Dr Angela Frimberger fell in love with nature at a young age and later pursued a career in veterinary oncology, before shifting her focus to the environment. Angela presents to audiences now as a Climate Reality Leader and recently spoke at CSU on the Climate Reality Project. We caught up with Angela to find out more.
Angela, please introduce yourself and tell us how you came to be living in Port Macquarie.
Hi! I grew up in rural Connecticut in the northeastern US, and I’ve been living in the Port Macquarie area for 16 years now! My husband and I moved here with our two children for family reasons – his parents retired here, and since he’s an only child, we moved to be close to them. It’s a wonderful place to live, but it was a big change for me at first, but thanks to the hospitality of this wonderful community, I soon felt at home! I’ve put down some real roots now, and I really love it.
Your career has included the medical field. Can you tell us about what you studied and where your career took you?
As a kid, I decided I wanted to become a veterinarian, because of my love of animals and science, and because there are so many different kinds of work you can do within the veterinary profession. In the US, you study an undergraduate degree first, so I did a BS in Biology at the University of Connecticut and then my VMD at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. After two years in general veterinary practice, I aspired to specialise in oncology, so I applied for a residency in oncology at Tufts University in Massachusetts, and luckily was accepted. I say luckily because it was a great training program; plus, I met my husband there!
You have a keen interest in the environment. How did that evolve throughout your work and life?
Growing up in a beautiful rural area with farms and forests, surrounded by living creatures of all kinds, it’d be hard not to fall in with nature! Even then, people worried about human activities and chemicals damaging the planet, and I always felt I ought to do anything I could to help. But we didn’t really understand about climate change until about the time that I was in university. Unfortunately, the response against switching to renewables for our power supply then was that it would take 20 years to get them up to speed. I wish we had started then, because that was 30 years ago, and we wouldn’t be facing the problems we are now.
What is the Climate Reality Project, and how did you become involved?
The Climate Reality Project is a non-profit organisation dedicated to educating people about the climate change problem – what’s happening, why it’s important, and what we can and must do about it. One of the ways it does this is training volunteers called Climate Reality Leaders all over the world how to educate people around them. The Climate Reality Project was founded by Nobel Laureate Al Gore and was initially sparked by his documentary An Inconvenient Truth. In fact, one of the main tools Climate Reality Leaders use is a slide show that’s based on the documentary.
What was your role in the summit this year?
Climate Reality Leadership Corps training is held about twice a year, rotating all over the world. The event in Brisbane in June was the first one in Australia since Melbourne in 2014 when I was trained as a Climate Reality Leader (along with 499 others!)
So, this time, I’ve had the privilege of acting as a mentor for a group of new trainees. I helped my mentees prepare for the training, facilitated some small group work at the event, and continue to support them in their volunteer work after the training. I also recruited two new Climate Reality Leaders from the Port Macquarie area, increasing our local crew from three to five!
As the guest speaker at CSU recently on The Climate Change, what are three of the areas you covered in your presentation?
The Climate Reality presentation focuses on three questions, “Must we change?”, “Can we change?”, and “Will we change?”. The answer to the first two questions is, of course, a resounding, “Yes!”. The answer to the third question is, “It depends …”. It depends on the choices we make, on every level from our kitchens to our industries and governments.
I helped the audience enter the discussion by talking about the Great Barrier Reef and the impacts of climate change on this Australian icon and World Heritage treasure. I chose the Great Barrier Reef because even though every ecosystem is impacted by climate change and even ecosystems that aren’t as stunningly beautiful and charismatic as the reef can be equally important biologically; the Reef is near and dear to most Australians’ hearts. As a veterinarian, it’s extra dear to my heart, because like in other biologically important ecosystems, the number of animals out there being affected is just staggering.
After reviewing the science behind why climate change is occurring, and why it’s so important and urgent that we take action, the discussion turned to solutions – what solutions are available and how they can be implemented. I hope that everyone left with a sense of the importance and urgency of acting, but also purpose – and most importantly, hope.
What’s next for you?
Obviously, I’m very passionate about this issue and always ready to talk to any group! If any local groups are looking for a guest speaker, I’d be delighted to give a presentation. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0410 010 115.