On David Suzuki

I have to admit to a bit of befuddlement over the environment issues these days – particularly where they intersect with economic development.

And I must say that environmentalists don’t make it easy. They all agree (mostly) on global climate change. But beyond that there is quite a bit of disagreement. I heard last week on a BBC podcast a noted British environmentalist say that we must plant more trees around the Equator where it’s humid and definitely not in northern climates where it is dry. I don’t remember his exact logic for this but then I hear David Suzuki telling us to ‘plant trees like crazy’ and my confusion grows even more.

Speaking of the former Quirks and Quarks host (yes, I’m that old), Suzuki made an impassioned speech, I heard on the radio. He apparently talked about ‘hope’, and for ‘our communities’ and ‘our future’.

It’s funny, I guess, that we all come at things from a slightly different perspective.

I can’t get that image out of my head. I was driving through Quebec to Labrador a couple of years ago when we came across an abandoned town. It was completely razed. No buildings left. The roads were being reclaimed by the forest. But as we walked around, we found the foundations for dozens of buildings – large and small, many small roads – this town was obviously a going concern at some point to support a large mine. Then the mine closed and so did the town.

So my point is this. With most of New Brunswick’s communities losing population (over 70%) and some losing at a rate of 1-2% per year, how can we easily make the link between environmental stewardship and ‘hope’ for ‘our communities’?

If we continue on the path we are on right now, with 1-2 generations there will be very little ‘community’ left in New Brunswick at all (with the exception of most likely the three southern urban centres – however, I have said before that Fredericton will need to watch out. If Maritime Union is forced on the three Maritime provinces within 20 years or so – I predict this unless things change – the new capital will undoubtedly be Halifax and without the government in Freddy beach that economy will be challenged).

But I digress.

So, I wonder where the David Suzukis are for the economy? Is that such a counter intuitive concept? To actually have a national, respected champion arguing for effective regional development strategies? Arguing that continued economic isolation will lead to even more feelings of disenfranchisement in large areas of this country?

I like David Suzuki. I think it’s great that he is now a bona fide pop star.

But I’m still holding out for a pop star championing for reinvigorating large areas of this country who’s economies have been put on life support and are slowly dying.

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0 Responses to On David Suzuki

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dude, maybe that’s your job?:)

    However, there’s a difference between ‘making sure a community is around’ in a hundred years and ‘making sure a PLANET is around’. For those who aren’t gung ho humanists the reality is that wherever human habitation stops, life increases at an exponential rate. For many that’s good news.

    However, since when are northern climates ‘dry’? THere’s this little thing that occurs close to the equator called ‘deserts’ which get minimal precipitation each year (and their hard to grow trees in), and then there’s Victoria and St. Johns where they get rain about three quarters of the year, and the rest of the country is covered most of the year in snow. So I really think you ought to rithink your sources.

    I know that you often get irate when people ‘don’t get it’, but I could say the same as I repeat once again:

    Ecological stewardship is GOOD for economiies for the simple reason that it is labour intensive. Want to see people with great standard of living and full employment? Go visit a mennonite community in ontario. New Brunswickers could EASILY have full employment if just one thing were done: revoke the licenses on land given to foreign corporations who employ almost nobody.

    I was recently reading a book on dyes and stains made from lichens and plants, as well as another book on the huge potential of materials made available in forests. Mind you, they are not available in clearcuts of massively pesticided forests or pine plantations. So once again a term we used to once hear ‘cost benefit’ is thrown out the window in exchange for ‘desperation economics’, where basically all resources are handed to foreign companies on the hope they will continue to employ people.

    Environmental economics is the most viable form of economic development there is with virtually unbounded possibilities. However, once again that Irving press comes into it and New Brunswickers are among the most ‘suspicious’ people when it comes to the environment, even though they would benefit the most.

    Those towns may be deserted along that road, but at least other creatures benefit, and of course once again we can note that the ‘ghost town’ is virtually exclusive to places where market economies favour exports. Plenty of small villages still abound in europe, they are simply smart enough to provide their own products and keep most of their resources close to home.