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Suzuki behind Whistler’s sustainability initiative

World famous scientist, environmental advocate urges everyone to get involved at Whistler presentation



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The disconnect between our actions and the consequences is partly the fault of the media, says Suzuki, which has all but ignored the environmental issues of the day.

He referred to a report that 1,500 world scientists, including half of all Nobel Prize winners, released in 1992 titled World Scientists Warming to Humanity. Among its many conclusions the report suggested that we were on a collision course with disaster, human activity was responsible, and that we had no more than few decades to change our behaviour.

"That story didn’t get covered by the CBC, The Globe and Mail… It only got a small mention in the New York Times and the Washington Post, way back in the news section.

"Here we had half of all Nobel Prize winners telling us we had 10 years to avoid a disaster, and they didn’t consider it newsworthy. Well what does the media today find newsworthy? A two second flash of Janet Jackson’s breast."

Another part of the problem is the nature of the world economy, which requires constant growth to be able to function.

"That’s madness," Dr. Suzuki said. "In nature, the only thing that can sustain constant growth is a cancer."

The economy has become too much of a priority in the media, in government and in our own lives, according to Dr. Suzuki.

"When the economy is feeling good, everybody celebrates, we’re happy. When it’s feeling bad we’re frightened," he said.

That feeling of fear has led to the rise in right-wing governments in Canada, including B.C.’s own Liberal Party that campaigned on a platform to open the province up for business. That business is typically unsustainable, from legislation to increase raw log exports to plans to develop the oil and gas industry in the province. The economy has also been used to justify cuts to social programs, the opening of wild areas to development, and the lowering of environmental standards, Dr. Suzuki says.

"The biggest challenge we’re facing in this campaign is the human mind. Our values and our belief system, and the values we have shape the world," he said.

The Sustainability within a Generation campaign, which is tailored to governments and businesses, was created to re-establish our connection to the natural world at a high level, changing the rules and shifting our national priorities to make us sustainable. The campaign hopes to achieve this by approximately 2030, giving us lots of time to adjust to changes and change our mindsets.