There’s no hiding the fact that human activity is devastating the natural world. If the life of Earth lasted 24 hours, human existence would constitute just one second. In this time, 80 percent of the world’s forests have been destroyed, sea levels have risen between four and eight inches, and the ice caps are melting at an exponential rate.
We live in a world founded on the use of fossil fuels. Even something as small as our morning cup of coffee can show us how unsustainable our lifestyles are. Having travelled thousands of miles in a fuel-guzzling aeroplane after using tonnes of water to produce the beans, it’s easy to see how our everyday activities can quickly lead to mass devastation of the natural world.
Although we all know that our current lifestyles are not sustainable in the long term, the environmental impact of human activity is still too much of an abstract concept for most people to grasp.
This is why studying environmental science is more important than ever. If people and governments are not going to make the necessary changes to prevent the further destruction of Earth, environmental scientists can shout louder in the form of more evidence, and more effective solutions.
Environmental science will transform your concern about the environment into practical knowledge you can use to develop the next form of renewable energy, or limit the impact of habitat lost through alternative methods of production that use less resources.
One of the scariest impacts of human activity on the environment is disruptions to food production. Climate changes are already impacting crop yield. And, with greenhouse gasses still being released with no signs of slowing, the problem is set to continue. If nothing is done, we could one day see a dramatic drop in the amount of food the world can produce, leaving us at the mercy of intense hunger issues.
As an environmental scientist, you will have the chance to understand the full implications of human activity, and use your knowledge to develop solutions to make the world more sustainable and improve quality of life worldwide. A degree in environmental science could lead you to develop new compounds that stimulate food growth to help overcome inevitable climate difficulties, for example
“Even a small increase in yield can be massively important to agriculture – increasing food production and food security, whilst enhancing agricultural sustainability,” said Dr Brett Ferguson of the Centre for Integrative Legume research at the University of Queensland.
As an environmental science graduate, you will gain knowledge that will only continue to grow in value as time progresses and pressure to resolve environmental conflict remains steadily on the rise.
Here are four top Environmental Science Schools that are helping solve 21st century issues…
One of Australia’s leading universities, The University of Queensland (UQ),is ranked in the top 50 universities worldwide both for academic excellence and employability, and represents the ideal place to study Environmental Science.
Students have access to a diversity of natural environments, including one of the world’s greatest natural sites, the Great Barrier Reef. Many of the 3800 reefs which make up this natural wonder have experienced disturbances from bleaching events, and crown-of-thorns starfish infestations, posing challenges in conservation management for students, academics, community groups, governments and other decision-makers.
Undergraduate students can choose to study Environmental Management or Environmental Science. There are also world-class postgraduate courses in disciplines including Environmental Management. Research-level students can work alongside academics who are international leaders in their fields to gain a PhD in environmental studies.
The Faculty of Science at McGill University offers an interdisciplinary learning experience that focuses on collaboration. The faculty promotes ‘learning through discovery’, increasingly encouraging student-staff interaction. This grants participants the chance to be a part of ground-breaking research that propels their scientific knowledge forward.
There are a range of undergraduate environmental science majors that can be taken at McGill, including Atmospheric Chemistry, Atmospheric Science, Earth-Science System and the Environment. Research-based Master’s and PhDs are offered by the university, where you work alongside and academic expert on a topic of your choice.
“One of the greatest features of McGill Science is its interdisciplinary emphasis. This places McGill on the cutting edge of science in the international community of universities. Fourteen diverse departments encourage an exciting exchange among different academic disciplines. Science at McGill is where you’ll find the research leaders of today…and tomorrow,” said Belinda Kong, a graduate from the faculty.
Ranked in the top 25 universities in the QS World University Rankings, the University of Michigan is renowned for academic prestige. And, found in one of the most exciting states in the US, there is almost as much culture as there is academic rigor offered by the university.
The Earth and Environmental Sciences offers one major in the subject for undergraduate students which aims to give a comprehensive overview of the discipline, as well as a range of minors like Earth Sciences and Environmental Geology. There is also a Masters course and a PhD option in Earth and Environmental Sciences.
The school aims to prepare students for the dynamic world on environmental research beyond university, offering internship and job placement advice for the biggest companies in the industry including Shell and BP Global, through the UoM Careers Resource.
At the University of Hong Kong, the Faculty of Science focuses on developing students who can resolve ongoing conflict in the scientific world and adapt to changing environments.
Undergraduate Environmental students can choose from 14 majors, including Earth System Science, Ecology & Biodiversity, and Environmental Science. Postgraduate students can choose to study the Master of Science in Environmental Management, and there are also some PhD offerings.
The faculty prides itself on being an international hub that encourages global collaboration and international study. The faculty has links with over 300 institutions around the world that are equipped for student exchange. Over 250 students from the faculty completed a study abroad programme in 2016/17. The faculty has students from over 20 different countries, meaning there is a strong international culture on campus.
“I was very fortunate to have received enormous support from HKU for the competition of the HSBC Overseas Scholarships. That eventually opened the door for me to study chemistry at Oxford University for one year…[this] would not happen without the support and education from HKU” said Chan Hau Sun Sam, a graduate from the faculty.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Asian Correspondent