Wednesday, April 08, 2009

David Suzuki

Jen and I went to Seattle Town Hall last night to hear the well-known biologist, environmentalist, and television personality (and, apparently, according to some poll, 5th Greatest Canadian ever), David Suzuki, talk about his new book, The Big Picture, in which he draws upon essays he’s written over the last few decades to continue making his case about the interconnectedness of all things in nature, including humans, and how contemporary industrial and social practices have deranged the delicate balance among all things in the natural world.

His talk was both incredibly inspiring and deeply depressing; I found myself alternating between feelings of hope and wonder at mystery and beauty of natural processes and disgust and horror at the ways in which mankind has made such a total fucking mess of things, especially in the last century or so.

Dr. Suzuki wasn’t preachy at all, but he minced no words in holding us accountable for the myriad ways in which the choices we make negatively affect the very systems that sustain all life on the planet.

One example that struck me had to do with our shared hunger for gadgetry. He pointed out that a person could turn off his or her DVD player, cellphone, high-speed internet connection, color laptop computer, and MP3 player and at that point, be living a perfectly modern, up-to-date lifestyle circa 1995. All of these gadgets, in other words, that so many people consider so vital to their lives today have been around barely over a decade; it’s no wonder that a crabby old grouch like me resists them.

But more to the point, as he reminded us, is that all of these, and in the obsolescence to which they consign other gadgets (and to which they will soon be consigned themselves), contribute not just to environmental destruction, but to the misguided idea that more stuff and more technology will make us happier.

So, stop reading this immediately, and go outside and play.


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