Seven (Real) Questions for David Suzuki
The Winnipeg Free Press newspaper ran a story yesterday titled “Seven Questions for David Suzuki.” These were softball queries and the answers were predictably lame. For example, when asked:
So who is going to save the world? Who is your eco-hero right now?
Suzuki bizarrely cited Silent Spring author Rachel Carson, who has been dead for 46 years.
In the climate change debate, Suzuki is Canada’s Al Gore. Except that everyone in the US has clarity that Al Gore is a politician who’s trying to sell a political vision. Suzuki, on the other hand, is a geneticist whose specialty is fruit flies. Nevertheless, he has successfully transformed himself from someone with that narrow scientific expertise into a media commentator who is now considered “Canada’s foremost environmental conscience.”
Over the years, Suzuki has earned portions of his income from our publicly-funded television station, as well our publicly-funded radio station. He has written columns for a range of newspapers on a range of topics. This summer he penned an article about blueberries for The Globe and Mail which declared:
In fact there is nothing quite like taking a walk through fragrant woods and finding a sunlit patch laden with lovely dark fruit that the bears have left for us. [italics added]
This sort of romantic, anthropomorphization hardly befits a scientist in their seventies. Bears are not kindly souls who thoughtfully leave berries for humans the way little Mary sets out cookies for Santa Claus. When humans encounter bears in the wild, their very real teeth, claws, and strength often lead to horrifying consequences.
Yet Suzuki’s insistence that the natural world is benign and that humans are “the deadliest predator in the history of life on Earth” has gone virtually unchallenged in this country for nearly four decades.
Here, therefore, are my seven questions for David Suzuki (number 4 has two parts):
1. You think there are too many human beings, that our numbers over-burden planet Earth. Why, then, did you yourself father five children?
2. Twenty years ago, in It’s a Matter of Survival, you said we had fewer than 10 years to radically change our ways. If we didn’t, you said “civilization as we know it will cease to exist.” How come we’re still here?
3. In that same book you said the forests which then covered a third of Germany would disappear by early this century due to acid rain. Are you aware that one third of Germany continues to be covered by forest?
4. Your 1997 book, The Sacred Balance, says that pre-industrial human beings “constructed a way of life that was truly ecologically sustainable, fulfilling and just” (page 12). First, how do you know this? Second, are you aware that, as late as 1762, Jean-Jacques Rousseau considered it Nature’s law that half of all children would die before their eighth birthday? Does that kind of life sound fulfilling to you?
5. Given that you once served on the board of directors of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, do you really think elected officials should be jailed for decisions that you, a non-elected person, disapprove of?
6. Given that your scientific expertise is in fruit flies what makes you a climate change expert?
Below are the Winnipeg Free Press‘ seven questions. Regarding numbers 5 and 6, Winnipeg winters are so brutal that one of that city’s nicknames is Winterpeg.
- You’re 74. You have three books out this year and a zillion speaking dates, plus your foundation, your media appearances, and more. Most people at your age are thinking a Club Med sounds pretty good. Where do you get your energy from?
- So who is going to save the world? Who is your eco-hero right now?
- On that note… you once said that what some leaders are doing to the environment is a “criminal act.” Who are the eco-villains?
- Barack Obama’s been talking about moving towards a green technology economy. So there is a way to marry the two.
- Winnipeggers often joke that we’re looking forward to global warming. You know our winters. Want to dash our hopes that we’ll be relaxing on tropical beaches in 20 years?
- So what you’re saying is, no tropical beaches for us.
- In your new book Legacy, you reflect on the global changes you’ve seen in your lifetime. If you took a time machine back 50 years ago to tell your younger self about the present… what would have shocked you the most about what our species is up to?