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David Suzuki: Scientist, Celebrity, and Force for Change
Who is David Suzuki?
A Brilliant Scientist and Outspoken Activist
David Takayoshi Suzuki was born March 24, 1936, in Vancouver BC, Canada. His early life was full of hardships that many other Japanese-Canadians experienced, including being forced into an internment camp with his family during World War II. Despite difficult beginnings, Suzuki worked hard and by 1961 had received his doctorate in zoology from the University of Chicago.
A Career in Broadcasting
In 1970 Suzuki's television career began with the children's show Suzuki on Science. His other early shows include Quirks and Quarks and Science Magazine. In 1979 Suzuki began broadcasting his most well known show, The Nature of Things, a CBC production which aims to engage people in nature and address the environmental issues we all face. The show has been broadcast in 50 countries around the world, and gave Suzuki an international following.
Suzuki's recent projects include the 1993 PBS miniseries The Secret of Life and his 1997 book A Sacred Balance. His book was late made into a five hour miniseries which aired on CBC television in 2002.
Most Passionate About...
A Headstrong Voice for Climate Change
David Suzuki is by far most passionate about the negative effects global warming will have on our planet if not reversed. He has even gone so far as to encourage students to find a way to "jail" their leaders for their criminal actions in ignoring science and the environmental repercussions of human activity on the earth. Suzuki is extremely outspoken against most major corporations and accuses scientists who deny global warming of being corporate "shills". Certainly he is a man unafraid to speak his mind in order to bring about change.
David Suzuki's Charities
The David Suzuki Foundation
The David Suzuki Foundation was formed in 1990 to combat growing negative environmental trends in Canada, and all around the world. The foundation focuses on five governing problems: solving global warming, protecting human health, conserving our oceans, promoting global conservation, and building a sustainable economy.
Solving Global Warming
Global warming is one of Suzuki's most passionate topics, and he freely speaks against Canada's current government which cut almost all climate change funding. The Kyoto Protocol of 2005 set goals internationally for countries to reduce their carbon emissions, but Canada has completely disregarded those goals and skyrocketed their emissions 24% since 1990. Suzuki aims to change this by alerting the public to the problem and working on solutions that everyday people can implement.
Protecting Human Health
Another issue that the Suzuki foundation addresses is the overwhelming presence of toxins in our foods and everyday products. With consumer alerts the website tells Canadians what products contain harmful toxins, and gives options for other products. The site also acts as a place where people can come together to lobby against certain harmful chemicals that are included in everyday products like cosmetics.
Conserving Our Oceans
Recently the Canadian government has considered lifting the offshore drilling ban in Canada, a decision which Suzuki and others like him plan to stand against. The foundation also urges fisheries to practice sustainable fishing and to protect wild salmon.
Promoting Global Conservation
The Suzuki foundation also aims to reduce the number of endangered species worldwide, and to halt extinction in its tracks. This part of the foundation wants people to lobby for stricter endangered species laws and mandatory conservation plans. Suzuki sees conservation as crucial in the effort to reduce greenhouse gasses through the oxygen-making power of trees.
Building a Sustainable Economy
Finally, Suzuki's foundation also focuses on sustainable business practices. In fact, the foundation does not really receive funding from corporations because Suzuki does not believe in most modern business practices. He supports fiscal reforms and buying carbon offsets for businesses, and is urging Canada to adopt green business laws like Germany, the U.K., and Sweden.
How David Suzuki Practices What He Preaches
Buying Carbon Offsets and More
The Suzuki Foundation believes in clean business, and as such runs a "carbon neutral" office, which purchases carbon offsets to balance out any emission producing activities. Recently David Suzuki derided the fact that he has to travel so much, even though when he does travel he is wise and cautious about it. he always clusters his events so as to minimize his travel, and recently he used a bio-diesel powered bus to travel across Canada for speaking obligations. His ultimate dream though is to appear solely by video conference, so as to negate any carbon emissions from travel.
David Suzuki, outspoken and intelligent, is truly a force for change both in Canada and worldwide.