To my younger readers, certainly including university students: I do hope that my book’s thesis will come through that you too can find great satisfaction in being environmental activists. In this book I try to model for you the planet-protecting power of a law degree, but it is just one of the keys to a career that can help save our life on Earth.
Many of you will be needed in many professions indispensable to pollution control and natural-resource conservation, yet perhaps more of you will be needed as engineers in the private sector. You will build in safe places the new, clean-energy equipment to mitigate the collapse of the climate. You will build—often relocated to safer ground—the civil infrastructure and private properties that will survive the harsh new environment. If you are about to enter a university, consider studying for a growing number of occupations where you can find real happiness—even joy—and paychecks as full-time professionals working to save our life on this little planet.
My life of working through recent environmental history, as a state, national, and international pollution fighter, should be instructive to you as the next environmental protectors. The first half of my public service, at both the state and national levels, was to enforce science-based pollution-control laws. Being a “happy warrior,” it was thrilling to work to take violators including criminals down and off the field. In the second half of my career, often as a teacher I worked internationally in USEPA’s mission of foreign assistance. Despite difficulties in doing this work, it was a pleasure to have the honor to represent our nation to others. Though parts of this book may be heavy, other parts should be fun. While making links to recent events and to history, I hope to entertain you with stories of some adventures, including official assignments to work in Paris and to teach in Germany. In most planet-protection work, there indeed is much “joy” to be found by any person who loves our Earth.
There is no better time than now for you to talk with and – if necessary – to try to “wake up” your parents and your grandparents of my generation so that they will better understand and support your interests and goals. Ask them to read books like mine that credibly model the feasibility of a “green” professional career. Do not hesitate to join a climate march, and do invite your parents and grandparents to join you in the protest. They should remember how the marches of their youth helped to gain better rights for women, black Americans, and other minorities, and to end the U.S. government’s foolish and tragic war in Vietnam. I hope that your older family members will come to share your passion and agree that getting the necessary education is worth the family or personal expense and the effort. For your grandchildren to follow, saving the planet will be the great mission of your time. You can do it, and I wish you well.