Environmental Professionals are Jedi

Obi Wan would have made a good environmental professional. Photo courtesy of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones special in Vanity Fair magazine.

Obi Wan would have made a good environmental professional. Photo courtesy of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones special in Vanity Fair magazine.

Lately I’ve been thinking about ways to describe the work of environmental professionals. I’ve also been enjoying a renewed interest in Star Wars. This comes from my son’s growing interest in Star Wars, the hype of Episode VII and watching Star Wars Rebels. This combination has made me realize that environmental professionals and Jedi have a lot in common. A bit of a stretch? Maybe. But it’s fun.

Describing the work of an environmental professional to someone outside the field can be difficult. It’s not as easy as saying, I’m a doctor, a teacher, or an accountant. I once described myself as an environmental Winston Wolfe. We don’t all do the work of The Wolf. But many environmental professionals share similarities with the Jedi. Let me explain.

  • There aren’t that many of us. There’s often only one or a handful of environmental professionals working on a job or within a company. Much like how there is only a handful of Jedi.
  • We believe our work is for a higher purpose. For the environmental professional, it’s creating a healthier planet. Most of us have a strong connection and enjoy the natural world and wildlife. The Force connects all living beings.
  • Environmental professionals who embrace the work/life balance get a sense of satisfaction and completeness with their work and life. Much like how the Force creates a compassionate and self-knowledgable Jedi.
  • We are often based out of large cities and are then sent to remote locales to investigate and correct problems. The Jedi are based in Coruscant and travel to all corners of the galaxy. This can be glamorous, but it is often remote, rural or ordinary.
  • We’re not always received with open arms. Some embrace our help. Some are skeptical until they see results, such as making their job site or hometown a healthier place. Some see us as interfering with their space. I was recently told that we “…go too far with this EPA crap.”
  • Our best decisions and actions are based on facts and science,  not emotions, conjecture or rumors. An environmental decision based on emotion is a shortcut and can lead to fear, anger, hate, suffering…you know, the Dark Side.

Of course not all environmental professionals are Obi Wan or Yoda. Some of us are better than others. We all have different skills and strengths – chemists, hazardous materials managers, biologists, oceanographers, energy consultants, etc.

If you wanted me to speculate about which current environmental professionals are Yoda, Mace Windu, Anakin, etc., it’s not happening. I started, but I was either making wild stretches or picking people who most of you wouldn’t know.

If there are any readers left…Where does this set today’s environmental professionals in the timeline of the Star Wars universe? Environmental professionals have only been around for a few decades and only prominent in the past 15-20 years. Our numbers are growing. I guess that puts us in the equivalent time of the Jedi before Episode I. If this is the more civilized aged, I’d hate to think what’s going to happen to our planet if we all get Order 66’d.

May the Force be with all the environmental professionals.