Author David Suzuki

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

Large dams fail on climate change and Indigenous rights

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Brazil has flooded large swaths of the Amazon for hydro dams, despite opposition from Indigenous Peoples, environmentalists and others. The country gets 70 per cent of its electricity from hydropower. Brazil’s government had plans to expand development, opening half the Amazon basin to hydro. But a surprising announcement could halt that. In an interview with O Globo, Mines and Energy Executive Secretary Paulo Pedrosa said the government is reconsidering hydro construction in the face of societal pressure, environmental damage and increasingly competitive renewable energy options. We can see parallels in Canada, where large hydro projects have been pushed through despite similar…

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Consumer society no longer serves our needs

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My parents were born in Vancouver — Dad in 1909, Mom in 1911 — and married during the Great Depression. It was a difficult time that shaped their values and outlook, which they drummed into my sisters and me. “Save some for tomorrow,” they often scolded. “Share; don’t be greedy.” “Help others when they need it because one day you might need to ask for their help.” “Live within your means.” Their most important was, “You must work hard for the necessities in life, but don’t run after money as if having fancy clothes or big cars make you a…

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We ignore urgent global warnings at our peril

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A year ago, we revisited the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity.” Signed by a majority of Nobel laureates in sciences at the time and more than 1,700 leading scientists worldwide, the document warned, “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.” It called for a new ethic that encompasses our responsibility to ourselves and nature and that recognizes our dependence on Earth and its natural systems. It also called for stabilizing human population through “improved social and economic conditions, and the adoption of effective, voluntary family planning.” Now, 25 years later, we’ve added two billion people,…

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Don’t blame God or nature. We’re the culprits

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Traditionally, we’ve labelled events over which we have no influence or control “acts of God” or “natural disasters.” But what’s “natural” about climate-induced disasters today? Scientists call the interval since the Industrial Revolution the “Anthropocene,” a period when our species hasbecome the major factor altering the biological, physical and chemical properties of the planet on a geological scale. Empowered by fossil fuel–driven technologies, a rapidly growing human population and an insatiable demand for constant growth in consumption and the global economy, our species is responsible for the calamitous consequences. We now know that the weight of water behind large dams…

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Renewable energy isn’t perfect, but it’s far better than fossil fuels

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In their efforts to discredit renewable energy and support continued fossil fuel burning, many anti-environmentalists have circulated a dual image purporting to compare a lithium mine with an oilsands operation. It illustrates the level of dishonesty to which some will stoop to keep us on our current polluting, climate-disrupting path (although in some cases it could be ignorance). The image is a poor attempt to prove that lithium batteries and renewable energy are worse for the environment than energy from oilsands bitumen. The first problem is that the “lithium mine” is actually BHP Billiton’s Escondida copper mine in Chile (the…

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Corporate influence inflames political cynicism

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In 1952, my Grade 10 civics teacher asked us what we hoped to become as adults. One of the most popular boys answered, “I hope to go into politics.” We were delighted because we knew he wanted to make the world and Canada better, and we admired him for it. Things have changed in half a century. In 1992, my daughter Severn, then 12, created a minor sensation with a speech at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, upbraiding delegates for not protecting the future for children. “You grown-ups say you love us, but please, make your actions reflect your…

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Site C exposes economic folly of flooding farmland

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As many countries move away from big hydro projects, B.C.’s government must decide whether to continue work on the Site C dam. The controversial megaproject would flood a 100-kilometre stretch of the Peace River Valley and provide enough power for the equivalent of about 500,000 homes. The BC Utilities Commission, an independent body responsible for ensuring British Columbians pay fair energy rates, found the dam is likely behind schedule and over budget, with completion costs estimated at more than $10 billion. In a “high impact” scenario, it may go over budget by as much as 50 per cent. The dam…

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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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