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Solar and Wind technicians: The fastest-growing occupations in the upcoming decade

Climate change and its impact on lives and livelihoods worldwide will no doubt be one of the biggest issues confronting us in the decade ahead. Here are five key questions and answers about the problem and what can be done about it.

Can we stop climate change and how will innovation help?

In short, yes, there are things we can do to help stop climate change, but it won't happen overnight. The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that we need to reduce our emissions by 45% by 2030 if we want to keep global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The way things seem right now there is very little chance of that happening. However, there is no cliff at 1.5 degrees Celsius — meaning the closer we keep warming to 1.5 degrees, even if we overshoot, the better off we'll be. The bottom line is we can still avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Here is the good news: Unlike many other big problems in life, we know how to fix this — by reducing our use of fossil fuels. And by aggressively combating this problem we can make an even better life for ourselves and future generations.

Instead of focusing on denial or avoidance, we can embrace this as an opportunity. Combating climate change will inevitably create vast new industries — it already has — and millions of jobs, a rebirth of ingenuity and a jolt to the world economy. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest-growing occupations in this upcoming decade are solar and wind technician. With median salaries of $42,000 to $55,000 per year, these are good-paying jobs, already being created right now all over the nation. Per unit of energy, for every one job in fossil fuels you need several jobs in solar — so this is a net creator of opportunity. Even with larger employment, because solar and wind are technologies and not commodities like oil, the prices keep falling. In many cases, sustainable energy is already cheaper, and certainly cleaner, than fossil fuels.

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