There are countless issues that need to be addressed in the world, but climate change is perhaps the most urgent and the most pervasive. It threatens every single one of us, and the timeline to do anything to slow its effects is getting narrower by the day.
While it can be tempting to curl up in a ball and panic about our impending doom, there are more productive things we can all do. Several awesome organizations around the world are working hard to monitor and counter the effects of climate change on our planet’s natural resources, and you can join them.
Go diving along coastal reefs to maintain dwindling coral, head out into the jungle to help preserve the habitat of endangered wildlife, or simply campaign to educate people on what they can do to help. Whatever you choose, you will be on the front line of the fight to save our planet.
Where to Go
Climate change is a global issue that affects every single country in the world. However, there are a few places that are particularly affected by climate change, and some with particularly active environmental organizations.
Brazil contains the biggest portion of the Amazon rainforest, home to 10% of the world’s biodiversity. Though deforestation is perhaps the biggest threat to this biodiversity, climate change is also having its effect. Volunteer organizations in this part of the world work to protect the Amazon’s wildlife, track the effects of climate change and prevent further destruction.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of its most famous landmarks, but its coral deposits are being rapidly destroyed by rising temperatures. Volunteers with diving certificates can collect crucial data and help maintain the coral, but there is also work to be done in education and admin roles.
When people think “climate change”, one of the first images that come to mind is that of a melting glacier in the North Pole. The Northernmost regions of Canada contain much of the ice that we are losing, which is why several research organizations are based there. As a volunteer, you can help monitor rising sea levels and protect the wildlife of these remote areas.
Climate change is one of the biggest emergencies of our time, and yet there is still a huge amount of work to be done in terms of mobilizing people and governments to enact real change.
Volunteers can help environmental organizations spread their agenda through campaigning and education programs, but also through administrative roles like marketing, finance, or project management.
If you prefer something more hands-on, you may want to look into conservation volunteering opportunities. As countless species lose their habitats to climate change and deforestation, nature reserves and the organizations that run them have become their last defense.
This type of volunteering can take you anywhere from a tropical jungle to an arctic station, helping to support the everyday maintenance of essential natural habitats. A huge trend in this area is that of "citizen science", based on the idea that normal people can help collect the data needed to conduct scientific research.
Similarly, our oceans and their inhabitants are extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Several organizations worldwide are dedicated to mitigating these effects and require volunteers to conduct research, carry out monitoring, and clean up beaches.
Planning Your Trip
Due to the scale and urgency of the climate crisis, there are more opportunities than ever for volunteers to get involved. In fact, environmental volunteering is one of the most popular types of programs in the world, so your biggest challenge will be choosing the one for you.
How To Choose A Climate Change Volunteer Program
First, you need to decide whether you want to be working in the field or in a more administrative role. Organizations all over the world need people to help with jobs like marketing and fundraising, so these are great placements to seek out if you have these skills to offer. Conversely, conservation jobs in the field rarely require specialist training.
You can also choose a program based on what kind of climate and environment you want to work in. Conservation projects abound in jungles and rainforests -- South America and Southeast Asia are popular for these -- as well as along coasts all over the world.
Health & Safety
For the most part, you will be trained for any particular hazards that your job may entail. Just make sure your insurance covers you for any activities you will be doing (such as working with certain animals) and that you have all the necessary vaccinations and medications if you are going to be working somewhere like the rainforest.
Other Need To Know
One of the best things about climate change volunteering is that much of the work can be carried out with little training -- think jobs like collecting data and cleaning up beaches. This means this is a rare type of volunteering where short programs of one or two weeks can be just as beneficial as longer stays, making it a great option for those with limited time.