From The Gazette

Ste. Anne de Bellevue

David Suzuki tells students at John Abbott: We’ve reached critical point in history

  • Dr. David Suzuki address students at John Abbott College in the Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue on Tuesday, Oct. 23. ()
    Dr. David Suzuki address students at John Abbott College in the Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue on Tuesday, Oct. 23. ()
    Photo credit: John Kenney, The Gazette

(This story has been updated.)

Dr. David Suzuki has spoken and the message is grim.

The renowned scientist and environmentalist told a sold-out crowd of 1,600 student and staff at John Abbott College in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Tuesday, that we have reached a critical point in history.

He said that what we do or don’t do in the next years will decide whether we survive as a species.

The lecture was streamed live on the Internet to almost 14,000 students watching at schools in the Lester B. Pearson School Board.

“I consider myself an elder,” Suzuki, 76, said following a blessing by a Mohawk elder. John Abbott College is built on aboriginal land.

“I’m at the end of my life,” Suzuki said. “But what is done now will affect you for the rest of your lives. You have the biggest stake in what’s going on today.”

The author of 52 books, many of them targeting young people, holds 25 honorary degrees and has a broadcast career that spans more than 30 years.

“I tell my fellow elders to get the hell off the golf course and share what they’ve learned,” he said. “Together, elders and young people can create a powerful force.”

Suzuki spoke of the shifting of human priorities, how the laws of nature have been replaced by the laws of the marketplace.

“Attitudes and behaviours must change if vast human misery is to be avoided,” he said. “There are 7 billion people on this planet. That’s a huge ecological footprint — just to keep us alive. Yet a study showed that 97 per cent of teenage girls list shopping as their favourite activity.

“The challenge is to rediscover who we are and to understand that we are utterly dependent on the laws of nature. We need clean water and air to survive. We need healthy soil to grow food.

“We can change the market — it’s a human construct — we sure as hell can’t change the laws of nature.”

Suzuki called for young people to get involved politically, even if they are too young to vote.
“We need their leadership,” he said at a press conference following the lecture and a book signing. “What is hanging in the balance is their future.”

It might appear overwhelming, but Suzuki said even the smallest gesture will have an impact over time, like drops of water that eventually fill a bucket.

Remember to shut off lights, reduce water consumption, recycle and reuse. And try your mightiest not to get seduced by the super-consumer mentality.

“Young people can’t want the next iPad. That’s just not part of the new future. That’s the challenge,” Suzuki said.

And then there’s the fact that their parents and grandparents have left a huge mess to clean up.

“The state my generation and the baby-boomer generation left the planet in for the younger generations is immoral,” Suzuki said. “We partied like there was no tomorrow. Bigger houses, bigger cars, lots and lots of stuff. We never thought about what we would be leaving behind.”

Suzuki blasted the federal government for “refusing to acknowledge that the issue of climate change is important to Canadians.”

He praised the PQ government for closing the Gentilly-2 nuclear plant, extending the moratorium on fracking and cancelling a loan to revive the asbestos industry.

Suzuki’s visit coincided with the opening of John Abbott College’s new Science and Health Technologies building. The building is designed by the Saucier + Perrotte architecture firm and is in the running to be certified LEED gold, which means highly environmentally friendly.

During the early stages of construction, if healthy trees were found to be in the way, they were relocated, not destroyed.

Even the shape of the building’s facade was designed to protect the presence of one, very old Ginkgo tree.
“To do all that for one tree shows a respect for other life forms,” Suzuki said. “I applaud John Abbott for leading the way. But a “green” building shouldn’t be something special. It should be the price of doing business.”

kgreenaway@montrealgazette.com
(Twitter: @greenawaygaz)

 

8 comments

  1. Dear Editor,

    As a biology student at Concordia University I found this article to be common knowledge but is always an outrage to think about. I absolutely agree with David Suzuki and truthfully find the world we live in despicable. The fact alone, that the world is crumbling around us and even when DAVID SUZUKI shows up to your school and desperately tries to appeal to the younger audience, 97% of girls still say shopping is their favorite activity. I mean when will people just wake up and realize we don’t have time! Its time for young people to start accepting responsibility, because those who came before us will be long gone when we face, probably the greatest evolutionary challenge the earth will ever face. Suzuki is right 7 billion and counting, yes if people learned to share and equality was a common goal, it could be feasible, however that is not our planet’s mentality. There are simple ways to make a huge collective difference, recycle, pick up garbage that isn’t yours, turn off your tap, switch bulbs, the information is everywhere. It is definitely the responsibility of young people to become informed, its not longer a choice because the things that are “important” like iPods, won’t be around if there is no planet to live on!

    Ashley Watt

  2. “He said that what we do or don’t do in the next years will decide whether we survive as a species.”
    How are humans going to be killed? The sun is continually adding energy to the planet earth/ the test tube/ the petri dish. We are not going to run out of energy.

    1) Extreme weather so humans can’t grow food. 2) A new deadly virus. 3) Poisoned by radioactive fallout. “Fukushima threatens Global Human Survival” “The ground beneath Unit 4 has sunk by about 31.5 inches already”
    If they can’t keep the radioactive material cool it might explode into the atmosphere. All the mammals die.
    My thoughts on what “we” do.
    We can’t control the weather. We can’t stop the natural way virus develop. We can’t stop radioactive fallout.
    Enjoy what time you have, the other animals on the planet are.

    • have you been living under a rock, or been smokin them pointy cigarettes which make you feel like you are in wonderland where the pink skies are always sunny? TIME TO WAKE UP AND LEARN SOMETHING.

  3. Bravo for David Suzuki – you are sending out the best energy and your message is true.
    We have to work on the north of Canada now to preserve our rights, resources for the future and not let foreign and ccirporate interests dictate how northern Canada and the Arctic are to be used. Same goes for uranium mining in Quebec which the Cree unanimously oppose !!

    John K. Grande

  4. I often get discouraged when I see people who just dont care, it wont happen in there lifetime so why worry about it now, well surprise it will be happening in most of our lifetimes, I know that it is a pain in the ass to clean up somebody elses mess, but we dont have a choice. So instead of taking the time to write stupidities like the one above why dont you get your lazy a** off the couch and go for a walk on garbage day and think to youself, where is all this going. Oh you might want to take off your blinders first, that way your vision wont be stuck on the computer screen allowing you to see what is really going on.

  5. Pingback: Heroes of Sustainability: David Suzuki « Deep Green from Dolphin Blue

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