Out of Balance with Nature - Introduce David Suzuki 4/06/2006 13:13
David Suzuki is the 9th Annual Roger Tory Peterson Award recipient. He gave a public lecture “Homo Sapiens: Out of Balance with Nature” on March 19th, 2006 at the Science Center at Harvard University. I am here introducing him and his talk to people who are concerned about preserving the nature. But before I write my impression from his talk, let me cite a few paragraphs from the lecture printout.
Roger Tory Peterson (1908-1996), world-renowned ornithologist, naturalist, author, lecturer and artist, revolutionized bird watching in 1934 with the first publication A Field Guide to the Birds. Through his artistry, writings and international lectures, Peterson taught millions of people to appreciate and respect their natural surroundings. Throughout a lifetime of travel, Peterson Journeyed to the far ends of the Earth. His photography and accounts of his travels have appeared in numerous magazines, films and books. Peterson received 23 honorary degrees, as well as virtually every award in the fields of wildlife conservation and the environment, and was the 1980 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. He was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
David T. Suzuki, Ph.D., is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist, and radio and television broadcaster. A world leader in sustainable ecology, he has authored more than thirty books and created numerous television shows, radio series, and special programs focusing on nature and environmental topics.
Dr. Suzuki’s programs have been widely acclaimed for their success in explaining the complexities of science in a compelling, easily understood way. His eight-part series, A Planet for the Taking, won the United Nations Environment Programme Medal in 1985. It was followed by The Secret of Life for PBS and a five-part series, The Brain, for the Discovery Channel. Dr. Suzuki produced two influential documentary series on the environment, From Naked Ape to Superspecies, and It’s a Matter of Survival. He is well known as the host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s popular science television series, The Nature of Things, since 1979. A prolific author, Dr. Suzuki writes a weekly column syndicated in over 30 newspapers across Canada, “Science Matter,” in which he examines the broad impact of science and techonology.
He is a man of 70 years old with white hairs but he spoke with the energy of someone who was in his twenties. I got this impression not only from the volume of his voice but also from how he directly rather than diplomatically attacked the human ignorance.
On the website (http://www.hmnh.harvard.edu/events/index.cfm) of Harvard Museum of Natural History, you will find a series of lectures on global warming and environmental movement this year, and the DVD of Dr. Suzuki’s lecture can be purchased. But the following will be a brief account from my memory and notes taken the day he gave his speech (There will inevitably have mistakes. Corrections are more than welcome).
Instead of framing the issue as environmental problem, he thinks that at the current point of history we have a human problem. In 1936, the world’s population was 2 billion but by now we have reached to 6.8 billion. It used to be that humans and many other species were shaping the earth altogether. But suddenly with the exponential explosion of Homo sapiens, we have become the single most dominant element in shaping and altering the earth. While humans grow fast, birds of many colors from the sky, fishes of many kinds from under the ocean and many other folks on land have diminished and disappeared.
He stated that foresight was the very definition of human and criticized the media industry quickly after. In 1992, a group of seventeen hundred scientists, including ninety-nine Nobel Laureates issued the "Warning to Humanity". "Human beings and the natural world," they wrote, "are on a collision course" marked by atmospheric problems including global warming and ozone depletion, pollution and depletion of water resources, buildup of hazardous wastes, erosion and salinization of soil, and rapid species extinction due to habitat destruction. Driving all this is the unprecedented acceleration of global population growth, which surged beyond the first billion humans in 1830 to two billion in 1930 and four billion in 1960, with nine to twelve billion humans projected by 2100 (the above paragraph is cited from http://www.otisgraham.com/otis_graham_writings/art_again_the_backward_region.html).
Although in this report written by the world’s top and first-class scientists, and in which they made strong statements about the danger we were in, Canada didn’t report it. No US Major TV networks reported it. It was considered not News worthy. He then showed great frustration by saying: but everyone knows O.J. Simpson, Mocia Lewinsky, Michael Jordan. Dr. Suzuki and his colleagues spent 24 million in studying the state of global echo system and the study was published in March of 2005. But it got only one day report on the third page of a Canadian newspaper. He then said “We are turning our backs away from opportunity.”
He believes that everything is connected. Everything we do has a consequence and therefore we should take responsibility. He went on criticizing reductionism by saying that we believed that by isolating nature into nuts and bolts, and by knowing how parts work we would know how the whole works. But it’s wrong as the whole is greater than the parts.
In 1900, there were 16 cities in the world that had population of 1.5 million but now there are 400 cities. Urban and city life has disconnected humans with nature. We falsely believe that our water, electricity comes from economy; that we create our own habitat. We further falsely believe that economy is what enables us to protect environment. He then said that economists were not scientists. He indeed said that economists were bullshitting. I don’t know how many audiences were economists and how they responded. He criticized the ‘externalities’ in the economic theory and the wrong belief that we were the greatest things in the world that there was no limit in human creativity and no limit of economy.
He stated that we lived in a finite world and we had to decide “what is enough?” He then claimed the index of GDP was a stupid concept, because it indicated that we had to have growth all the time. He said, many people would argue that we were better off than ever but this was not sustainable. We have been using up what are for our children and grand children
april at 4/06/2006 18:29
所以借此向现在的朋友和将来的朋友表达一下，有不喜欢的地方一定指出。比如，peachleaf 今天就告诉我，Nike likes efficiency and does like me to be late when they gave me ride. - 那我以后对Nike一定要准时 ，对别人呢从根据情况而定
wildcrane at 4/06/2006 19:02
peachleaf at 4/06/2006 19:05