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Geophysics undergraduate interested in environmental law

  1. Dec 9, 2015 #1

    I am a first year undergraduate student studying geophysics. While I love geophysics and all the geosciences, I'm very interested in going into environmental law. Is this a plausible undergraduate degree for a career in environmental law? I have always loved studying government and politics, and with humans negatively impacting the environment more, I feel that devoting my life to fighting climate change and other environmental issues through means of policy making to be a noble cause.

    What do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2015 #2
    First, "negative impact" is a value judgment. The things that humanity does are not all "bad" for the environment.

    Second, there are better ways to building a more comfortable planet than by filing lawsuit after lawsuit. Someone has to design it. If you really want to change the world, be the person who designs and implements these things.

    Third, your noble cause is just a matter of keeping things efficient and clean. Another way to look at it is to practice good engineering.

    Fourth, I deal with wide eyed believers in this steaming pile of environmentalism every day. They're idealists, not pragmatists. if you want to make a difference, you need to be pragmatic and figure out ways to keep such practices sustainable, while still meeting the needs of society. It is not easy. There is no ONE solution to figuring out how to do this. There have to be compromises.

    Disclaimer: I have a very bad attitude about most who profess to be environmentalists. I've seen too far many narrow minded enviro-idiots who have only their little cause, and don't give a fig over the concerns of anyone else --including other environmentalists. Don't be one of those people.
  4. Dec 16, 2015 #3
    First of all Im certainly not one of those narrow minded people. Second of all we have thousands of engineers working to design things that make society more sustainable and there are plenty of innovations that have been made. The problem is implementing them into society which will take government subsidization. My plan is to not be someone who sues people. I hope to write policy that increases funding in renewable energy and help with the transition from fossil fuels. I have no interest in being an engineer. You have become the ten billionth person to tell me to pursue a career in engineering. You did nothing to answer my question, but express your distaste for lawyers and environmentalists.
  5. Dec 16, 2015 #4
    My apologies. I am approaching my 30th year in my engineering career, so I am quite biased. By the way, the earth has only seven billion people on it, so your definition of a person must be rather interesting to say the least. Another point: if you think you're going to write policy, the very least you will need to learn is how to write a question so that it describes what you really want to know.

    That said, let me warn you very sternly about writing environmental policy
    I am often offended and infuriated by profoundly ignorant policies. They are the bane of my existence. If you want to be effective you NEED that engineering and science background. This is not negotiable. If you expect people like me, the very people who have to make your policies work, to take you seriously, you will have to understand the compromises being made, or you will get results like the one I just gave you.

    You may have no interest in being an engineer but that does not absolve you from understanding the science behind what they do, and how they work. If you can't understand that much then your future in writing environmental policy will be bleak.
  6. Dec 16, 2015 #5
    I understand what you are saying. I agree that it is of the utmost importance that someone who is writing environmental policy have a strong science/engineering background. Hence why I have chosen to get my Undergraduate degree in geophysics. Now back to my original question "Is this a plausible undergraduate degree for a career in environmental law?"
  7. Dec 16, 2015 #6
    Writing environmental policy is not something you get hired for. You make positions like that for yourself. You earn those positions by learning the trade, learning the politics, networking with the political people, and studying the law.

    Is there a need for such people? I guess there has to be. But it's not the sort of work they give to a recent graduate of some university, no matter how well educated they are.

    So to answer your question: YES, the studies you cite are a start. But you will have to work toward that goal for a number of years. And don't forget those who actually have to make that policy work: The engineers, the operators, the management, and the investors.
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