Scientist Alejandro Frid's Book Tackles Climate Change Wisely

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Alejandro Frid on research dive off Tar Islands.  Photo by Rowan Trebilco.Alejandro Frid on a research dive in upper kelp canopy off the Tar Islands, southeastern Haida Gwaii, July 2009.  Photo by Rowan Trebilco.

Though scientists have provided a roadmap to stop the rising emissions and the imminent disaster it will create, the fossil fuel industry and it’s public subsidies are only getting bigger every year, warns Frid.  

Canada is a serious offender in its disregard of scientists’ warnings. In recent years, under the Conservative government, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada has played it’s part, “waging war on our future by dismantling environmental legislation, muzzling federal scientists and eliminating government programs aimed at scientific management of natural resource,” writes Frid. 

The goal of the government is to clear the way for pipelines, and accelerate the exploitation of the tar sands, he explains.  As an example, he points to the Conservative Government’s elimination of the Fisheries Act.  By killing the Act, which had existed for 144 years, the government cleared the way for “thousands of stream crossings by proposed fossil fuel pipelines” so corporate agendas weren’t slowed by legislation. Now that it is gone, 80% of the fresh water fish species currently at risk of extinction are in jeopardy.

“Even if we stop the fisheries, a lot of those species in trouble are not going to recover to the point they were at 50, 100 years ago,” he said.

“Canada’s actions are inseparable from the broader issues of equity,” writes Frid.  In order to stop temperatures from rising a disastrous “two degrees requires that all nations work together to concurrently phase out fossil fuel production.”

He attended a meeting of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, which was organized by a U.S. Department of Defense academic institute regarding the impact of climate change in Bangladesh. In the chapter titled, “Climate and War,” Frid notes that an interest in climate change from a defense point of view is pertinent and prescient. Scarcity of resources and disruption of cities from rising oceans or rivers drying up leads to conflict. A healthy biosphere and a just society are interconnected. 

War, contends Frid, also occurs because of food scarcity, partially a consequence of drought and other environmental disruptions. In his study of lingcod and rockfish, he examines how less food causes animals to take greater risks and act more aggressively, shifting delicate balances. When food becomes scarce and life more precarious, animals fight to survive. People are no different.

Like many scientists, Frid shifted gears from pure scientist to scientist/activist around 2000. He followed the lead of NASA climatologist James Hansen and other colleagues who understand time is of the essence.  A study by Hansen found that weather anomalies occurred ten times more frequently in the past twenty years than the preceding thirty years. The anomalies are attributable to human-caused climate change. Catastrophes, Hansen realized, could become the new normal.

Frid and other scientists stood against and stopped a train loaded with coal. He protested with others on Burnaby mountain against the Keystone pipeline.  He has been arrested for acts of civil disobedience. “A World for My Daughter” is another form of activism.

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