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David Suzuki

      . . . scientist & environmentalist. Dr. Suzuki is an acclaimed and award-winning geneticist, environmentalist and the host of the television series, “The Nature of Things.” Dr. Suzuki's many books reach adults as well as children, with whom You are the Earth:  From Dinosaur Breath to Pizza from Dirt is popular. Dr. Suzuki is founder/chair of the David Suzuki Foundation, lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is an adopted member of the Eagle Clan of Canada's First Nations People.

Excerpts3:29 secs

Life on earth will be shaped by our stories, so we'd best find and tell good ones that can guide us away from looming environmental calamities, according to geneticist and environmentalist David Suzuki.  He is busy practicing what he’s preaching. Why? Because humans are story-telling creatures and hope must triumph over fear if we are to solve our enormous problems instead of being paralyzed by them.  

The great good news is that there are stories aplenty -- everyday people everywhere making a difference: reweaving connections we've lost to each other and to other species on whose existence we depend; relearning that everything is connected to everything; acting on the sure knowledge that what we do matters; living the requirement that community be more than a catch-phrase; understanding that the human animal's bottom line is not economic -- it's biological, social and spiritual. It's all in the stories.

Dr. Suzuki's stories are not kids' stuff, they are strong and sometimes difficult. This is his new approach to the hard truths he and others have been telling us for 40 years. Yes, he expects that the denial by the United States government of overwhelming scientific evidence for global warming will be considered a criminal act in 10 year, a crime against us and against all future generations. Yes, the hour is late as we face brutally real environmental challenges.

But where Dr. Suzuki once sounded a dire drumbeat, he now tells stories of rural villages in India rediscovering ancient wisdom that is restoring water supplies. He relishes the stories First Nations/Native American people have told for generations about the coastal temperate rain forest: the trees and salmon require each other to survive in more than an allegorical sense. (It's a tale that has taken on new meaning as ecologists tell their own stories about this ancient truth: no salmon - no forest/no forest - no salmon.)

Other stories tell of how connected we are (geneticists including Dr. Suzuki have demonstrated stunning commonality among all the planet's life forms) and how disconnected we are (frantic parents rushing their terrified asthmatic children to emergency rooms in SUVs, never connecting asthma, polluted air and polluting vehicles.) Stories of cores, corridors and carnivores that are leading to the restoration of enormous ecosystems.  And some of Dr. Suzuki’s stories call us all to his "Nature Challenge" -- simple changes we can each make in transportation, food and housing, changes that significantly lighten our footprint on the planet.

Life, Dr. Suzuki says, is about making sure that our children and grandchildren and their great-grandchildren can have opportunities as rich as we had when we were kids. In the past, he says, nature has been unbelievably forgiving. We now have to give her room if she is to be forgiving again, but the opportunity is still there. Will we succumb to fear and defeatism or learn from stories of working together and with nature? The answers to that question will reverberate through stories that will be told by those who have no choice but to live with the consequences of ours.


This Program was recorded April 5, 2004 in Atlanta, Georgia, US.]

Conversation 1

David Suzuki demonstrates the vitality of stories by telling several to Paula Gordon and Bill Russell. He links environmental and health challenges to individual lifestyle choices and celebrates the power of hope.

Conversation 1 RealAudio6:10 secs

Conversation 2

While the earth’s environmental challenges are enormous and it is “late,” Dr. Suzuki describes why he wrote about what people are doing right and well, around the world. He considers why we have not responded better to clear and dire warning signs, then shares a conversation he recently had with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Dr. Suzuki distinguishes real communities from images on computer monitors, then describes “species-ism” and profound connections among all life forms. He illustrates with salmon’s pivotal role in the coastal rain forest, as understood by First Nations People.

Conversation 1 RealAudio11:23 sec

Conversation 3

Dr. Suzuki traces how economics have shaped the developed and developing world since the end of World War 2, with dire consequences to the environment, then describes new ways of thinking about economics. He draws on his own experience as a geneticist to present powerful examples of how much nature has to teach us. He illustrates with stories about genetic variations, economics, democracy and the power of small organizations. He introduces “ecological economists.”

Conversation 1 RealAudio10:36 sec

Conversation 4

Gross National Product (GNP) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are faulty measures, Dr. Suzuki declares, comparing them to a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) which demonstrates -- contrary to GNP/GDP indicators -- the overall decline in quality of life most people have experienced in recent decades.  Productivity measurements are challenged. Our real “bottom line,” Dr. Suzuki says, is defined by our biological nature.  He reminds that we are animals with powerful social and spiritual needs. He offers a nontraditional concept of reincarnation, then describes how even conservative religions are beginning to understand the destruction of the earth as “sin.”

Conversation 1 RealAudio10:50 sec

Conversation 5

Women have a particularly important role to play in confronting a wide range of environmental challenges, Dr. Suzuki says, with examples which he believes bode well for the future.  He describes “The Nature Challenge,” concrete programs created to show ordinary people how painless individual actions -- changes in transportation, food and housing -- can significantly lighten our footprint on the planet.  Success stories in India represent good news that can be found everywhere, he reports.  He expands on the importance of “cores, corridors and carnivores,” and of beginning to take the future seriously.

Conversation 1 RealAudio12:06 sec

Conversation 6

Using up our children’s and grandchildren’s future is NOT PROGRESS, Dr. Suzuki declares, eager to redefine it. He predicts that in 10 years, the United States government’s denial of the scientific evidence for global warming will be considered a criminal act. Nature has in the past been unbelievably forgiving, he says, confident that if we give her the room, that opportunity still exists.

Conversation 1 RealAudio4:02 sec


Please read David Suzuki’s book: Good News for a Change:  How Everyday People are Helping the Planet. It is full of hope and possibility and inspiration for things that EACH of us can do to Make A Difference in this critical time for life on earth.  Thank you, Dr. Suzuki.

We also want to thank several other people, including Emory University’s Deb Hammacher and Leotis Watson at The Emory Conference Center; Dr. Suzuki’s assistant Elois Yaxley; and Allison Urowitz at Greystone Books.

Related Links:
Both Good News for a Change:  How Everyday People are Helping the Planet, written by Dr. Suzuki and Holly Dressel, and The David Suzuki Reader: A Lifetime of Ideas from a Leading Activist and Thinker (with a forward by Bill McKibben) are published by and available from McIntyre/Greystone Books.
The David Suzuki Foundation has much to offer, convinced as he is that “Solutions are in Our Nature”

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