October 31st, 2011, was a "teachable" moment, one of those moments that come so infrequently that they must therefore be seized and exploited to the fullest extent to increase public awareness. That was the day that, according to demographers, we reached an awful milestone, the day that our species became 7 billion in number. If you expected David Suzuki to use that event to highlight the problem of overpopulation, your expectations would have been cruelly dashed. Dr. Suzuki instead chose to spout the Monbiot line. Overpopulation is not the problem, you see. Its overconsumption by you know who.
Suzuki Repeats The Monbiot line
This article is for Suzuki-cultists who have been trying to tell me that finally The Great Man "gets it", that underneath it all, he really does understand that overpopulation is a key driver of our predicament. Wrong. He is a unreconstructed Monbiotist pure and simple. October 31, 2011 was arguably the most significant day in human history, the day we reached the 7 billion population mark. That was the day for Dr. Suzuki to step up to the plate and talk about overpopulation. Instead, he chose to repeat the tired old party line of soft green environmentalism and Hartmanite feminism. Next time greens want us to join their parade on climate change, keep that in mind. http://www.straight.com/article-519421/vancouver/david-suzuki-overconsumption-not-overpopulation-biggest-problem
Try this experiment. Phone his foundation and ask why they don't devote space to population issues. The answer I got was "We don't have the resources to deal with it." The David Suzuki Foundation is purported to have a $7 million annual budget. One would think that they could find a few bucks to bang the population drum, but then again, that would scare away a good part of their donor base, a base that includes the Royal Bank of Canada, Encana natural gas, and American corporations with commercial motives to shut down their Canadian competition.
As Steve Kurtz, a long-time population activist in Ottawa----now a resident of the United States---remarked: "He suckered me when I read some interviews or articles during the past year. But I won't be fooled again." Suzuki is good at customizing his interviews according to what he thinks that particular audience wants to hear. If an Australian audience wants to hear that Australia is overpopulated, he will tell them so---as he has. But we will not get on the CBC and tell Canadians that Canada is overpopulated, as he has done in more cloistered quarters or while overseas. Yet his fawning fan club in CBC-land lauds him as a man of integrity and courage, and the Great Canadian Myth persists, a myth swallowed whole by adoring fans in Australia, America and across the world.
Don' t Choose Fake Environmentalists For Heroes
Suzuki and the environmentalists are a waste of time. For them, the "P" in IPAT is a sop thrown out to appease our sensibilities, an inconsequential nuisance that they have to deal with but wished they didn't. Window-dressing. If you need to worship a Canadian environmental hero, try world-acclaimed wildlife artist Robert Bateman or Captain Paul Watson. Both of these men are aware of the 'raging monster' of human overpopulation and not afraid to say that it is running amok right here in Canada. To my knowledge, they are the only Canadian celebrities on the landscape who deserve to be called 'environmentalists'. As the term is presently used, an environmentalist is someone who attempts to manage the environment to accommodate relentless population growth, while a Malthusian would attempt to reverse population growth to accommodate the environment. Environmentalists---so-called---are essentially "growth-managers", not growth-stoppers.
By the way, if you want to understand the impact of overpopulation on biodiversity, take a look at Dave Foreman's latest book, "Man Swarm". This is what people like Suzuki, Monbiot and McKibben need to talk about----especially on days that have great demographic significance.
Measuring The Suzuki Legacy
If you want a measure of the Suzuki legacy, try to understand what impact he has had in shaping the mind-set of environmentally conscious people in his own community (mine). The Sierra Club here is a dominant force in this area, and conducts lectures and film nights through-out the year to "raise" our consciousness. They have a monopoly on the environmental conversation, and David Suzuki is a central figure in their pantheon. On one cold day in December of 2009, a cluster of local Sierra Club members stood in the parking lot of the village shopping centre with placards demanding meaningful action at the Copenhagen meeting on climate change. Their signs carried phrases like "Stop at 350" and "Stop Global Warming". Good on them to give up a weekend afternoon to make a statement about our environmental crisis. But on October 31st of this year, they were nowhere to be seen.
Instead, I met one of them in a local store dressed in a costume. When I asked her why she was dressed that way, I got the answer I expected, "It's a very important day, it's Halloween!" I replied that it was indeed, a very important day---- but not for that reason. She reacted with bewilderment. "Why?". I then began to tell her that it was the day that demographers estimated that we passed the 7 billionth mark, that our population number was now seven times what it was in 1800, that it had increased 250% in my lifetime, and that there are now more children born in one day that there are primates in the world. She cut me off to object that we need more children, and that if we lived more simply, there was more than enough to go around. "We need to grow our own food and get off the grid". In other words, hers was the programmed response that one gets from almost anyone now in her subculture. It is the typical catechism one hears from environmentally-conscious under-30s. Overpopulation? Maybe, but if we "empower women", dump capitalism, live like Ghandi, and share the wealth, overpopulation will take care of itself. Besides, birth rates are falling, aren't they?
Thanks For Nothing
So thank you Suzuki. Thank you Sierra Club. Thanks for nothing. Thanks for two decades of aggressive misinformation. Thanks for being the Pied Pipers who led an entire generation astray. Thanks for being Missing-in-Action on October 31st and blowing another "teachable moment". You are worse than useless, you are dangerous. Corporations have the environmental movement they paid for. One that manages dissent rather than directs it toward crucial targets. One that, to use Thoreau's words, "hacks at the branches of evil rather than striking at its roots."
November 5, 2011
Sierra Club motto: "Let's cut our per-capita consumption in half so we can allow the population to double."