Is a Climate Change Major Necessary?

Is a climate change major necessary? Familiar is the story of people just somehow discovering the issue of climate change and radically making efforts to make changes in their lives and in the world. Solar Today's "A Party Girl Awakens," by Paul Rogat Loeb shares the story of one such amazing individual, Angie De Soto. Angie in her own words: "I started out just an apathetic drunken party girl, with no clear path in my life... Now I'm implementing our campus sustainability plan. People change, and even massive institutions can change." How did Angie begin with her journey to help against climate change? The spark came from her resources geology lecture course of her freshman year. A single course, that mentions climate change in a few chapters is often enough to spark a passion. But are there enough Angie's in the world to make a difference in climate change?

As I mentioned before: at an undergraduate level, there is not a climate change major. I admit my resources are limited and invite anyone to provide further enlightenment in the comment box below. It is possible to study climate change as a focused area of study in graduate programs, such as University of Washinton's Program on Climate Change, but often people don't attain such higher degrees. The climate change scientists, called climatologists, are few and far between for such a large and global problem. Often times the solution to any problem regarding society is education. Well, where is the climate change education in our undergraduate institutions? For the largest problem we as a human race will ever have to face, we seem content with not following through by creating more climate change experts.

What is needed of a climate change major? I asked peers from the University of California, Santa Cruz what their thoughts were on the climate change education despite ranking as a highly sustainable campus. One friend answered, " have been talking about climate change for a long time, however what it was due to and what should be done about it is not talked about in class. I even took 'Our Changing Planet' and there was a lot of theory, meteorological, but not much practical stuff. Things like what laws should be put into place, what regulations should be put into place, how the public should be educated etc needs to be talked about more." He goes on to suggest that the science is much more multifaceted than just carbon emissions and "We need more classes devoted to just that subject."

Prediction for the future. Right now we have scientists researching the effects of climate change and we have politicians that are working on much needed climate legislation. However, there is a gap in communication and understanding between the two areas of natural science and political science. The gap needs to be bridged by those educated in the art of climate science and the science of people. Perhaps someday we'll read job postings on Justmeans requiring a degree in climate change.

Photo Credit: Miles Gehm

Juan Carlo is a surfer promoting renewable energy in the USA, just another guy trying to do some good work.