Author David Suzuki

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

March for science, march for Earth Day, march for humanity!

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Science isn’t everything. But it is crucial to governing, decision-making, protecting human health and the environment and resolving questions and challenges around our existence. Those determined to advance industrial interests over all else often attack science. We’ve seen it in Canada, with a decade of cuts to research funding and scientific programs, muzzling of government scientists and rejection of evidence regarding issues such as climate change. We’re seeing worse in the Unites States. The new administration is proposing drastic cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and others. Information about climate…

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Citizen science and genetic testing yield positive results

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Since I started working as a geneticist in the early 1960s, the field has changed considerably. James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins won the 1962 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. Researchers then “cracked” the genetic code, which held promise for fields like health and medicine. It was an exciting time to be working in the lab. More than 40 years later, in 2003, an international group of scientists sequenced the entire human genetic code. Researchers can now find a gene suspected to cause a disease in a matter…

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Marine protected areas are one piece of a complex puzzle

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The federal government recently created two marine protected areas in the Pacific region and has committed to increase ocean protection from one per cent to 10 by 2020. But will this be enough? Canada has the longest coastline of any nation, but our country doesn’t end at its ocean shores. With a 200-nautical-mile economic zone and international obligations, Canada is responsible for almost three million square kilometres of ocean, an area roughly the size of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba combined.  Although that’s a big area, thinking of the ocean in square kilometres is just skimming the surface. The…

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Welcome to the 21st century: Brighter times or a new Dark Age?

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If you own a smartphone, you have more computing power at your fingertips than NASA scientists had when they put people on the moon in 1969! And it’s in a small device, unlike the massive hardware the space agency used. Technology moves in leaps and bounds. As someone who grew up before home computers, transoceanic phone lines, jet planes, satellites, organ transplants, birth control pills, photocopiers, hand-held calculators or cellphones, I’m amazed at how quickly technological innovation is occurring and by its profound effects on society. Every day, products are becoming smaller, faster, more efficient and accessible to a greater…

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Facts and evidence matter in confronting climate crisis

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We recently highlighted the faulty logic of a pseudoscientific argument against addressing climate change: the proposition that because CO2 is necessary for plants, increasing emissions is good for the planet and the life it supports. Those who read, write or talk regularly about climate change and ecology are familiar with other anti-environmental arguments not coated with a scientific sheen. A common one is that if you drive a car, buy any plastic goods or even type on a computer keyboard your observation that we need to reduce fossil fuel use is not valid — no matter how much evidence you…

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Intact wilderness is a hedge against our ignorance

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In 2011, I travelled with my family down Yukon’s Hart River. It’s one of seven pure rivers in the Peel River watershed, a 68,000-square-kilometre wilderness that’s been at the centre of a legal dispute for many years and a land-use planning debate for more than a decade. For two weeks, we fished from the river’s vibrant green waters and gazed at the limestone and dolostone peaks of the Ogilvie Mountains. Most Canadians have never been to the North, much less the remote Peel watershed, but many are enchanted by it, nourished even by the idea that we still have vast,…

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Faulty logic fuels fossil fools

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Apparently, fossil fuel companies protect watersheds and rivers by removing oil. That’s according to comments on the David Suzuki Foundation Facebook page and elsewhere, including this: “The amount of contamination occuring [sic] from extraction is far less than if we just left the oil there to continue polluting the waterways.” The “logic” of climate change deniers and anti-environmentalists is often baffling. Although the person who posted that comment doesn’t appear to claim professional background or knowledge, Canadian anti-environmentalist Patrick Moore — who capitalizes on his science degree and long-ago association with Greenpeace to shill for polluting industries — told the…

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Greatness comes from moving forward, not backward

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The battle lines are drawn — in some cases literally. On one side are those reaping massive profits from fossil fuels, determined to extract and sell as much as possible before the market dries up. On the other are those who see the amazing potential of energy conservation, renewable energy and other innovations to reduce pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, ecosystem destruction and exploitation of valuable non-renewable resources. Despite international initiatives like the 2015 Paris Agreement, based on decades of research and evidence from around the world about human-caused global warming, those who would risk human health and survival for short-term…

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Government must do more to address First Nations’ water woes

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Neskantaga First Nation in Ontario has had to boil water since 1995. “We’re over 20 years already where our people haven’t been able to get the water they need to drink from their taps or to bathe themselves without getting any rashes,” Neskantaga Chief Wayne Moonias told CBC News in 2015. Their water issues have yet to be resolved. They’re not alone. In fall last year, 156 drinking water advisories were in place in First Nations in Canada. More than 100 are routinely in effect — some for years or decades. According to a 2015 CBC investigation, “Two-thirds of all First…

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Understanding climate change means reading beyond headlines

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Seeing terms like “post-truth” and “alternative facts” gain traction in the news convinces me that politicians, media workers and readers could benefit from a refresher course in how science helps us understand the world. Reporting on science is difficult at the best of times. Trying to communicate complex ideas and distil entire studies into eye-catching headlines and brief stories can open the door to misinformation and limited understanding. Recent headlines about a climate study, “Shifting patterns of mild weather in response to projected radiative forcing”, in the February 2017 issue of Climatic Change illustrate the predicament. Some news outlets implied…

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