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Suzuki at a climate change rally
Photo By: Clayoquot (CCo 1.0)

 

March 24 1936, marks the day that Canada’s greatest modern environmentalist David Suzuki was born. Now at the age of 80, Suzuki can reflect back on his lifetime and all of the accomplishments and failures throughout. David’s early childhood was marred by the internment of Japanese families during World War II, in which the Canadian government sold his family’s laundromat business and sent his father off to work in a different camp. The family would only be reunited again after the end of war in 1945. It was Suzuki’s father who initially instilled in him a love for nature – a love that would eventually drive him to heavily advocate for environmental rights. Suzuki would go on to pursue his B.A in biology from Amherst College and later his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Chicago.

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Suzuki posing with a Grayling that he caught.
Photo By: www.protectpeel.ca (CCo 1.0)

 

In his early academic career he focused on the genetics of fruit flies for which he remains widely recognized to this day. Suzuki rose to become a well-respected academic in his field and continued to educate younger academics as a professor in the genetics department of UBC for forty years. However, Suzuki wanted to do more than just teach science to students in universities; he wanted to open up the scientific sphere and make it accessible to the general public as well. He firmly believed that in educating the public on science it would lead to better science-based policies in the government. Through his work on the creation of the science-related CBC radio program “Quirks and Quarks” and his hosting of the popular “The Nature of Things,” it’s safe to say that Suzuki has been more than successful in increasing the public’s awareness of science. Due to his appearances as a broadcaster and his unique personality (Suzuki is known to be quite outspoken), Suzuki quickly rose to fame in the public eye as well. He would later go on to use this fame and his already-established platforms as a means to communicate the dangers of climate change to the general populace.

One of Suzuki’s largest contributions to the world was co-founding the David Suzuki Foundation. The foundation’s main goals include: protecting our climate through the research of clean energy, helping to create liveable communities through the promotion of green-space, establishing environmental rights, and transforming our economy through sustainable development. The foundation has led many international projects such as protecting salmon in Japan, and researching a dam project in Australia. Efforts were then focused on projects within Canada. These projects worked on fisheries, forestry, and sustainability. However, the main focus of the foundation has been climate change. Their greatest achievement was the successful lobby for the Canadian government to sign the Kyoto Accord (which unfortunately we later backed out of). Despite many setbacks, the foundation continues to work tirelessly to spread the word of climate change and improve the environment for future generations.

To this day, David Suzuki remains a household name. Before researching further, we only knew him as a man who talked about climate change. Initially, Braden’s interest in Suzuki arose from watching Suzuki participate in a psychology debate against John Phillipe Rushton. Suzuki definitely is not a psychologist, however in Braden’s opinion, he  had the stronger argument because he was able to debunk Rushton’s theory.

We have also had an interest in him because of the controversy surrounding him. He has made negative torts towards Canada’s immigration policy, and stated that Canada “is full”. His work against salmon fisheries has also cost many Canadian jobs and revenue generation – which has received negative feedback. At the end of his life, Suzuki simply wants his epitaph to read that “I did do my best, and that’s all anybody can do.” He, like many of us, simply wants to leave behind a better world for his children and grandchildren. His work on climate change has forever altered the way that Canadians view the environment, and has made us aware of the impact of our consumerist society. Despite the sometimes-controversial nature of his climate change advocacy, ultimately we firmly believe that Suzuki’s actions will help propel Canada in the right direction. However, we invite our readers to decide for themselves…

To help form your own opinion of the man, click these fun and exciting links:

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David Suzuki speaking at the Blue Dot tour in Vancouver
Photo By: Kris Krüg (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)