Eco-tip: Keeping up with climate terms can help with jobs and more

One issue dividing the recent United Nations Climate Summit related to the amount of money wealthy nations, which emit the most greenhouse gases, should pay to poorer nations bracing for worsening impacts of climate disasters.

Problems of this sort revolve around measurements and definitions.

How much of Pakistan’s recent flooding, for example, was due to carbon levels above 350 parts per million in the atmosphere? Should the definition of “developing nations” change so China and India are no longer excluded from paying into a loss-and-damage fund demanded by the Association of Small Island States to cope with tidal surges and eventual rising sea levels?

These differences, aired during COP 27, or the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — which had been slated to end Friday but was extended into Saturday to continue negotiations — reveal the difficulty of current efforts to formulate solutions.

In contrast, defining goals was easier.

Most notably, at COP 21 in 2015, representatives of 197 countries reached consensus on the Paris Agreement, a commitment to keep global warming below certain measures. But nations now struggle to agree on a wide array of new definitions and measurements in proposals formulated to reach goals.

In the meantime, businesses and government agencies fighting climate change have created many jobs and programs to define and measure their own environmental impact.

Anyone wanting to interview for one of those jobs, compete for grants to fund implementation of climate change initiatives or follow news related to climate efforts would do well to learn the terms and metrics becoming commonplace references.

Many speaking this new language of environmental initiatives do not even pause to translate.

For example, Patagonia, the Ventura-headquartered outdoor clothing company with annual revenues of $1 billion, posted a job opening this month for an “environmental impact specialist.” The company, which recently changed its ownership structure so “Earth is our only shareholder,” starts with relatively familiar lingo in the job description, noting the specialist would support the company's "corporate wide GHG inventory and ESG reporting process.”

No definitions are offered, but GHG is widely understood to mean greenhouse gas. ESG, meanwhile, refers to the “environment, social, and governance” standards of a company.

However, the terms become more complex. The selected candidate would contribute to "ongoing supply chain decarbonization efforts” while using technical skills to help "implement and evolve Patagonia’s Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L) tool” and participate in "cross functional supplier onboarding.” Another key involves the company’s “LCA process,” an undefined reference to "life cycle analysis,” or measuring the impact of materials used along the way from acquisition through manufacturing, retail and discard.

Similarly, public agencies in Ventura County are hiring employees to help meet state mandates for 75% reduction of organic waste in landfills and 20% recovery of food for human consumption, both by 2025.

CalRecycle, the state recycling agency, will enforce mandates based on legislative requirements to cut so-called SLCPs, or short-lived climate pollutants. SLCPs are gases, such as methane emitted by rotting garbage in landfills, that are much more powerful than carbon at retaining heat in the atmosphere and that act over a shorter term.

Locally, positions with duties related to the mandate have appeared on job boards: the city of Oxnard recently closed an application period, while the county of Ventura soon hopes to recruit.

The academic sphere also holds opportunities related to measuring and controlling newly named factors of climate change. Last month, UC Davis launched the Center of Agricultural Innovation, starting with a $50 million donation from Lynda and Stewart Resnick, owners of The Wonderful Co. The center aims to tackle climate change by “developing groundbreaking technologies and solutions to reduce our collective carbon footprint and creating a more sustainable agriculture system,” according to an update recently emailed to alumni.

New terms and measures are essential to understanding and combating climate change. “Name it to tame it” was a slogan first coined by Dr. Dan Siegel for control of anxiety, and “measure to manage” was a concept promoted by W. Edwards Deming, the originator of Six Sigma quality and efficiency methods, who advocated for also managing items not yet measurable.

The private, public and academic sectors are now using these concepts to join the worldwide effort punctuated each year by United Nations climate summits.

David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency, can be reached at 805-658-4312 or

This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: How keeping up with climate terms can help with jobs, more