By Stephanie Philpott and Grace To
David Suzuki stepped out onto the stage on Thursday night to energize a packed audience at Alumni Hall. He began with a simple reminder: that the land we sat upon was the land of Indigenous people, who cultivated it, cared for it, and have much to teach the world on these principles.
“What we do or do not do in the next few years is what determines the chances of the survival of our species,” said Suzuki. “To those who tell people it’s too late … shut the hell up and go away… we are going to fight to the end [because] we don’t know enough to say it’s too late.”
Suzuki’s one hour talk was inspiring. He emphasized the importance of distinguishing between humanities needs and wants on Earth, making the audience re-evaluate the way in which we live. To this effect, he spoke towards the disposability culture that mainstream society has adopted by relating it our consumption of resources through fast fashion trends.
“We pay hundreds of dollars to buy blue jeans already ripped,” exclaimed Suzuki. “It doesn’t make sense to me!”
Suzuki’s talk progressed to acknowledge the speed at which technology has developed over his lifetime and the impact it has had on our way of living as well as our rate of consumption.
According to Suzuki, the four forces that are driving environmental change are: overpopulation, technological advancements, consumption demands, and expansion of the global economy. However, he declares that the “root cause of the ecological crisis we face is the human mind”.
“The brain is not a passive organ,” continued Suzuki. “Ideas are filtered through the value and belief system in our mind.”
He explained to the crowd that we have lost sight of what we are as a species, posing questions such as “Is another species a biological kin or just a resource?” and reminding the audience that “You and I are animals”.
Suzuki drew connections to the Indigenous people, explaining that their views of the Earth differ vastly from those of corporations and companies. To change our relationship with the planet, Suzuki thinks that we must “indigenize our minds” and “see the world with the belief and value system [Indigenous people] have,” beginning with how we view our relationship with nature.
The ability to have clean air, water, and food should be a priority, but the way that humans are treating the Earth show that we as species have lost sight of this. Suzuki explained how we let ourselves do this using an anecdote about a CEO of an oil company who he once spoke with.
“You create this illusion that everything’s fine by using up the rightful legacy of our children and grandchildren” was Suzuki’s message to both the CEO and the audience.
Suzuki concluded the hour with a brief introduction of the Blue Dot Movement, his plan to solidify the environment as a priority in our ever changing political world. The Blue Dot Movement aims to recognize every Canadian’s right to live in a healthy and clean environment by inserting this right into municipal legislations with the eventual goal of amending the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
David Suzuki graciously remained after his talk to accept questions from the audience. During this period he expressed opinions on the current political environment in Canada and fielded criticisms of his personal life, explaining that he justifies his extensive travel because he believes that it is important to raise awareness, hoping that it is worth it.
At the end of the question period, Science Students Council presented Suzuki with a parting gift to which he aptly responded “Oh great, more stuff.”