There’s an uncomfortable truth in the worlds of energy and ecology that, as the years pass, is set to become a significant global problem: air conditioning technology is highly inefficient and polluting.
This is already an issue today. Many places – often in the hottest regions of the world – rely on dirty energy sources like coal, oil, and gas for electricity generation. As the years pass, though, the Earth will warm, and more people in developing nations will acquire more discretionary income. These factors are expected to lead to an explosion in use of and reliance on air conditioning, greatly exacerbating the problem.
For some new environmental professionals, finding ways to improve air conditioning technology will be one of the most important challenges to take on in the coming years. Wondering what can be done? Here are a few of the ways green professionals can help.
Environmental Studies Graduates Can Advocate for Fewer HFCs
Air conditioners make use of gases called “hydrofluorocarbons,” or HFCs, to make warmer air cool. Unfortunately, these gases are known to leak out into the atmosphere, where they act as a greenhouse gas with a much stronger effect than the CO2 that is the primary focus of many environmental activists.
In 2016, a solution was agreed to by 170 countries, including the USA. The use of HFCs is permitted to continue as normal until 2024, at which point a decades-long process of phasing the gases out will begin. America has begun a more aggressive phase-out, with some variants of HFCs already banned, but the process of fully eliminating reliance on these gases is still expected to take many years.
While this is a start, the aggressive nature of climate change is such that an acceleration of this process can only be a positive for global human health. One excellent avenue environmental studies graduates can use to help is to promote quicker progress at the local level. Those eco experts who elect to pursue careers relating to public policy can educate civic leaders about the importance of making a transition to HFC-free cooling, as well as help craft legislation that will lead to results in the nearer term. Enough action of this nature, built up over time, could lead to a significant reduction in HFC use, and a safer climate for all.
Environmental Studies Offer Useful Skills For Transforming the Cooling Industry Itself
In order to achieve a future in which cooling technology is not as harmful to the planet, it will be necessary to actually develop new, more energy efficient cooling technology. As most companies rely on consumer demand to spur new development, and sales of modern and inefficient air conditioners remain quite high, the process of this development may prove slower than ideal.
One of the unique benefits of choosing to complete a sustainability master’s online at Unity College is that the education includes training not only in science and advocacy, but in skills that are easily transferrable to business. Learning to help manage and nurture scientific innovation in a business context and to engage in research-based marketing are highly transferrable tools, and could be used to great effect in the cooling technology industry. A passionate expert could make a strong push toward improving the energy efficiency of air conditioners, with both the scientific urgency and the potential consumer upside – a lower operating cost for more energy-efficient units – to draw on as backup.
If you feel passionately about the urgency of this environmental issue, consider taking your expertise to the private sector after graduation, and carving out a place for yourself in project management or entrepreneurship. You could find yourself with a stable and interesting role helping guide the industry toward better energy efficiency, and thereby helping to reduce the global impact of this technology in both the short and long term.
Do you want to attend a top school of sustainability and help protect the world?
Contact Unity College to learn more about our online MA programs!