Thanking a supportive public…

At the end of his public talk at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington DC, Canadian naturalist and TV host David Suzuki autographed copies of his life’s story in print, simply titled: David Suzuki: The Autobiography.

Naturally, I lined up. He inscribed it as: “To Nalaka: For Mother Earth”.

Suzuki has been one of my heroes from the time I first listened to him in May 1991, at an environmental youth conference in his home town of Vancouver. That was a memorable meeting, thanks largely to the presence of David Suzuki and Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop and an equally passionate campaigner for social justice and environmental causes.

The Autobiography The dedication of his autobiography is moving as it is fitting a man of public science who has done much to critically communicate science, technology and environment issues through radio, television and print media:

With deepest gratitude,
I thank and dedicate this book to the general public,
who made my life’s work possible.

You watched and listened to my programs;
You read, thought about, and responded to
ideas I expressed in writing.

You support added weight and
visibility to my efforts and carried me past
numerous road blocks and detractors.

That support has been a great honour, privilege,
and responsibility, which I have tried in my fallible, human
way to live up to.

In his acknowledgements, Suzuki goes on to thank many and varied people in his life including his parents, wife, children, grandchildren — as well as ‘the dozens of CBC radio and television staff, freelance researchers, writers and media professionals whose efforts have made me look good, a job that Jim Murray (his first producer on The Nature of Things) reminded me was not easy’.

I’m reading the book that is full of fascinating insights. There can’t be too many scientists who stripped down to a fig leaf and allowed public photography — all in the name of science (see photo).
almost nothing to hide from his audiences....

If he harboured any doubts whether his life held anything of interest or value to others, he need not have worried. David Suzuki is one of Canada’s greatest living treasures.

And his audiences know it.

For more information on the autobiography, go to Amazon.com

For David Suzuki Foundation

The Nature of David Suzuki

One of my highlights in the recent week I spent in Washington DC, attending the DC Environmental Film Festival, was listening to a talk by the Canadian naturalist and television personality David Suzuki.

In a 90-minute presentation at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Suzuki talked about his childhood, early influences, academic career and public life. He kept his packed audience – over 600 people – spell-bound, entertained and inspired. It reminded me of the first time I listened to this charismatic geneticist: in the summer of 1991, on my first visit to his home city of Vancouver.

If anything, he had got better with age but, I was happy to note, hasn’t mellowed. He still has the same passion that has made him not just a highly successful science communicator, but an ardent activist for the environmental cause and the rights of indigenous people, or First Nations.

David Suzuki

Introducing their well-known host, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) says:
“Dr. Suzuki is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. His television appearances, explaining the complexities of the natural sciences in a compelling, easily understood way, have consistently received high acclaim for over 30 years. He is the only network television science host who was actually a practising scientist.”

In his Smithsonian talk, Suzuki reminded us that his show – The Nature of Things with David Suzuki – is the only regular science programme that is broadcast on prime-time TV in North America on a mainstream public access channel. This might partly explain, he suggested, why Canadians are better informed about science and environmental issues that affect their daily lives. (In contrast, programmes like Nova go out on niche channels.)

The Museum of Broadcasting has this to say about the programme:
“One of the longest-running television shows in Canadian history, The Nature of Things has aired continuously since 6 November 1960. An hour-long general science program, the show began as a half-hour series–an attempt, as the first press release phrased it, ‘to put weekly science shows back on North American television schedules.’

Suzuki has been presenting the show without a break since 1979, and it is now branded by his name. When The Nature of Things with David Suzuki turned 30 years in l990, Suzuki wrote in The Toronto Star that in the gimmicky world of television-land, where only the new is exciting, “the longevity of a TV series is just like the persistence of a plant or animal species — it reflects the survival of the fittest.”

CBC’s official webpage for the show

Read a brief history of The Nature of Things

CBC profile of David Suzuki, and selected extracts and interview clips