Volume 92, Issue 53

Tuesday, December 8, 1998



A recipe for what ails society

Dipesh Mistry/Gazette
WAIT UNTIL I SPEAK, THEY'LL BE EVEN MORE IMPRESSED. Enviro guy David Suzuki was talkin' trash and other environmental problems last night at Althouse College.

By Paul-Mark Rendon

Gazette Staff

A sold out Althouse College auditorium was the stage for one of Canada's most famous personalities, as David Suzuki paid a visit to Western yesterday to speak about his new book Earth Time.

Suzuki began his lecture by reminiscing about London. "I'm very happy to return to London. This is where my parents lived for many years and I always look back on London as my hometown," he said.

Giving local examples of his quest to better the environment, Suzuki spoke fondly of his childhood. "It grieves me when I tell people about fishing in the Thames [River] and they recoil at the thought of eating anything that could come from the river," he said.

"The sum total of what is happening today is that we are trashing the future. We have narrow windows that frame how we see the world in our vested interests," Suzuki said.

Suzuki noted examples of how increases in population threaten the current world order. "In my lifetime, the population has tripled," he said.

This enormous capacity to shape and change the world has led society to cast a blind eye on what Suzuki deemed the most important factor in the survival of the human race. "When we are disconnected from the services we receive, we forget that those services come from the earth," he warned.

Suzuki strongly criticized current governments for placing economic issues ahead of environmental ones. "It's the earth that makes economics possible," he said.

He made clear his opinion of the government, saying it only passes environmental legislation if it knows it can escape criticism for any future shortcomings. "We have elected an absolutely reprehensible government in Ontario," he said.

His less-than-friendly view of economists became more and more visible as he attacked self-interest, attributing it as the base of economics. "Conventional economics is a form of brain damage," he said.

Suzuki rebuked the economic notion that economies can have steady growth forever. "The only two systems that believe in growth forever are cancer cells and economists."

At the heart of Suzuki's argument was the notion that society's priorities are incorrect. "We have forgotten the most important truth – we're animals and without the environment, we will die. We must recognize what a destructive being we've become," he warned.

He also commented on how society has becomed crazed with consumerism and advocated events such as Buy Nothing Day, which was recently an issue on Western's campus. "They're having a hell of a time getting anyone to do it. When I was a kid, we had it once a week – it was called 'Sunday.'"

Ian Armour, University Students' Council president, said he was very interested in hearing Suzuki speak. "When I saw he was coming, it was something I wanted to check out. I thought it was a fantastic speech. He made a good point – we have to start at the grassroots level," he said.

London resident Susan McIntyre was also pleased by Suzuki's lecture. "It was very informative. I learned a lot tonight," she said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998