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“The balancing effect of stringent social and environmental policy and regulation …can harness humans’ innate creativity and self-interest to tackle a host of problems”.

Apr 12, 2021

Clive Scott is a pilot and musician who lives on Southern Vancouver Island with his wife of 37 years, Emma.  They have three grown sons, and are expecting their first grandchild in June of 2021.  Clive has been a pilot for 40 years and a musician since first joining the school band in Grade 5. Clive grew up on a mixed farm in rural central Alberta, and spent a great deal of time in the outdoors as a young person.  The influence of that upbringing, and that of his father-in-law, atmospheric scientist Dr. Geoff Strong, has led to Clive’s deep concern for the planet, particularly the critical threat of Anthropogenic Global Warming.  The progressive and compassionate attitudes of his parents, and the music of his youth, particularly the protest songs of the 60s and 70s, imbued in Clive a strong sense of social justice, and the importance of connection and empathy toward each other and our planet. 

Growing up I was certainly influenced by the protest songs of artists like Neil Young, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley etc. 

Praveen Gupta: What’s more dominant for you – singing or composing?

Clive Scott:  Definitely composing – I’ve never particularly cared for my voice as it has quite a limited range.  And to be fair, I’ve always focused more on developing instrumental rather than vocal. I love the composing process, particularly today when one has the tools of a recording studio available at home on the computer.  I currently use Logic ProX and cover all the instrumentation on most of my recordings – unless working on a specific collaboration.

PG: Is there something about music and flying that awakens your concern for climate?

CS: I remember loving the land as a kid growing up on the farm.  And flying allows one a different perspective of the beauty of the planet. The growing awareness of the large CO2 footprint inherent in jet aviation has certainly spurred a desire to become more involved in the climate movement.  The airline I work for is taking active measures in fuel reduction and the purchase of offsets which, while far from solving the issue of footprint, is a start in that direction.

The growing awareness of the large CO2 footprint inherent in jet aviation has certainly spurred a desire to become more involved in the climate movement… Interestingly, COVID 19 has shown us that much of airline travel, while desirable, is not essential.

PG: Would your compositions be any different if you were not a pilot?

CS:  Tough question.  Probably.  I think that music reflects the conscious and unconscious rhythms of our daily lives. Flying has also taken me places I might not have seen otherwise – everywhere from New York to wild isolated areas in the Canadian Arctic.  I know that some of my music has been inspired by the landscapes and people I knew while growing up on a mixed farm in Alberta, Canada.  

PG: How’s been the evolution of the pilot in you? What did you start with and what do you fly today?

CS:  I began flying light aircraft in 1981.  My first jobs as a commercial pilot were instructing, small aircraft charter, and crop spraying.  I worked for a number of years as the Chief Pilot for a small charter company flying Twin Otters and other small aircraft in Northern Canada. Following that I worked for Bombardier Canada on a military flight training contract for a few years, followed by a three-year stint with Transport Canada as a civil aviation inspector.  In 2000 I joined WestJet Airlines, based in Calgary Alberta, and have been a captain on the Boeing 737 since 2001.  

PG: How soon do you see flying transforming as environmentally friendly?

CS:  Tough question – I don’t know if flying will ever be environmentally friendly.  The big question is, can we make it sustainable?  Certainly, there is some very promising work being done with alternate fuels such as bio-kerosene, which can reduce CO2 footprint a great deal.  H2 is more problematic due to storage and weight considerations.  There have been great strides made in electric aircraft for short range applications.   Interestingly, COVID 19 has shown us that much of airline travel, while desirable, is not essential – certainly, a lot of business is now conducted remotely.  We may eventually have to view aviation against the larger picture of decarbonization and decide how much is really essential and perhaps look at limiting its scope. 

There are currently 24 trillion worth of cash and assets stashed in tax free havens around the world – yet we are told that transitioning to a carbon free economy is too costly.

PG: Any insights into cover band and the acoustic project? What are your favourite genre?

CS:  Our cover band is called The Chameleons.  We do rock and R&B from the 60’s through to today. Stuff that’s recognizable and danceable mainly, from the Stones, Cream, and the Beatles to the Black Keys, Bowie, U2, Peter Gabriel, and the Foo Fighters.  We are 5 guys who have been around for a while – we take the music seriously but keep egos in check and just have fun with it.  I cover the guitar work in the band.  

The acoustic project is more a vocal showcase for our singer, Dylan.  He has a huge range and is very accomplished.  We are covering some of the Chris Cornell/Eddie Vedder acoustic stuff, as well as some of the Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young acoustic library. 

As to my favourite genre it’s really hard to say. I listen to everything from Classical to Jazz to Metal.  In terms of playing – I sure do love a good driving blues rock tune. 

PG: Does music help you influence more and more people to be climate/ environment friendly?  

CS:  I certainly hope it does.  But I’ve never had direct feedback on that specifically.  Growing up I was certainly influenced by the protest songs of artists like Neil Young, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley etc. 

PG: British Columbia and Alberta are stunning havens of nature. Rampant deforestation and the tar sand projects can destroy what nature has endowed. Do you see any popular resistance to the extractive and fossil fuel business?

CS:  There is certainly popular protest aimed at resource extraction and logging in Canada.  There are currently a number of protests against the continued logging of the remaining old growth temperate rain forest in British Columbia.

The oil sands operations in Northern Alberta are spending a great deal to clean up their direct impact on the land, with varying degrees of success.  Most of the fossil fuel protesting in Canada revolves around the construction of pipelines, particularly to the West coast.   In general there is a pretty active movement across the country in favour of transitioning away from fossil fuel use.  And a number of protests in Alberta right now against the opening of previously protected land on the Eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains to coal mine expansion. 

PG: ‘Killers in Suits’ – is this composition a commentary on capitalism?

CS:  Oh, definitely.  The thing is, I’m not completely against capitalism per se.  I believe that with the balancing effect of stringent social and environmental policy and regulation, capitalism can harness humans’ innate creativity and self-interest to tackle a host of problems. But to do this strong democratic government prioritizing environmental stewardship, social justice, and compassion, is absolutely crucial. 

 “Killers in Suits” addresses the darker side of capitalism, the institutionalized and untrammelled greed that always prioritizes profit and ROI over all other concerns. (The one drop rhythm is a little nod to the social justice songs of the Jamaican reggae genre’). There are currently 24 trillion worth of cash and assets stashed in tax free havens around the world – yet we are told that transitioning to a carbon free economy is too costly. The world spends 2 trillion a year on military expenditures, yet we are told that addressing social injustice is too costly.   Addressing and shifting this paradigm is the single greatest challenge facing humanity today. 

PG: Wonderful speaking to you Clive. May your music heal the Planet.

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