Dr. David Suzuki

Dr. David Suzuki

Award-Winning Scientist, Environmentalist and Broadcaster

Dr. David Suzuki has made it his life’s work to help humanity understand, appreciate, respect, and protect nature. A scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, he is a gifted interpreter of science and nature who provides audiences with a compelling look at the state of our environment, underscoring both the successes we have achieved in the battle for environmental sustainability, and the strides we still have to make. Both inspiring and realistic, he offers leading-edge insights into sustainable development and a model for a world in which humanity can live well and still protect our environment.

In 1990, Suzuki co-founded, with Dr. Tara Cullis, the David Suzuki Foundation to “collaborate with Canadians from all walks of life including government and business, to conserve our environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through science-based research, education, and policy work.”

Suzuki is familiar to television audiences as host of the CBC science and natural history television series, The Nature of Things, and to radio audiences as the original host of CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks, as well as the acclaimed series It’s a Matter of Survival and From Naked Ape to Superspecies. Suzuki was the recipient of The Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television’s 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Suzuki has been recognized by BC Achievement in partnership with the Lieutenant Governor of BC for his extraordinary work as a recipient of the 2021 BC Reconciliation Award. He is also a Companion to the Order of Canada and a recipient of UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize for science, the United Nations Environment Program medal, the 2012 Inamori Ethics Prize, the 2009 Right Livelihood Award, and UNEP’s Global 500. A Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Suzuki also holds 30 honorary degrees from universities around the world.

Suzuki’s written work includes more than 55 books, 19 of them for children.

The Challenge of the 21st Century: Setting the Bottom Line in the Anthropocene

In the past century, humanity has undergone explosive changes in numbers, science, technology, consumption and economics that have endowed us with the power to alter the biological, physical and chemical properties of the planet.

It is undeniable that the atmosphere and climate are altered; air, water and soil are fouled with toxic pollutants; oceans are depleted; forests are being cleared; and species are disappearing.

Now that most people live in large cities, our relationship with nature is less obvious. Computers and telecommunications fragment information so that we can no longer recognize the interconnectivity of everything in the world. Globalization of the economy renders the entire planet a source of resources and all people a market for products, while local communities and local ecosystems are negatively impacted (for example, large scale pig farms are raised in Canada for an Asian market while the water, air and soil surrounding the hog farms are negatively impacted).

Today science is verifying this ancient wisdom and defines a different set of priorities that should become our bottom-line for the 21st century:

  • We are biological beings with an absolute dependence on clean air, water, soil and sunlight for our well-being and survival.
  • The web of all life on Earth (biodiversity) is responsible for cleansing, replenishing and creating air, water, soil and captured sunlight.
  • Diversity at the genetic, species, ecosystem and cultural level is critical for long-term resilience and adaptability.
  • We are social animals with an absolute need for love to realize our full human potential; maximal opportunity for love is ensured with strong families, communities, full employment, justice, equity, freedom from terror and war.
  • We are spiritual beings who need to know that there are forces that impinge on our lives that lie outside our understanding or control; that nature that gave us birth, will persist after we die; that there are sacred places where humans come with respect and reverence.

Human beings are one species among perhaps 10 to 15 million other species on whom we are ultimately dependent for our well-being. Humanity needs to rediscover humility and our place in the world so that we and the rest of life can continue to flourish.

The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it.  Perspective is shaped by our values, believes and experiences.

What We Can Learn from COVID-19 and Where We Go Now

The COVID-19 crisis has had two enormous and related consequences — it brought much of human activity to a halt and it’s given nature a respite. Both provide an opportunity to reset society’s priorities and head in a different direction.

Confrontation with the reality of a new epidemic has subdued political and economic imperatives to scientific reality. In a time of accusations of fake media, deep conspiracies, and relentless trolls, scientists have regained authoritative prominence, and people have had to confront important questions about purpose, values, opportunities, and constraints in the way we choose to live.

In this exploratory presentation, Dr. David Suzuki touches on some of the stark questions and answers we’ve encountered during this global pandemic, from our impact on the environment and our ability to change it, to our dependence on the human creation called the economy and the unfair treatment of our elders, indigenous people, people experiencing homelessness, etc.

Suzuki puts out a call to action for all of us to rethink our priorities and learn the ultimate lesson in front of us — that nature can be far more forgiving than we deserve. Post-COVID, he says, let’s continue to allow her to recover and learn how to put our efforts into living green and building a society that not only restores Earth’s sustainable productivity, but encourages collaboration and humanity.

This virtual presentation can run up to 60 minutes, including a 30-45-minute keynote, plus Q&A.