Where there is a will there is a way

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

David Suzuki - Force of Nature (2011) Canada

I just got the documentary on David Suzuki. I ordered it from Canada, as it wasn't out here yet, and my parents posted it on to me.

David Suzuki is a great man - his talent is communicating science to regular people. He is a rare person, with both logical and intuitive abilities. First, he conducted genetics research, conducting experiments with fruitflies. Then he became a much loved TV host in Canada, a gentle, friendly Japanese man who helped people understand about nature in the show "The Nature of Things". Then as he saw how things were connected, he went on to speak all over the world about the danger of going past our limits as a species on Earth, consuming all the Earth's resources without allowing them to replenish.

He grew up not speaking Japanese, but integrated into Canadian culture, surrounded by Caucasian people. He wasn't allowed by his father to date white girls, so he would go off and explore a nearby swamp - observing and discovering many magical things.

The most freaky, and important part of this movie is a metaphor that he uses to help us understand clearly the science (and danger) of unlimited population increase on a planet with limited resources. It is so important, and crystal clear, that I have listened and written down every word of this part. It's something that we all need to think about, and try to live accordingly, with all of our ability. It is scary, but don't get depressed watching it! I am a fighter, this awareness can help us to change things:

David Suzuki:
"Our home, the biosphere, is finite and fixed. It can't grow. And if the economy is a part of and utterly dependant on the biosphere, the attempt to maintain endless growth is an impossibility. Let me show you why. Steady growth over time, whether it's the amount of garbage you make, the size of your city, the population of the world, anything growing steadily is called exponential growth. And anything growing exponentially has a predictable doubling time. I am going to give you a system analagous to the planet - it's a test-tube full of food for bacteria. So the test tube and food is the planet, and the bacteria are us. I'm going to add one bacterial cell to the test tube, and it's going to begin to divide every minute."

[Screen behind him shows one cell splitting into two, and from two into four behind him, which continues as he speaks...]

"That's exponential growth. So at the beginning, there's one cell; one minute, there are two; two minutes, there are four; three minutes, there are eight. That's exponential growth. And at 60 minutes, the test tube is completely packed with bacteria and there's no food left. So we have a 60-minute growth cycle.

"When is the test tube half full? And of course, the answer is at 59 minutes. 59 minutes, it's only half-full, but one minute later, it's completely full. So at 58 minutes, it's 25% full. 57 minutes, it's 12.5% full.
At 55 minutes of a 60-minute cycle, it's 3% full.

"So let's suppose at 55 minutes, one of the bacteria says, 'Hey guys, I've been thinking...we've got a population problem.' The other bacteria would say, 'Jack, what the hell have you been smoking? 97% of the test tube's empty and we've been around for 55 minutes!' They'd be five minutes away from filling it.

"So bacteria are no smarter than people. At 59 minutes they go, 'Oh my God, Jack is right! We've got 1 minute left! What are we going to do now? Well, we better give that money to those scientists! Maybe they can pull us out of this.' But the world for the bacteria is the test tube and food. How can they possibly add any more food or space to that world? They can't. They can no more add food or space than we can add air, water, soil or biodiversity to the biosphere.

"This is not speculation or hypothesis, it is straight mathematical certainty. And every scientist I have talked to agrees with me - we're already past the 59th minute. So all the demand for relentless growth is the call to accelerate down what is a suicidal path. And by focusing on growth! growth! we fail to ask the important questions, like how much is enough? Are there no limits? Are we happier with all this stuff? What is an economy for? We never ask those questions.

There was also a great part where he traces the path of one breath of air to show our interconnectedness with our environment (video embedded below).

David Suzuki visited his daughter and new granddaughter, living in a Haida community in BC, as his daughter met and married a Haida man when David helped them defend their forest from logging. I felt the contrast between their lives, the community that they had, and the beautiful forest setting - with the far more lonely modern lifestyle of my family and other families in the developed world in comparison.

David Suzuki, speaking at his Legacy speech:

"And ever since that first encounter with Guujaw, I have been a student, meeting aboriginal people around the world, and witnessing that same attachment to place. Whether it's in the Amazon or the Australian outback, aboriginal people speak of the Earth as our mother and they tell us we are created by the four sacred elements: earth, air, fire and water. So I realized we had defined the problem incorrectly. There's no environment out there and we are here, and we somehow have to watch the way we interact with it. We are the environment.

"And the leading science corroborates this ancient understanding that informs us that whatever we do to our surroundings, we do directly to ourselves. The environmental crisis is a human crisis. We are at the centre of it, both causing the problems and as the victims of the consequences."

No comments: