Hey everyone, sorry this should have been posted earlier that Thursday night, I went to David Suzuki’s talk at the Chan Center. He asked the question, The Environmental Crises: Is It too Late? Right off the bat, he answers “no, it’s never too late, even at the final hour, but it is very late indeed.” He started by illustrating the pressing problems in the world today: the exploding world population, Oceanic Deadzones, and deforestation. Very well worded and powerful, it’s the kind of talk one would expect from Canada’s preeminent environmentalist.
However, halfway through the speech, Suzuki took a turn towards the unexpected. He lambasted the Harper government for ignoring the pressing concerns facing the environment. “Harper tells us that because Canada is a northern country, the economy will suffer if we cut back on energy emissions. This is a fallacy, because Sweden managed to cut back over seven percent of their energy emissions, and their economy went up! Your prime minister is lying to you!” Taking the turn for the political was certainly not what I had in mind, but he argued his points very well, and really made me question the conservative government’s knowledge on such an important issue.
And then Suzuki became philosophical. He questioned why we deify the economy: “Economy and Ecology come from the same root– Ecos, study of the house and home. They are interrelated, so why do we place the economy with such great and commanding importance?” He said that the obsession with a growing economy year by year is not possible anymore; and that creating an economy larger than the early 2000s would damage the environment beyond repair. In the same vein, he encouraged the Occupy movement, saying that “there’s something wrong with our current system. The politicians are sponsored by big businesses, and only have them in mind and this surreal sense of the word economy. A country where forty percent of its citizens don’t vote is not a democracy.” Now, David Suzuki became a revolutionary figure: standing there in front of a sold out audience at the Chan Center, his voice rising in passion while the sounds of applause and cheers reverberated around him, it felt like I got a glimpse of how change happens. This was not the talk I’d expected to see.
Yet in the final portions of his speech, Suzuki turned his most humble. He became David the man. He told of his father, and how on his death bed fifteen years ago, they laughed and cried about all the great memories they’d had together. “Those were the happiest times with my father. Did we ever once talk about that full wardrobe of clothes, or fancy car he once bought? No, that was all immaterial in the end.” In his most intimate, Suzuki became the most moving. “Those were the important times.” Ending his speech, he recieved riotous applause that lasted for well over three minutes, until he had to ask people to sit down.
I was significantly moved by the speech. I’d come in there expecting to here a sermon about how we need to stop environmental destruction, and left feeling empowered. It made me realize why I supported the Occupy Movement initially: something needs to change, and it showed a unifying support system desiring to make a peaceful move towards the better. However, when I actually went to Occupy, it felt unorganized and lacking in purpose. Suzuki seemed to grasp a purpose, and if he’d been just slightly younger, I could see him being exactly the leader Occupy needs.
So, to anyone else who attended the talk, what did you think? What did you come away with in the unexpected yet invigorating talk?