DAVID SUZUKI, Environmental Scientist, Broadcaster and Social Entrepreneur

“You scientists are so intelligent, but you forget that the laboratory is not the real world. In the real world, everything is linked to everything else.”

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Reading Silent Spring (1962) shook David Suzuki to his core. Rachel Carson’s words seemed to address him directly as he realised he had forgotten about the real world. At a young age, David had been a successful geneticist managing his own laboratory, and yet he felt that the path he had taken was too narrow: “it became clear how little geneticists thought about the possible consequences of their gene modifications.”

In 1942 when he was six years old, his family were stripped off their citizen rights and incarcerated for three years in a prisoner of war camp in the Rocky Mountains. The sole reason? Eugenics,. Though the Suzukis had been born and bred in Canada they were of Japanese origin. His childhood was spent camping and fishing, and in this time his father taught him that “the reason for living is not to pile up money and power”, but to rather follow one’s convictions. Nature was to be respected since it was a loyal friend in and after those trips with his father.  David’s fascination with nature was the reason that he majored in biology.

In the late 1970s the unconventional, long-haired scientist gave up his laboratory in favour of his convictions. Science had to be clear and understandable to the masses so that atrocities based on genocide and eugenics would not reoccur in the name of science. Quirks and Quarks was the first of his interview-based radio shows: David would question scientists about their latest experiments and break down the answers into clear bite-sized nuggets. In 1980, he moved from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio to CBC TV to present a documentary series, The Nature of Things, concentrating on humanity’s impact on nature – the hugely successful program is now in its 53rd season.

Over the course of one year (1988) David interviewed 150 renowned scientists from various ecological disciplines for a new radio series, A Question of Survival. The outcome appeared bleak. The scientists’ answers frightened listeners who had no idea how to fix the earth’s deterioration. In response, the David Suzuki Foundation along with an aptly titled book, Good News for Change, were created to offer the public active solutions.  Yet despite David’s strengths in science and communications, his solutions were not always well-received, or worse, they were met with apathy. The foundation gifted Good News for Change to every member of the Canadian Parliament and did not receive a single response. From then on David was convinced that change could happen only from the roots up, starting with society’s destructive value system, that is, our obsession with economic growth and profit at the expense of all else.

David’s true success is his respect of nature and anchorage in the Rachel Carson’s real world.  By realising that everything was interconnected, he was able to listen to nature, communicate nature to others and offer, with the help of others, active solutions to lightening humanity’s impact on the world.

Footage from Force of Nature Source: Supplied

Footage from Force of Nature

About David Suzuki Foundation

Their mission is to protect the diversity of nature and humanity’s quality of life in the present moment and for the future. A part of this includes the promoting the interconnectedness of everything so that society realises that suffering cannot be isolated. A Declaration of Interdependence was created for this exact reason. The foundation has five key aims: protecting our climate; transforming the economy; protecting nature; reconnecting with nature; and Building community (www.davidsuzuki.org/about/).


Country: Canada

Type of Education: BA Honours in Biology from Amherst College (Massachusetts); Ph.D in Zoology from The University of Chicago. As well as this, he holds 26 honorary degrees from Universities around the world.

Awards: UNESCO’s Kalinga prize for science, a United Nations Environment Program medal, a Companion of the Order of Canada, 2009 Right Livelihood Award and in 2002 he received the John Drainie Award for Broadcasting excellence.

Foundation Affiliation: n/a

Pathway to Impact: Pathway of Effect, Pathway of Passion

Impact Area/s: Health- Access to clean air & water; Social Relations – Mutual respect; Freedom of Choice & Action

Organisation Type: Foundation, Own unique role & environment

Facts & Figures: Has written 52 books, 19 of which are for children.



Website: davidsuzuki.org

Twitter: @DavidSuzuki

Facebook: DavidSuzuki

Youtube: DavidSuzukiFDN

Twitter: @DavidSuzukiFDN

Read & Watch

Weekly Program, Nature of Things

Weekly Article, Huffington Post Canada David Suzuki 

About the author Helena Rosebery

After completing a Master of Communication (Food & Culture) from Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences, Italy, Helena Rosebery followed her heart to Zürich where she is inspired everyday by the resilience and greenness of her home-grown herbs. Helena employs words and coloured pencils to professionally communicate all that is – and is not – in the pursuit of a more ethical world.

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