No one has taught Canadians more about nature and science generally than Dr. David Suzuki. He has now announced that, after 44 years at the helm, he is retiring from his chief educational instrument, the CBC program The Nature of Things.
Suzuki has a strong academic background, obtaining a PhD in zoology from the University of Chicago and teaching in the genetics department at the U of BC for almost 40 years.
He began bringing science to a wider audience as the first host of one of my favourite radio programs, which I listen to faithfully every Saturday morning, the CBC’s Quirks & Quarks.
He has not just educated Canadians. The Nature of Things has been seen in over 40 countries. He hosted the critically acclaimed series The Secret of Life on American Public Broadcasting and produced Yellowstone to Yukon: The Wildlands Project for the Discovery Channel. And then there’s over 50 books and his non-profit David Suzuki Foundation which is guided by what might be Suzuki’s motto, “We are interconnected with nature, and with each other. What we do to the planet and its living creatures, we do to ourselves.”
Awarded a host of Canadian and International honours including Companion of the Order of Canada and the Right Livelihood Award, he has received a long list of honorary degrees. He was nominated as one of the top ten greatest Canadians by CBC viewers. (He came fifth, saying he voted for Tommy Douglas.)
His passionate commitment to the planet has inevitability iresulted n a few stumbles and stepping on a few toes. His opposition to genetically modified foods is contrary to his usual fidelity to science, and his opposition to immigration is somewhat unCanadian although I sympathize entirely with his anti-growth views. His comments about Stephen Harper being jailed for his climate policies and pipelines being blown up if politicians don’t awake to the climate threat were, shall we say, intemperate, the latter occasioning an apology.
Suzuki’s sometimes provocative ways will by no means end with his retirement from broadcasting. The 86-year old doesn’t intend to fade away. As for his environmental activism, Suzuki said he has more work to do. And he will be speaking out. “I don’t have to kiss anybody’s ass in order to get a job or a raise or a promotion,” he said. “I’m free now, as an elder.”
Doctor Suzuki will continue to do his thing for the environment—and it continues to need him. As do we.