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Suzuki decries our obsession with ‘growth’

In Development
Nov 27th, 2010

Environmentalist calls the human inventions of the market economy the new demons we believe in
Dr. David Suzuki brought his Message from an Elder to Moncton Saturday, and the message from Canada’s elder statesman for the environment was we worship the false gods of the market and the economy and ignore the harm we are causing the goddess he calls Mother Earth.
Suzuki spoke to a crowd of several hundred people at the Moncton Coliseum Agrena Complex at The Atlantic Green Show, a weekend trade show devoted to finding more sustainable ways of living.
Changing the way we live is not merely a feel-good choice we should make, Suzuki suggested, but rather something imperative to our survival on an increasingly fragile planet.
Saying the biosphere on our earth is so thin as to be the equivalent of a layer of varnish on a basketball-sized earth, Suzuki didn’t get his enthusiastic standing ovation for offering a feel-good speech on a Saturday afternoon.
Instead, he noted the alarming problems that the bulk of scientists accept as legitimate worries, that the climate is rapidly changing as the result of fossil fuel consumption, that 20 per cent of all plant species will be extinct by mid-century, as will 20 per cent of all vertebrates, to say nothing of estimates there will be no commercial species of fish left.
“We have created the illusion that everything is fine by using up the rightful legacies of our children,” he raged, spitting contemptuously at our obsession with economic growth, which of course usually translates to using up natural resources.
“Things can’t grow forever in a finite world,” he said. “What we keep calling growth, growth, growth is suicide.”
He lashed out at Prime Minister Stephen Harper for always putting short term economic desires so far ahead of long term environmental sustainability that his government wouldn’t even talk about the concept of a carbon tax to promote conservation, saying Harper dismissed it outright as bad for the economy.
“We always ask nature to pay the price for our economic problems,” Suzuki said. “It’s the biosphere that allows us to make a living.”
“All over the world, our elders are a living record of the remarkable change in the span of a single human life,” he said, recalling that wherever he goes, the changes elders describe always seem to be of damage to the natural environments they live in.
Asking rhetorically where we go from here, he said, “first we need to think about what we want from life.”
Recalling his father’s last days in 1994, Suzuki said the things his father talked about, “weren’t closets full of stuff or a big house or the cars he had.” Instead he remembered the times with family and friends.
“Those things we value most have no value in our economic system,” yet we let ourselves be enslaved to our economic system anyway, even at the sacrifice of the things we are all much more likely to think about on our
own deathbeds – our loved ones the places we called home and the natural features of our worlds that are so much a part of home, be it blue skies, orthe ocean, or flowers or forests.
“Let’s put the ‘eco’ back in economics,” he said. “As a scientist, I know there is a far more important bottom line than what politicians and businessmen tell us.”

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