Bittu Sehgal, Environmentalist and Editor of Sanctuary magazine – Career Prospects

What does an environmentalist do?

Basically an environmentalist defends the environment! But this can take many shapes and forms. Some fight pollution, others fight to save tigers (as I do) and yet others pitch their lives into educating others in the hope that they will act more responsibly once they know better.

What are the various job avenues for an environmentalist? (where can he/she find work)
Actually anyone can be an environmentalist. If you are a journalist you write about the environment. If you are a businessman, you finance environmental projects. If you are a film producer you use your talent to communicate values.... you get the drift. In my view, ‘Professional Environmentalists’ can do less good than ordinary people working out of a sense of commitment.

Environmentalism is associated with crusaders like Medha Patkar and Baba Amte. Can an environmentalist find white collar jobs in the corporate sector?
Yes, but more often than not, such jobs will involve doing Public Relations for such companies, whose bottom lines generally mean more than their sense of responsibility to the public. Of course exceptions do exist.

Today in most companies we have the Chief Information Officer, Chief Executive Officer, etc. Will we ever have the Chief Environmental Officer in every company?
Most corporates overseas do have such a post, but again, these people generally wield very little power. They do what they are told and if they do not they find their careers blocked by the finance people or owners of the enterprises. Sorry to give this gloomy scenario to young people, but this is the truth.

How important is education if one wants to become an environmentalist?
Education is a relative word. Some of the most ‘highly educated’ people are the least environmentally educated.

What according to you are the qualities that make a good environmentalist?
You must love the earth. Have respect for life. Believe that you can make a difference. Preach what you practice.