||June 2008 issue||
John Smol and Jules Blais are half-brothers in blood and full partners
in the service of the environment. Meet our environmental scientists of the year.
By Allen Abel
You probably wouldn’t pick out the two men sitting at the booth at breakfast as siblings. The older man,
John Smol, is ebullient, chuckling, roly-poly. The younger by 12 years, Jules Blais, is a bit more angular, less effusive at first meeting, blindingly bright.
Share your suggestions!
But for the past 20 years, Blais and Smol have worked,
together and separately, with their colleagues and their
students, in some of the most isolated and inhospitable
locations in Canada and abroad, only to find in each place
a noxious concentration of chemicals, contaminants and
poisons in the ground, in the water and in the cells of
living things. Little of what they have reported since the
1980s can be taken as good news; the residue of human
progress touches and tarnishes every corner of our world.
for next year’s Environmental Scientist of the Year
We talk a bit about beginnings, how young people become
enticed, then enchanted, by a career in pure, hard science,
the world of centrifuges and chromatographs and peer
review and the relentless quest for funding.
Blais mentions Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf. Smol says
he was inspired by the undersea adventures of Jacques
Cousteau. Millions of other boys and girls read the same book,
saw the same films, then moved on. But these brothers seized
them as launching pads of ambition and dedication.
For the rest of this story, visit your local newsstand or go to our store to buy this issue.