TV host Suzuki talks
about the environment


Noted scientist David Suzuki, host of the acclaimed television documentary series "The Nature of Things," discussed the factors that are endangering the environment September 29 during a Voices of Discovery lecture and presented a plan to enhance environmental sustainability.

Suzuki told his Elon audience he cannot take his grandchildren fishing in the Vancouver streams where he fished as a child "because there aren't any fish left." Extinction of various species on the planet, although natural to some degree, is accelerating at an alarming rate.

"Americans have always been fond of saying there's plenty more where that came from," Suzuki said. "Well, there ain't more where that came from. It's gone."

The scientist said the world's rapid population and economic growth has caused whole societies to lose their "world view," the concept that everything on Earth is connected to everything else. He said this point has been magnified for him over the past 20 years because he has lived with indigenous peoples such as American Indians from time to time.

"Many of these societies literally view the Earth as their mother," Suzuki said. "They understand that everything they have comes from the Earth and is related in some way. Many of us have lost that along the way. We don't consider the impact the things we buy have on the environment. Until we understand that we are the Earth, we will not understand that we are all interrelated."

The majority of people alive today were born after 1950, when rapid economic growth became the norm, Suzuki said.

"These people have spent their time in an unprecedented and unsustainable environment," he explained. "If they want something, they go to the store and buy it. They don't think about the consequences of what they're buying. We don't know any different."

Suzuki said the wealth of information available to people today, through the Internet and other forms of media, is both good and bad. He cited the insistence by some that global warming is not happening. "Make no mistake, global warming is happening," he said. "We live in an age where we are overwhelmed with information. People can find a book or a Web site to support anything."

He also decried the world's economic system, saying it makes no allowances for the environment. "Economics is not a science," Suzuki said. "Economics is a set of values posing as a science. (Economists) render the real world we live in an externality."

Suzuki, who lives and works in Canada, is advancing a cause he hopes can bring environmental sustainability within a decade. "These are things people can do now, decisions they can make about their lifestyle and the products they buy," he said. "We must establish a vision and work together to achieve that."

Suzuki has made science relevant and meaningful for the masses through his award-winning work in broadcasting. He became host of "The Nature of Things with David Suzuki" on CBC television in 1979, winning four Gemini Awards as best host of a Canadian television series. His David Suzuki Foundation, founded in 1990, uses science and education to "protect the balance of nature and our quality of life, now and for future generations." Its projects focus on climate change, energy needs and the promotion of sustainable use of forests, wild lands, oceans and fisheries.

The Voices of Discovery science speaker series, sponsored by Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, invites noted scholars in science and mathematics to share their knowledge and experience with students.



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Last Modified:  10/01/04
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