat and get caught in plastic each area. According to the report published in 2017 by UN, in 2010 it has been estimated that there are anywhere from 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic that have made its way into the ocean.
Apart from plastic pollution, Earth’s ecosystem is disrupted from other sources of pollution such as fossil fuels, melting ice caps and rising ocean levels, deforestation and the loss of biodiversity.
Although this points to a grim prognosis, the good news is that human creativity coupled with scientific innovation can alleviate Earth’s problems and with the ultimate hope of persevering it. If you ever wanted to make an impact on the future of the Earth, here four interesting innovation careers that you could explore.
- Product Design Engineer
Product design engineers come up with ideas for innovation coupling ideas between engineering and design. One very cool example of how product engineers are combating the plastic problem is an edible water bottle. That’s right! Skipping Rock’s Lab coming out of Imperial College London has engineered a biodegradable and an edible water bottle.
- Research Scientist
A lot of the innovation we see today originated in the academic institutions by scientists at various interdisciplinary teams, ranging from chemistry to physics to material science. One example of pioneering work to save the earth is a graphene sieve which separates saltwater into drinking water. This will allow access to clean water to millions of people on earth who still do not have such ability. Graphene is the world’s first two-dimensional material known for its versatile properties and thinness, as well as strength. The discovery of graphene was awarded a Nobel prize.
- Clean Car Engineers
As mentioned, fossil fuels are disruptive to the Earth as they erode the ozone layer, thus eradicating the emission of fossil fuels is a priority in order to protect our environment. Electric cars are thought to be one solution to the problem, as traditional cars emit fossil fuels, while electric cars do not. Tesla Motors is an example of a car that runs on electrical energy, rather than oil. Car engineers working in this space put their scientific skills to use in order to help the environment. The renewable-energy sector is finding ways to replace fossil fuels with other types of energy beyond electric, such as wind and solar.
A hydrologist is a professional responsible for studying water quality and purity, as well as gathering research data about bodies of water around the world. Such professionals may work in the field, collecting data about water quality and then analyzing the data. They may work for an environmental protection agency, where the work will be concerned with the prevention of pollution or hazardous materials disposed of in water. Due to the discussion about plastic waste above, such work is very important for the future of our planet.
Dr. Anna Powers is an entrepreneur, advisor and an award winning scientist. Her passion is sharing the beauty of science and encouraging women to enter STEM fields.