7 Jobs of Highly Effective Environmentalists

Your moment
We are living in an era when information is tucked into your pockets and the sheer array of callings out there can, at times, get dizzying. Here are a few career paths to ensure you give back as much as you can — if not more — to the world when you step out into the field.

1) Chief Sustainability Officer

For those in love with management who also want to make a difference, the role of chief sustainability officer is a worthwhile way to justify that MBA. Most of the prominent corporates nowadays take corporate social responsibility (CSR) and their own environmental impact quite seriously and the chief sustainability officer is often the tip of the spear when it comes to that.

A good way to gain firsthand experience in this field is by working in NGOs dedicated to CSR monitoring between your business degree and your corporate career.

Annual Median Income: EUR 60,000+

2) Hydrologist

Water is fast turning into the new oil. With cities like Cape Town having announced that 2019 will be Day Zero — when the city’s taps go empty — and several cities in India and elsewhere mere years away from it; the need for hydrologists coming to the fore could not be overstated.

The responsibilities of hydrologists are many, with several sub-genres involved. Simply put, hydrologists are in charge of planning, developing and ensuring sustainable use of domestic and natural water resources. It is a job closely tied with engineering, since hydrologists often have to design or oversee mechanical equipment for the most efficient flow of water through pipes and channels.

Several courses exist, especially in the Netherlands, for budding hydrologists to gain expertise.

Annual Median Income: EUR 48,031

3) Urban Planner

Perhaps one of the more conventional career paths on this list, urban planning dates back to when cities first took root in empires with design-conscious rulers who demanded beauty and symmetry at efficient costs. Urban planners continue to play a vital role in conceptualizing land use projects for the expansion of cities to accommodate the ever-growing population.

“Environment-friendly” has become the watchword in contemporary urban planning, where the focus is laid on the “smart city” outlook.

Annual Median Income: EUR 42,505

4) Environmental Engineer 

A chief sustainability officer will likely have plenty of dealings with environmental engineers, whose job it is to advise governments and businesses on how best to minimize the environmental impact of their projects. With environmental oversight agencies closely monitoring such projects, the need for an effective environmental engineer is immense.

These engineers typically focus on air and water pollution consequences of industrial projects and advice on sustainable operations and recycling programmes.

Annual Median Income: EUR 41,039

5) Solar Photovoltaic Installer

More of a hands-on person? Become part of the solar energy revolution by working as a solar photovoltaic installer! Your job is to install and repair solar panels — the demand for which is soaring. A relatively new field, it has immense growth prospects and does not require more than a high-school diploma to get started.

Within the job, on-field trainings and apprenticeships may last for a year. This is a job that requires mechanical expertise and presence of mind.

Annual Median Income: EUR 24,715

6) Environmental Lawyer

There’s always a buck to be had when lawyers fight for the dark side, but other avenues of law do exist that ensure some lawyers a better sleep than the others. The never-ending struggle between the business-industrial complex and Team Environment means that lawyers with this specialization are perpetually needed. 

Whether it’s deforestation, hazardous waste, or sustainability — environmental lawyers are witnessing their field growing larger and more challenging by the year, spurred on by the global climate change debate. One needs a Master’s degree in the equivalent field of law to gain entry into this profession.

Annual Median Income: EUR 47,986

7) Urban Farmer

This is more of a side-profession than a full-time vocation, primarily for those idealists who wish for sustainable, autonomous living. Urban farmers are generally city-dwellers who turn their apartments and balconies into micro-farms.

In towns and villages with more land space available, urban farming can be a primary profession, but for those not wishing to leave the comfortable metropolis existence — it’s a great way of cultivating your own food and making money in terms of sales and savings. No diploma needed but a few lessons in farming and gardening won’t go amiss.  

Annual Median Income: EUR 13,000

Note: All salaries are approximations based in the Netherlands.

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    Join us for the second of our Kinder Conversations - the Sky has a Limit.

    Following our investigation into the Future of Meat in February, we've turned our attention to the sky. We'll be talking about whether air travel can be more sustainable, and how.

    We're delighted to be hosting this event in collaboration with our friends at TQ, the Amsterdam tech hub where we're based. 

    📅 When Monday 17 June 18:30 - 20:30
    📭 Where TQ, Singel 542, Amsterdam
    🎯 Why should I fly Kinder? To hear about the latest research and technology making air travel more sustainable. To find out what you can do to reduce the impact your flights are having. To share a drink with like-minded travelers, and sample some of our vegan snacks (including beloved Professor Grunschnabel ice cream, as seen at the Future of Meat event)

    🎫 How can I get in? We’re offering two ticket levels: Economy (free) and Business Class (for the price of a donation to Cool Earth). Secure your seat now!

    More about The Sky has a Limit

    Here at Kinder, we believe that greener travel is one of the key ways in which we can tackle the climate crisis. Travelling green can mean a lot of things, but right now we’re concerned about the aviation industry.  

    If aviation were a country, it’d be a top 10 polluter - and C02 emissions from air travel are growing many times faster than any other form. We’re already in a very dangerous position, and although there are many potential solutions, we sometimes feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what to do about it.

    That’s where Kinder Conversations comes in.

    Kinder Conversations is a series of events which delve into the biggest issues facing the world. 

    At the Sky has a Limit, we’ll be bringing together representatives from research and technology, the aviation industry and the not-for-profit sector to talk about sustainable air travel. We’ll hear more about the problem, and a lot more about the solutions.

    Plus, there’ll be time to get a drink from TQ’s bar (buying a drink helps our friends from TQ support more events like this), try some vegan ice cream, and chat to fellow travellers about the steps you can take to travel greener.

    ✈️ Are you ready to #flykinder? Then secure your boarding pass here

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  • How flying cars could help solve the problem of air pollution


    I don't have a driving license and when pressed about getting one by friends tired of chauffeuring me around I usually say I will only get one if I can drive something cool, like the Batmobile or a flying car. Unfortunately, I might have to honour that promise as it seems that flying cars are finally taking off (alas, no commercial Batmobiles in sight).

    Indeed, several promising startups around the world are working to deliver the "car of the future"  over the next few years. Like the Dutch company PAL-V that showed off a limited edition of its flying car at the Geneva Auto Show in Switzerland.

    The PAL-V is a hybrid between a car and a helicopter (or more precisely, a gyrocopter), able to reach a top speed of 160 km/h on the tarmac but also get airborne in just 5 minutes, hitting airspeeds of 180 km/h over a range of up to 500 km. But since buying a PAL-V will set you back around € 350,000 I might have to pass on this one. Moreover, flying this beauty requires not just a driving license but also (understandably) a license to fly, and that's just too much for me.


    Thankfully, other companies are developing vehicles that need no driver at all. Aerospace manufacturer Bell Helicopter, for example, is working on Nexus, an air taxi capable of taking off and landing in the middle of a city (whereas the PAL-V still needs a runway, albeit short, to get airborne).

    Called VTOLs (short for Vertical Take Off and Landing), these aircraft aim to become sort of an Uber of urban air travel, bringing customers to the opposite part of the city or even to a nearby city in a matter of few minutes.

    If you're at JFK airport in New York, for example, and have a meeting in Manhattan, instead of embarking on a 1-hour, Cosmopolis-style taxi ride, you could just hail a flying car and be downtown in 5 minutes.  

    Futuristic as it may sound, concrete plans to make it come true are underway. Earlier this month, German startup Lilium successfully completed the first test of its new five-seater Lilium Jet, an electric vehicle that, according to the company, will have a range of 300 km and a top speed of 300 km/h. 

    The reason electric flight is such an exciting area of research is not just because flying taxis will allow a handful of high rollers to drastically cut on their commuting time. Electric flying cars might be really good for the environment too.

    A recent study published by Nature highlighted that, in some cases, flying cars could eventually be greener than even electric road cars, cutting emissions while reducing traffic on increasingly busy roads.

    Moreover, developments in the field of flying cars could also boost the research on electric flight at large, including long haul electric flights, sort of the Holy Grail of aviation. And, as known, the civil aviation industry needs to find effective ways to lower its carbon emissions as soon as possible. 

    However, as explained by Hugh Hunt in an article on The Conversation that we republished here on Kinder World, "gaps in necessary technology and practical uncertainties beyond the cars’ promising physics mean that they may not arrive in time to be a large-scale solution to the energy crisis and congestion." 

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  • Why the current state of aviation is one of the main threats to our planet


    Let's get this one thing straight: most people prefer flying to other modes of transport, and we seem to do it more and more often. The airline industry is booming and 4.1 billion passengers have been transported last year. Almost every figure one looks at shows the impressive increase in flights over the last two decades.

    Alexandre de Juniac, head of the International Association for Flight Transport proclaims: “In 2000, the average citizen flew just once every 43 months. In 2017, the figure was once every 22 months. Flying has never been more accessible. And this is liberating people to explore more of our planet for work, leisure, and education. Aviation is the business of freedom."  

    However, this ‘business of freedom’ runs on fossil energy carriers as planes still almost exclusively fly on kerosene. Kerosene is a fuel produced by oil refining and carbon dioxide (CO2) is the major product of burning kerosene. The 2-5% of all global CO2 emissions the aviation industry emits is caused by its fuel consumption (and choice). And unlike other fuels like diesel or gasoline, airlines don't pay taxes on kerosene in most countries — making cheap air travel possible.

    In 2018 Europe’s biggest airline Ryanair became number 9 in the list of Europe’s biggest CO2 emitters and still claims to be the ‘greenest and cleanest airline’. Andrew Murphy – the aviation manager at the European Federation for Transport and Environment — argues that Ryanair the new coal when it comes to climate pollution. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, on the other hand, dismisses such claims by saying the claims are ‘’complete and utter rubbish’’.

    Other airlines, like KLM who partly uses renewable jet-fuel, are acknowledging the problem but they aren't too far behind Ryanair on the list of emitters. 

    The growth of the industry is not expected to slow down. India and China are the biggest growth markets, the latter alone is building 200 new commercial airports in the next ten years. Moreover, industry forecasts suggest that emissions will rise by 700% until 2050 which amounts to more than 4% of the world’s remaining carbon budget.

    If we want to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, every the average earthling has a quota of two tons of CO2 per annum but just a return trip between New York and Amsterdam generates three tons already.

    Compared to other modes of transport planes are the biggest CO2 emitters per travelled kilometre followed by cars, buses and finally trains which are the least polluting. The CO2 emissions, however, are only one half of the medal. The impact of flying on global warming is different than most other transport as it happens in the air high above the ground where the processes that cause or reduce global warming happen. These include CO2 and nitrogen oxide emission but also cloud formation, ozone and soot as well as methane reduction.

    The climate impact of the emitted greenhouse gases in the stratosphere are three times higher than on the ground. Flying also causes condensation trails and fog clouds in certain weather conditions. Such clouds can have a warming or a cooling effect on the climate. One way to improve the climate effect of flying would be planning better routes where warming clouds are avoided and the formation of cooling clouds is favoured — our current routes have an overall warming effect.

    So, hypothetically, some flights with clever flight-route planning might even reduce global warming. However, as we don't have time to hypothesise, we need to find and urgently implement other ways to bring down the impact of flying, like using better fuels or even better planes.

    This article was written by Eric Schuler for Kinder World. Schuler is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam and works on new industrial sustainable chemistries to turn captured CO2 into useful things such as plastics or fuel. He's also a photojournalist with an interest in climate and land-use change.

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