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Climate change a give, take

On the Grid

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Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Let me say at the outset that I am not a climate-change expert.

I am a big believer in trends as a way to discover and create your next job, and stay valuable in a marketplace that can change as fast as the weather. And that brings me to a trend you need to pay close attention to: our weather.

As is the case with almost any change, the shift in weather is affecting jobs two ways: taking them away and leading to new ones. See the draft National Climate Assessment report that Congress requested, recently released for public comment.

Here's one example of how climate change takes jobs away.

Earlier this month, Cargill Beef said it's closing one of its Texas plants because of a prolonged drought in the state that thinned cattle herds to their lowest level in 60 years. As a result, 2,000 workers had to relocate to another plant or find new jobs.

No, we're not an agriculture-based economy anymore. The sector still employs up to 250,000 workers, making agriculture one of the biggest victims of changing weather patterns, says John A. Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas outplacement services.

According to a recent New York Times article by Andrew C. Revkin in which he references the federal report, “climate-change effects on agriculture will have consequences for food security” and food processing, storage, transportation and retailing. And that can affect jobs.

Tourism is another industry affected by the weather. With ski resorts getting less snow, skiers are headed further north, and resorts are making more artificial snow, Challenger says.

Companies in transportation and travel will be affected as people travel more to climates that stay warmer longer. Again, some jobs will go away; others will increase.

More work will come about as a result of climate change in places where the weather has been more temperate. In Chicago, which has had little snow this year, Challenger points out that construction workers have continued to do their jobs without weather-related stoppages.

And in the aftermath of major storms, “there does tend to be increased economic activity and job creation in the areas impacted as cities and states clean up and rebuild,” he says.

Climate change threatens human health and well-being — wildfires; decreased air quality; and diseases transmitted by insects, food and water, according to the draft report. So public health actions such as preparedness and prevention become paramount.

Strategies to do both can create jobs.

The biggest and most positive effect on employment will come from “initiatives to address and reverse climate change,” Challenger says. These include “the development of new renewable energy sources and the manufacture of more energy-efficient transportation.”

When it comes to looking at this trend and your career, think of it like this:

• What jobs are being created — or will be created — to respond to climate change?

• What jobs will help combat climate change?

• What jobs might help reverse climate change?

Email andrea@andreakay.com.

 

 
 


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