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David Suzuki:

One Man’s Quest

www.davidsuzuki.org
A Review by Patrick Bilder

North Atlantic cyclones. Asian monsoons. South African drought. South American flooding. Each manifestation, though startling and destructive, has historically assumed a common, familiar and nature-borne character in the eyes of the post-industrial scientific community. From the mid 20th century through the present, we observe a climactic perversion that confers, in addition to further unpredictability, unfamiliar and intensified storm ferocity and/or frequency. And yet it appears that these observable patterns, consistent with a “global warming” process, may ultimately prove benign in comparison to environmental trends highlighted in the recent assessment report summary from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control (IPCC), released February, 2007 (www.ipcc.ch/press/prwg2feb07.htm). This current and incisive review, prepared by a large, interdisciplinary panel of leading, international scientists, observes that retreating mountain snow cover, glaciers, and the Antarctic/Greenland ice sheets contribute to a rising sea level through processes ultimately driven by human-generated “greenhouse gases” (GHGs). The solemn forecasts of the IPCC report reveals that the international community, despite a commitment to GHG emissions reductions through mechanisms established by the Kyoto Protocol, must act more efficiently to curb further climate damage.

How best to effect a national, and ultimately international, response under these circumstances is a complex problem that requires reconciliation of economy and environment through carefully conceived political strategy and widespread social reconditioning. With the goal of addressing climate change and related environmental issues from this perspective, Dr. David Suzuki, a Canadian-born geneticist, environmental activist and media personality of international renown, founded a charitable enterprise, the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) in 1990. The DSF, which funds research targeted at resolving Canada-specific environmental concerns, hosts a website (www.davidsuzuki.org) that provides excellent educational resources that provide a solid framework for contemplating both local and global environmental issues. The Suzuki site includes broadly applicable scientific, economic, social, and political background that introduces Canadian environmental topics, presents key headlines and discussion of international environmental news, and details DSF-funded research reports. The DSF studies often provide comparisons with foreign models and concluding recommendations that extrapolate well to more general cases. For example, the UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland are referred as model countries for one or more energy conservational approaches of potential relevance to Canada. Some of the projects include district heating (Denmark, Sweden, Finland), transportation efficiency (UK), and biomass power (Germany). Numerous international comparisons on additional topics including clean drinking water, pesticide usage, and radon exposure standards are found at www.davidsuzuki.org/WOL/Publications.asp .

The strength of Suzuki’s arguments for “Sustainability Within A Generation” arises from careful economic analyses of alternative energy sources, including the prospects of fuel cells for automobiles, tax incentives for replacement of inefficient household appliances or fuel-inefficient company vehicles, and the feasibility of wind and hydroelectric power as alternatives to smog-generating coal for industrial plants. See www.davidsuzuki.org/Economy/.

Beyond specific concerns related to global warming, a substantial discussion of ocean conservation and sustainable fisheries is located www.davidsuzuki.org/Oceans/. In particular, the deleterious environmental consequences of deep ocean trawling, offshore oil drilling, and mismanaged fish farms are considered.

This is but a glimpse of the DSF website. One can choose to take a quick survey of the key topics on the home page (Solving Global Warming, Protecting Human Health, Conserving Our Oceans, Promoting Global Conservation, and Building A Sustainable Economy), which are presented in abridged format, or take a deep foray into individual topics (e.g. David Suzuki’s review of the IPCC third assessment report -see www.davidsuzuki.org/Climate_Change/Science/IPCC/ ) .


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