Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our Mother's Defender

While writing one of last week's post I had a 'eureka' moment. There are quite a few people who are associated with Vancouver that have gone on to accomplish great things and I thought I should write on them as well as our history. The first person I am going to cover is the one and only David Suzuki. And fittingly since Suzuki is an environmental activist, I am going to show you photos of nature that I have taken around the city.

A third generation Japanese Canadian, David Takayoshi Suzuki was born on March 24, 1936 in Vancouver to parents Setsu Nakamura and Kaoru Carr Suzuki. David has a twin sister Marcia and two other siblings - Geraldine (now known as Aiko) and Dawn.

In June of 1942 the government sold the Suzuki's dry cleaning business and David, his mother and two sisters were interned at a camp in Slocan. His father had already been sent to a labor camp in Solsqua two months earlier. (David's sister Dawn was born at the internment camp)

After the war the Suzukis were forced to move east, as were many Japanese Canadian families. David and his family lived in Islington, Leamington and London Ontario.

Suzuki then went south of the border for his education obtaining a BA from the Amherst College of Massachusetts in 1958 and a Ph.D in zoology in 1961 from the University of Chicago. Early in his career he studied genetics and was a professor in that field at the University of British Columbia for almost forty years (from 1963 until his retirement in 2001).

In 1970 David could be seen on television with the weekly children's show Suzuki on Science and from 1975-1979 Suzuki was on the weekly adult themed Science Magazine.  He was also heard on the CBC Radio One with the programme Quirks and Quarks throughout the seventies.

David is also the host of CBC's longest running documentary show, The Nature of Things. Started in 1979 and now in its fifty first season, this show is broadcast over fifty countries. Suzuki aims to increase awareness of nature, point out threats to well being and the wild and to present alternatives to achieve a more sustainable society. He is also an advocate of renewable energy sources and the soft energy path.

Suzuki is a busy man. His 1985 hit series A Planet for the Taking averaged more than 1.8 million viewers per episode and earned Suzuki a United Nations Environmental Programme award and he was also the host of the 1993 critically acclaimed PBS series, The Secret of Life. He produced "Yellowstone to Yukon: The Wildlands Project" in 1997.

In addition to these David Suzuki also wrote a book The Sacred Balance which was first published in 1997. It was later made into a five hour miniseries for Canadian Public Television in 2002.
Sometimes controversial, Suzuki is a spokesperson on global climate change. He believes, as many scientists do, that humans are responsible for the dangerous climate shifts we are now seeing. He also believes that the doubt that many of the public and media express towards this area of concern is the result of a well organized campaign of disinformation of the science involved and those involved in the campaign want to delay action on climate change. Suzuki apparently feels that these sceptics have received significant funding from oil and coal companies.

David is a man who says what  he thinks and feels. In 2008 he urged McGill University students to speak out against politicians who fail to act on climate change and a year later he said that Prime Minister Stephen Harper should be put in jail.

David Suzuki is the author of 52 books, fifteen of which are for children. He has received numerous awards including the Order of Canada - first as an Officer in 1976 then upgraded to Companion status in 2006-the Order of British Columbia in 1995, UNESCOs Kalinga Prize for science in 1986 and a whole slew of others both Canadian and International. He also has a large inventory of honorary degrees from teaching establishments worldwide.

In 2004 David was nominated for as one of the top ten Canadians voted on by CBC viewers. Suzuki said he voted for the person who won, Tommy Douglas.

So love him or hate him, admire him or discount him you have to admit that David Suzuki is a dynamic individual who has made an everlasting mark on this world. Through the Vancouver based David Suzuki Foundation, Suzuki continues to raise awareness for his causes and defend Mother Earth.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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