David Suzuki inspires educators in Vancouver; highlights dire state of climate and urgent need for action

Abhayjeet Singh Sachal with Dr. David Suzuki.
Photos submitted


Grade 11

Seaquam Secondary School, Delta


“IF your daughter isn’t an animal, then she must be a plant.”

These were the words of Dr. David Suzuki at the World Environmental Education Congress 2017 in Vancouver, Canada.

He meant that all human beings are animals. We must follow the ecological cycles of nature like all other animals. If we humans are not animals, then we must be plants. Therefore it’s important to understand that all humans must come together to save the planet for all animals.

Dr. Suzuki’s speech was inspiring. Above all, his call to action was simple.

It is not too late to act upon climate change. We have a very short period of time to create incredible change and a shift in our mindset when it comes to economics.

Dr. Suzuki described how we live within the laws of physics and chemistry; we understand gravity and atomic compounds. Some of the basic laws of biology state that every ecosystem has a maximum number of organisms of a species that it can hold. We fail to understand that for humans, the Earth is our ecosystem and we are nearing our planet’s point of maximum capacity.

We are no different than any other animals. Our biosphere is finite and fixed and as Dr. Suzuki said, “we are using up all of the biological capital of our planet.”

Ever too often in politics, Suzuki mentioned, there is a dilemma between focusing on either the economy or the environment. In capitalistic terms, we need the world for its resources. According to scientists cited by Suzuki, there is only a 50% chance that humanity will still exist on this planet in the future.

Dr. Suzuki spoke about the basic necessities of human life – clean air, water, soil, and sunlight – and how we tend to forget that Indigenous peoples have lived in harmony with the environment for thousands of years.

There is an urgent need for a shift in our mindsets as individuals. We need to begin understanding Indigenous knowledge because it is not anecdotal. In fact, Suzuki stated that it is “far more profound than science.” Indigenous knowledge is based on thousands of years of experience and decades of adapting to climate change.

Since the era of colonization came to Canada, Indigenous groups have been strengthened despite constant cultural genocide in policy. Suzuki explained how humans were the first deadly invasive species on this planet, but by learning from Indigenous knowledge, we can flourish as a society. The protection of language and culture of Indigenous peoples is critical in sustaining thousands of years of knowledge.

Being an environmentalist is not a specialty. Suzuki explained how it is about recognizing our place on Earth and how we are connected to everything on this world. As educators or citizens, it is our failure if we do not shift the way others see their place on Earth.

The situation regarding climate change is dire. “There’s no point of saying it’s too late. We’re going to fight until it’s all over,” said Suzuki, who called upon all delegates of the WEEC conference to fight for humanity and our planet until it’s all over.


Personal Reflection:

As a young reporter, I found David Suzuki’s speech quite inspiring. Not only was it concise, but his insight is something that is often unheard in today’s society. After he finished his speech, I had the opportunity to ask him about Indigenous reconciliation and how youth can address these issues. Once again, he spoke genuinely about the necessity to connect with Indigenous communities personally so we can engage in dialogue and bridge gaps to create understanding. We are one and David Suzuki’s talk really reminded me of why we need to connect.