We can learn a lot from Dr. Suzuki if we only take the time to listen

Marc Lalonde
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Lessons about love, the earth and the biosphere shouldn’t go unheeded

Dr. David Suzuki’s unprecedented visit to John Abbott College last Wednesday was enlightening and endearing. His presentation was equally pessimistic and hopeful – and it gave young environmentalists a roadmap for how to engage a generation of parents and adults that were kids when the global-warming crisis really began some two decades ago. Suzuki lamented the fact a 1992 research document signed by over half the then-living Nobel prize winners got next to no attention from the mainstream media, even though it foretold that unless humanity made serious strides in its relationship with the earth and took steps to mitigate the damage humanity has done to our forests, oceans and atmosphere, we as a species were in grave danger.


Here we are, 20 years later, and humanity’s over-reliance on oil and big-money concerns have conspired to push the environment to the back of our minds – and even though with every passing winter, we are reminded by milder temperatures and smaller snowfalls that global warming is a reality, right-wing claims that climate change is a hoax ring more and more false – and anyone with a brain that is willing to let that brain work can see that we are doing irreversible damage to the biosphere. And even though we are currently the dominant species on the planet, all that can change in the blink of an eye, as it did for the dinosaurs, who once ran things on this rock.

Suzuki’s 76 years old, and as he said, he’d rather be at home with his grandchildren – but it’s their future he wants to ensure as he continues to speak and work well into his eighth decade of life. As he said so eloquently “I’m not worried about the planet. The planet will go on without us. It’s humanity I’m worried about.”

He said it’s up to to today’s young adults to lead the way on the environment. It’s up to them to convince parents with houses and children to change their ways – and they have to want to do it for their kids’ futures.

“I’m not worried about the planet. The planet will go on without us. It’s humanity I’m worried about.” David Suzuki

“That’s how you get to parents,” he said, “through their children.” He encouraged John Abbott students to go out into the world and see the world through the lens of the environment – and make every decision that way.”

Yes, it might be expensive now to implement some of the more important shifts, but if global warming continues unchecked, 20 per cent of the world’s wealth could be the penalty, Suzuki estimated. If the oceans rise but a couple of feet, it could take out a great deal of the commercial coastal cities we’ve built for ourselves all over the world, and that would be truly catastrophic. It’s not just water, either. The atmosphere has deteriorated so badly that even our Prime Minister was a childhood asthmatic, Suzuki pointed out, and even he can’t see the damage Conservative policies are doing to the world we share with everyone else, and no matter how far we get technologically, we won’t be able to replace the work plants and the atmosphere do in creating air for us to breathe. Let’s all think about that, shall we? It’s worth our time.

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