We conduct applied research on new approaches, both tech and human factors, to mitigate climate change equitably. It’s really fun to always be working on new, innovative approaches. It’s ever-evolving. And the applied nature of the work means interacting with all the people that both use these new approaches and those who work on pushing them into the market. Observing the community interaction with innovation is both fulfilling and fascinating. The downside is that applied research takes a lot more time than mainstream implementation, is filled with all kinds of practical barriers, and, ultimately, means a fair amount of failure.
Alexander Flake, patent law, Boulder, Colo.:
As a legal services professional, I found it difficult to find purpose at my previous roles. It didn’t seem like a patent agency with this focus on climate existed, so I made one myself. Since then, I’ve found my work much more fulfilling. Even though I’m doing a very similar job, it feels like I’m part of something larger than myself instead of being motivated primarily by profit. The downside is that I’m making vastly less money than I did at the established firm where I was working previously. As the space as a whole grows, I’m confident I’ll be able to secure more business and improve the profitability of the business without sacrificing on values.
And here’s a final thought: Don’t feel like changing careers? Every job can be a climate job, as some readers noted. You can be the person who pushes your employer to lower the company’s emissions, start recycling, adapt to growing flood risks. Thanks to everyone who took the time to write!