If David Suzuki hadn’t read Rachel Carson’s seminal book Silent Spring, he doesn’t know where his life might have taken him.
“It’s hard to imagine what the world was like when her book came out, but there was no department of the Environment anywhere in the planet,” he says.
It awoke Suzuki’s inner activist, beginning a career that would make the UBC biology professor an environmental advocate known the world over.
“It was a very exciting time. In 1988, the environment all over the world was at its absolute top. And that’s when Brian Mulroney was re-elected Prime Minister, and to show that he cared about the environment, he appointed his brightest star, Lucien Bouchard.”
Soon after, Suzuki asked Bouchard how serious he thought global warming was.
“These were his exact words: It threatens the survival of our species. We have to act now,” he said.
WATCH: Linda Aylseworth’s extended interview with Suzuki
So Suzuki did. In 1990, after meeting with a group of like-minded people, it was decided that there was room for one more environmental organizations. But
“We said this organization should look at root causes to find solutions to change direction, and we would base it on science, the best science we could find.”
The David Suzuki Foundation’s message wasn’t just directed to adults, but to future generations.
“If children are being educated to understand the value of air, water, soil and so on, then if kids say ‘dad, I’m really worried about what’s going on with the atmosphere, then it seems to me if you love your children, you have to act,’” he says.
Much has changed since those early days – but then again, much hasn’t. And yet Suzuki still has hope for the future, especially after the recent federal election.
“I lived in tremendous anger and frustration under the Harper government. the government had never acknowledged the severity and reality of climate change. Changing governments on October 19 was huge.”
There was a time when Suzuki felt the world rested on his shoulders, but not for a long time. The foundation has shown him that there are many others who share his convictions.
“With a lot of people, we’re each a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, you can fill any bucket there is.”