On Oct. 24, University of Saskatchewan students and faculty had the opportunity to hear from one of the world’s most renowned environmental activists, David Suzuki.
The Aboriginal Students’ Centre and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations hosted A Conversation with David Suzuki, a student panel discussion with the two hosting groups and Suzuki.
In a packed room, with people sitting in the aisles and standing at the back, Suzuki wasted no time getting the evening’s talk started. The first thing he spoke of was the current and urgent situation of humanity, which he described as “a very dark time.”
“We are in a global eco-crisis. The reality is that we know that climate change has kicked in and we’re the cause of it,” said Suzuki, who also expressed his disdain for the lack of action from the federal government.
The Canadian government “has done everything it can for the last seven or eight years to absolutely ignore the reality of climate change and it’s disgraceful,” Suzuki said.
He continued to speak about the ecological sacrifice the government is making just to keep the petrodollar and that it is up to everyone to help make a difference.
“You’ve got to be actively involved in telling our government that you don’t like this kind of negligence — criminal negligence,” Suzuki said, attributing the government’s lack of change to the fact that it would be damaging to the economy.
“We elevate the economy above the very atmosphere that sustains us. This is the fundamental challenge … that we’ve got to see the world through a radically different lens from the one that has come to dominate our perspective,” Suzuki said.
“Right now we are dominated by a very, very destructive way of seeing the world … disconnected from the world that sustains us, and we have to rediscover that connection.”
Suzuki said since the agricultural revolution, humanity has changed drastically. With over 80 per cent of the Canadian population living in urban centres, humans are moving further away from our connections with nature and the facts are startling.
“The average child in Canada in a city spends eight minutes a day — eight minutes a day — outside,” Suzuki said. “And over six hours a day in front of [a] television, computer or cell phone.”
He said First Nations people with deep roots and long-standing values maintain themselves as some of the best environmental stewards of Canada’s lands and oceans.
Suzuki then moved to the topic of how our diversity as a species is also becoming a problem when it comes to working together to fight climate change. Modern day priorities have taken presidence over what is really important — the environment.
“We can’t force nature to fit into our agenda. We’ve got to force our institutions to fit what nature dictates as the shape and the limit.”
He spoke about the fossil fuel industry, destroying ecosystems and side-stepping laws in the name of capitalism, ending with an environmental call to arms.
“We’ve got to get no more money spent on exploration, no more subsidy of the fossil fuel industry we’ve got to get massively on to a program of renewable energy and get off oil. It’s as simple as that.”
Suzuki is a geneticist with a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Chicago. Since his education, he has become a widely acclaimed science broadcaster, naturalist and spokesperson on climate change.
Suzuki has written 52 books, was host of the CBC Television science program The Nature of Things and is a co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. He said the goal of the foundation is “to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that sustains us.”
Photos: Mr. Fink’s Finest Photos/Flickr