Author David Suzuki

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

U.S. climate report leaves little room for doubt

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It seems odd that a major U.S. government climate report released November 3 didn’t receive more media attention. But then, the main thing newsworthy about the Climate Science Special Report is that it was released at all, apparently without political interference. Although the U.S. government is required by law (enacted by President George H.W. Bush in 1989) to report to the public about “climate change and its physical impacts” every four years, the current administration is openly hostile to climate science and scientists. According to White House sources quoted in the New York Times, President Donald Trump was “barely aware…

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Oil spills pose unacceptable threats to marine life

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says oil pipelines have no place in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest. Opponents of the approved Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion to the West Coast and the cancelled Energy East pipeline to the East Coast argue pipelines and tankers don’t belong in any coastal areas. Research led by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation confirms the threat to marine mammals in B.C. waters from a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic is considerable. After examining potential impacts of a 15,000-cubic-metre oil spill in B.C. waters on 21 marine mammals, researchers concluded most individuals would be at risk and a few local…

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It’s time to nix neonics

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The Canadian government is banning plastic microbeads in toiletries. Although designed to clean us, they’re polluting the environment, putting the health of fish, wildlife and people at risk. Manufacturers and consumers ushered plastic microbeads into the marketplace, but when we learned of their dangers, we moved to phase them out. Why, then, is it taking so long to phase out the world’s most widely used insecticides, neonicotinoids? Scientists have proven they’re harming not only the pests they’re designed to kill, but also a long list of non-target species, including pollinators we rely on globally for about one-third of food crops.…

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Bye-bye, bug splatter: Is this the new silent spring?

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Masses of monarch butterflies fluttering across Toronto’s waterfront. Painted ladies (often mistaken for monarchs) descending on Montreal. Combined with the hottest September ever recorded in the Great Lakes region, it’s been a strange time in Eastern Canada. We should savour the joys of these captivating critters while we can, because their future — and that of insects generally — is uncertain. Many Ontarians noticed this year’s unexpected monarch bounty. It’s difficult to determine population size during migration, but after two decades of fewer and fewer sightings, the number of monarchs this summer has been astounding. Hundreds of thousands are now…

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Environmentalism is a way of being, not a discipline

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I’m often introduced as an environmentalist. I prefer to be called a father, grandfather, scientist or author, as these terms provide insight into my motivation. Environmentalism isn’t a discipline or specialty like law, medicine, plumbing, music or art. It’s a way of seeing our place in the world and recognizing that our survival, health and happiness are inextricably dependent on nature. To confront today’s environmental crises, everyone — garage mechanics, construction workers, dentists, politicians and judges — has to see the world through an environmental lens. I recently attended an event with a panel of outstanding athletes and artists who…

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CO2 and food: We can’t sacrifice quality for quantity

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Bigger isn’t always better. Too much of a good thing can be bad. Many anti-environmentalists throw these simple truths to the wind, along with caution. You can see it in the deceitful realm of climate change denial. It’s difficult to keep up with the constantly shifting — and debunked — denier arguments, but one common thread promoted by the likes of the Heartland Institute in the U.S. and its Canadian affiliate, the misnamed International Climate Science Coalition, illustrates the point. They claim carbon dioxide is good for plants, and plants are good for people, so we should aim to pump…

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Can emissions shrink while the economy grows?

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What does climate change have to do with economic growth? Canada’s prime minister and premiers signed a deal in December to “grow our economy, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and build resilience to the impacts of a changing climate.” The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change outlines plans for carbon pricing, energy-efficient building codes, electric vehicle charging stations, methane emission regulations and more. Is the framework correct in assuming we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and grow the economy? If not, which should be given precedence? These questions come at a pivotal moment in Canadian climate action. The…

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Nature offers solutions to water woes and flood risks

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When the Aztecs founded Tenochtitlán in 1325, they built it on a large island on Lake Texcoco. Its eventual 200,000-plus inhabitants relied on canals, levees, dikes, floating gardens, aqueducts and bridges for defence, transportation, flood control, drinking water and food. After the Spaniards conquered the city in 1521, they drained the lake and built Mexico City over it. The now-sprawling metropolis, with 100 times the number of inhabitants as Tenochtitlán at its peak, is fascinating, with lively culture, complex history and diverse architecture. It’s also a mess. Water shortages, water contamination and wastewater issues add to the complications of crime,…

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Study finds Exxon misled the public by withholding climate knowledge

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Coal, oil and gas are tremendous resources: solar energy absorbed by plants and super-concentrated over millions of years. They’re potent fuels and provide ingredients for valuable products. But the oil boom, spurred by improved drilling technology, came at the wrong time. Profits were (and still are) the priority — rather than finding the best, most efficient uses for finite resources. In North America, governments and corporations facilitated infrastructure to get people to use oil and gas as if they were limitless. Companies like Ford built cars bigger than necessary, and although early models ran on ethanol, the oil boom made…

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When times get dark, we must shine brighter

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Are we entering a new Dark Age? Lately it seems so. News reports are enough to make anyone want to crawl into bed and hide under the covers. But it’s time to rise and shine. To resolve the crises humanity faces, good people must come together. It’s one lesson from Charlottesville, Virginia. It would be easy to dismiss the handful of heavily armed, polo-shirted, tiki-torch terrorists who recently marched there if they weren’t so dangerous and representative of a disturbing trend that the current U.S. president and his administration have emboldened. Racism, hatred and ignorance aren’t uniquely American. Fanatics acting…

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