Renowned scientist and environmental activist Dr. David Suzuki as in Prince Rupert on Wednesday night to talk about climate change and its impact as part of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Coastal Connections Tour.
Suzuki spoke following the screening of a 30-minute documentary about the effects climate change are already having in the province, a subject that touched upon everything from the loss of glaciers to the spread of the mountain pine beetle to the health of salmon. While those impacts are evident to people working in those industries, Suzuki said not addressing the use of carbon in society could have much more dire consequences.
“We are at a critical moment across the world … what we do or do not do in the next 20 years will determine whether or not we as a species survive to the end of the century,” he said.
“That statement may seem melodramatic, but many of my counterparts believe we are already beyond the point of no return, that it is too late and we have already passed too many tipping points … I think nobody can say it’s too late, that we need to operate on the basis of hope … but the challenges are real and urgent and we to have to take action now.”
In addition to an increase in the human population, beyond what Suzuki said the biosphere could sustain, the former host of The Nature of Things said the threat of climate change is being driven by a focus on the economy. Given that human will die without air or water and will fall ill if the air or water they take in is polluted, Suzuki said that focus is misguided.
“We can’t allow economics to shape the discussion. We have to come together and establish a common baseline of what we agree is the most important … when the Prime Minister of Canada says we can’t do anything about carbon emissions because it would hurt the economy, it’s absurd because he is elevating the economy above the very atmosphere that sustains us,” he said.
“I think even the CEOs of the biggest oil companies in the world would have to agree that maintaining clean air is the most important consideration … any human being would have to put clean water right up there with clean air.”
David Suzuki Foundation president and co-founder Tara Cullis said it is important that these discussion take place on the North Coast given the potential industries looking at setting up in the region.
“Kitimat and Prince Rupert are at the epicentre of what is happening not only in B.C., but across the country … you are at the eye of the hurricane. Enbridge is an issue of importance across the country and at the same time you have LNG landing around you,” she said.
“You are the place where economy and ecology are colliding in the most obvious way.”