David Takayoshi Suzuki is a Canadian geneticist, academic, science broadcaster, environmental activist, and widely-recognized world leader in sustainable ecology.
His numerous awards and commendations include: The Companion Order of Canada, UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize for Science, the Right Livelihood Award, a United Nations Environment Programme medal, the recipient of honourary degrees from dozens of universities around the world, and from 1969 to 2001, he was a faculty member at the University of British Columbia – where he is currently professor emeritus.
In 1975, he helped launch and host CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks. Four years later, Suzuki became the well-known host of CBC TV’s The Nature of Things – which still airs new episodes to this day. As well, Suzuki has written or co-authored over fifty books, almost twenty of which are for children.
In 1990, Suzuki co-founded the David Suzuki Foundation – its fundamental truth: we are interconnected with nature and with each other. What we do to the planet and its living creatures, we do to ourselves.
A powerful influence on the environmentalist movement, The David Suzuki Foundation is about conserving and protecting the natural environment and helping to create a sustainable Canada. The Foundation regularly collaborates with businesses, individuals, and all levels of government, as well as non-profit and community organizations.
As many Canadian businesses would quickly learn, David Suzuki is a force to be reckoned with.
Science is Becoming a Verb
An outspoken spokesperson for global climate change, Suzuki has levelled harsh criticism at politicians who fail to act on what Suzuki calls “a very real and pressing problem.” He’s gone so far as to challenge assembled students at McGill University to “see whether there’s a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail because what they’re doing is a criminal act.”
Suzuki has also spoken out about genetically modified food (GMO) (“Any politician or scientist who tells you [GMOs] are safe is either very stupid or lying”); immigration (“Our [Canada’s] immigration policy is disgusting: We plunder southern countries by depriving them of future leaders, and we want to increase our population to support economic growth. It’s crazy!”); and the Canadian justice system, repeating a claim from Canadian media that PM Stephen Harper’s government was building prisons despite declining crime rates in Canada.
The Suzuki Effect
Respected and adored by a vast number of Canadians, Suzuki has not been as warmly received by many of Canada’s largest industries. Of his many environmental accomplishments, Suzuki’s impact on the forestry industry may have been one of the most significant.
In 2010, following years of discussion, forestry industry and environmentalists signed the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, which protects 29 million hectares of Canada’s northern woodland. It was Suzuki’s harsh criticism of the forestry industry – coupled with his stature and public credibility – that finally convinced the industry to do the right (and mutually beneficial) thing.
Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, states, “I think David Suzuki has been our teacher, our friend, our inspiration, our environmental expert and trusted as such for decades.”
We’re All Perched on the Same Blue Marble
If you’ve ever thought, “I can’t make a difference,” or “This doesn’t really affect me anyway,” the David Suzuki Foundation reminds us to take action: “All of us can make a difference. Use your voice, your devices, your lifestyle choices, or your time and talents. The collective action adds up to urgently needed social change.”
To quote the man himself, “When we forget that we are embedded in the natural world, we also forget that what we do to our surroundings we are doing to ourselves.”
Everyone has a stake. Ask yourself how your business can help make a difference in the world around you.
Peter Campbell | Contributing Writer
Photo Credit: CBC