Just a closer walk with nature – blessed gurus set us free

Canada’s (well at least the CBC’s) guru of all things green, David Suzuki has reached the 3/4 century mark:

David Suzuki turns 75 Thursday and after a half-century of fighting for the planet, the Godfather of Canada’s environmental movement is frustrated and worried.

The scientist, turned media celebrity, turned environmental activist, is looking back on his life and calling on Canada’s seniors to provide guidance to the country’s next generation of leaders.

“I keep emphasizing, I’m in the death zone. But so are every one of you who is an elder. Now get on with the most important part of your life. It’s not just being able to go out and go golfing every day. It’s being able to summarize what you’ve learned and pass that knowledge and experience on,” Suzuki says.

Well, I’m not sure that I qualify as an “elder” (I’m several years younger than he is) and I’ve never had a hankering to chase a white ball across a patch of green with a variety of fore-shortened “hockey sticks”. Bridge is my game of choice: keeps my mind active and gives me permission to called a spade a spade. But I am getting on with the “most important part” of my life: summarizing what I’ve learned (particularly in the last 16 months) and passing that “knowledge and experience on”.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of top 5 birthday presents (of knowledge) for David Suzuki.

5. Green gurus and Godfathers seem to excel at the art of “do as I say, but not as I do” … particularly when it comes to practicing what they preach. Suzuki is no exception – in fact, he has proven himself to be exceptionally adept at not practicing what he preaches.

4. Australia’s seniors (who are probably unaware of Suzuki’s call to arms) are taking it upon themselves to provide guidance to their country’s “next generation of leaders” by, well, calling a spade a spade (and a carbon tax an unjustified insupportable measure) [h/t WUWT]

3. Speaking of Australia … I’m sure that the following will be music to Suzuki’s ears: it’s an interview with fellow flim-flam artist Tim Flannery, recently appointed by PM Julia Gillard as chief honcho of an “independent” climate change commission. Here’s one view of Flannery:

Tim Flannery: A life in books

Flannery sets out to show us how we belong to and are part of nature:

“We actually are Earth. We really, really are just animated bits of the Earth’s crust, so to talk about us and the Earth is the wrong paradigm. It’s not us and Earth. We actually are Earth, and if they don’t grasp that . . .”

He tails off, but without sounding frustrated. At times, reading Flannery’s books, you wonder if human extinction really isn’t by far the most likely scenario. A terrifying sequence in The Future Eaters makes the state of perpetual, cannibalistic warfare in which the Maori lived after hunting their food sources to extinction sound remarkably similar to Cormac McCarthy’s nightmare vision in The Road. In example after example, Flannery shows how people all over the planet have failed to think ahead, and have carelessly and greedily used up plentiful natural resources until they are gone.

To his credit, according to the Guardian‘s Susanna Rustin, unlike Suzuki, Flannery is more inclined to practice what he preaches:

Five years ago [Flannery] moved with his wife Alexandra to the middle of nowhere, on the Hawkesbury river in New South Wales. There is no mains power or water supply to their home, no road, no sewerage. When the solar panels don’t generate enough electricity, they get by on battery back-up. For heat they rely on a wood-burning stove and logs cut from 1,000 hectares of forest. When their two grown-up children visit from Sydney, they arrive by boat. Every now and then Flannery and his son go fishing, grabbing 3kg mud crabs from out of their burrows. “It’s my recreation,” he says. “It’s staying in touch with nature. Not everyone has that drive. Not everyone wants to stay in touch with the moon and the tides and the fish and the birds and the growth of trees and the seasons, but I do.”

Flannery’s “vision” (which may or may not be in sync with that of IPCC chair Ranjendra K. Pachauri) according to Rustin is that:

environmentalism has always been about more than reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. He says hopefully that “re-wilding the planet is going to become the great project of the 21st century; you can already see it beginning, but it’s going to become quite an obsession”. As a palaeontologist he was trained to think in unimaginably vast timeframes of millions, even billions of years

2. Flannery has also made a few predictions regarding sea level rise that he doesn’t want to talk about (not because they were so very wrong, I’m sure) that were not mentioned in the Guardian piece. Nor were they mentioned during the course of an astounding interview I heard today [h/t Peter Bobroff, the wizard behind AccessIPCC].

Peter had told me I wouldn’t believe my ears – and you may not believe yours either. But during the course of a radio interview with Andrew Bolt, Flannery (after failing to successfully duck the question … to the effect of ‘what will be the difference we make, and when will we see results’ if Australia implements the carbon tax) declared that ‘it’s complicated but global temperature will be reduced by 0.001C but this may not take effect for several hundred and possibly a thousand years’

But don’t take my word for it, folks, listen to the interview!

1. In some quarters Germany is known as greenism/environmentalism’s ground-zero. Not too long ago, Der Speigel featured a seven part article in which the authors ask (and answer) the question: Is Environmentalism Really Working? The authors conclude:

The frequency with which environmental policies backfire should give pause for thought. Biofuels were meant to protect the environment and combat global warming — in fact it destroys rainforests and causes greater CO2 emissions than conventional fuel.

Saving water was meant to protect natural resources, but it just drives up water bills. Banning the light bulb was seen as a milestone on the path to carbon neutral living in Europe — but China has been cranking up its mercury production to satisfy demand for the alternative energy saving bulbs.

In the fight to protect the environment, it may be time to pause and ask oneself: what is really helping, and what isn’t? And to admit at times: sorry, we were wrong. But it doesn’t work like that. Environmentalism knows no doubt. The idea is never wrong, the problem is always in the implementation.

And so it will continue. Additional rubbish containers will be introduced, for different types of rubbish. The EU will ban the stand-by function on electronic appliances to reduce energy consumption — even though engineers know this reduces product lifespans.

Happy 75th birthday, oh, great green godfather, Suzuki. Have you considered that it might be time to enter your second scholarship-hood and return to that in which you actually have some credentials and expertise: the study of fruit flies?

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