Takayoshi Suzuki, CC, OBC, Ph.D (born March 24,
1936), is a Canadian science broadcaster and environmental
activist. Since the mid-1970s, Suzuki has become
known for his TV and radio series and books about
nature and the environment. He is best known as
host of the popular and long-running CBC Television
science magazine, The Nature of Things, seen in
syndication in over 40 nations. He is also well
known for criticizing governments for their lack
of action to protect the environment.
long time activist to reverse global climate change,
Suzuki co-founded the David Suzuki Foundation
in 1990, to work "to find ways for society
to live in balance with the natural world that
sustains us." The Foundation's priorities
are: oceans and sustainable fishing, climate change
and clean energy, sustainability, and David Suzuki's
had a twin sister named Marcia, as well as two
other siblings, Geraldine (now known as Aiko)
and Dawn. They were born to Setsu Nakamura and
Kaoru Carr Suzuki in Vancouver, Canada. Suzuki's
maternal and paternal grandparents had immigrated
to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century.
third-generation Japanese-Canadian ("Canadian
Sansei"), Suzuki and his family suffered
internment in British Columbia during the Second
World War from when he was six (1942) until after
the war ended. In June 1942, the government sold
the Suzuki family's dry-cleaning business, then
interned Suzuki, his mother, and two sisters in
a camp at Slocan in the British Columbia Interior.
His father had been sent to a labour camp in Solsqua
two months earlier. Suzuki's sister, Dawn, was
born in the internment camp.
the war, Suzuki's family, like other Japanese
Canadian families, was forced to move east of
the Rockies. The Suzukis moved to Islington, Leamington,
and London, Ontario. David Suzuki, in interviews,
has many times credited his father for having
interested and sensitized him to nature.
attended Mill Street Elementary School and Grade
9 at Leamington Secondary School before moving
to London, where he attended London Central Secondary
School, eventually winning the election to become
Students' Council President in his last year there
by more votes than all of the other candidates
received his BA from Amherst College in Massachusetts
in 1958, and his Ph.D in zoology from the University
of Chicago in 1961.
in his research career he studied genetics, using
the popular model organism Drosophila melanogaster
(fruit flies). To be able to use his initials
in naming any new genes he found, he studied Drosophila
temperature-sensitive phenotypes (DTS). (As he
jokingly noted at a lecture at Johns Hopkins University,
the only alternative was "damn tough skin".)
He was a professor in the genetics department
(stated in his book Genethics: The Ethics of Engineering
Life, 1988) at the University of British Columbia
for almost forty years (from 1963 until his retirement
in 2001), and has since been professor emeritus
at a university research institute.
his work popularizing science and environmental
issues, he has been presented with 22 honorary
began in television in 1970 with the weekly show
Suzuki on Science, a children's show. In 1974,
he founded the radio programme Quirks and Quarks
which he also hosted on CBC Radio One from 1975
to 1979. Throughout the 1970s, he also hosted
Science Magazine, a weekly programme geared towards
an adult audience.
1979, Suzuki has hosted The Nature of Things,
a CBC television series that has aired in nearly
fifty countries worldwide. In this program, Suzuki's
aim is to stimulate interest in the natural world,
to point out threats to human well-being and wildlife
habitat, and to present alternatives for achieving
a more sustainable society. Suzuki has been a
prominent proponent of renewable energy sources
and the soft energy path.
was the host of the critically acclaimed PBS series
The Secret of Life. His 1985 hit series, A
Planet for the Taking, averaged more than 1.8
million viewers per episode and earned him a United
Nations Environment Programme Medal. His perspective
in this series is summed up in his statement:
"We have both a sense of the importance of
the wilderness and space in our culture and an
attitude that it is limitless and therefore we
needn't worry." He concludes with a call
for a major "perceptual shift" in our
relationship with nature and the wild.
The Sacred Balance, a book first published in
1997 and later made into a five hour mini-series
on Canadian public television, was broadcast in
2002.  Suzuki is now taking part in an advertisement
campaign with the tagline "You have the power",
promoting energy conservation through various
household alternatives, such as the use of compact
Climate change activism
the years, Suzuki has been a forceful spokesperson
about the realities of global climate change.
His comments have not always been without controversy.
On February 15, 2007, Suzuki was interviewed on
Toronto radio station AM 640 by morning show host
John Oakley. Suzuki asserted that Canada should
be branded "international outlaws" for
reneging on Kyoto agreements, and dismissed as
"a lot of baloney" Oakley's suggestion
that some scientists feel intimidated from questioning
global warming hypotheses.
said that scientists who express opposing views
are "shills" for big corporations. He
defended his own foundation by declaring that
"corporations have not been interested in
funding us" and that their financial backing
comes "from ordinary Canadians". However,
the foundation's 2005-06 annual report lists numerous
corporate donors, including EnCana Corporation,
OPG and ATCO Gas.
attracted criticism from National Post columnist
Barbara Kay, who wrote: "The remorseless
pressure on Canadians to sign up for environmental
orthodoxies that they are not cognitively equipped
to judge is demoralizing and divisive. Tantrums
by self-anointed prophets do not help the situation.
Whatever the eventual outcome on the global warming
front, we could all use a little non-partisanship,
maturity and attitudinal cooling on the behavioural
Suzuki is unequivocal that climate change is a
very real and pressing problem and that there
is now an "overwhelming majority of scientists"
who are in agreement that human activity is responsible.
The David Suzuki Foundation website has a clear
statement of this:
The debate is over about whether or not climate
change is real. Irrefutable evidence from around
the world - including extreme weather events,
record temperatures, retreating glaciers, and
rising sea levels - all point to the fact climate
change is happening now and at rates much faster
than previously thought.
The consensus includes the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, consisting of over 2,000 scientists
from 100 countries. The findings of the panel
have been approved by the National Academies of
Science of each of the G8 countries, along with
those of China, India and Brazil.
says that despite this growing consensus, many
in the public and the media seemed doubtful about
the science for many years. The reason for the
confusion about climate change, in Suzuki's view,
was due to a well-organized campaign of disinformation
about the science involved. "A very small
band of critics" denies that climate change
exists and that humans are the cause. These climate
change “skeptics” or "deniers,"
Suzuki claims, tend not to be climate scientists
and do not publish in peer-reviewed scientific
journals but rather target the media, the general
public, and policy makers. Their goal: "delaying
action on climate change." According to Suzuki,
the skeptics have received significant funding
from coal and oil companies, including ExxonMobil.
Suzuki claims that they are linked to "industry-funded
lobby groups to - in the words of one leaked memo
— 'reposition global warming as theory (not
David Suzuki Foundation has implemented a carbon
neutral program in its offices. The Foundation
states that this is part of its "ongoing
commitment to sustainability." The program
is designed to show that "taking responsibility
for one’s greenhouse gas emissions is straightforward
and inexpensive," It uses a guide by the
World Resources Institute to calculate greenhouse
gas emissions. Because of problems with tree planting
projects, the Foundation purchases carbon offsets
from energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
2007, Suzuki made a cross-country tour in a diesel
bus, speaking to Canadians about climate change
and urging compliance with the Kyoto Accord. Gold
Standard carbon offsets were purchased by the
David Suzuki Foundation for all bus travel and
tour activities. The Foundation's "David
Suzuki's Nature Challenge" and "David
Suzuki's Nature Challenge for Kids" suggest
simple steps people can take to protect nature
and improve their quality of life.
Suzuki has given talks to the NDP, Liberal, and
Green Parties of Canada, but does not belong to
any political party. The David Suzuki Foundation
is non-partisan, in accordance with the rules
governing non-profit charities in Canada.
is the author of forty-three books (fifteen for
children), including Genethics, Wisdom of the
Elders, Inventing the Future, and the best-selling
Looking At series of children’s science
Awards and honours
is the recipient of Canada’s most prestigious
award, the Order of Canada Officer (1976) upgraded
to Companion status in (2006) the Order of British
Columbia (1995), UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize
for science (1986) and a long list of Canadian
and international honours.
2004, David Suzuki was nominated as one of the
top ten "Greatest Canadians" by viewers
of the CBC. In the final vote he finished fifth
and therefore ranked as the greatest living Canadian.
Suzuki said that his own vote was for Tommy Douglas
who was the eventual winner.
2006, David Suzuki was the recipient of the Bradford
Washburn Award presented at the Museum of Science
in Boston, Massachusetts.
Suzuki has received 22 honorary degrees from Universities
in Canada, the United States and Australia they
* University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown
(LL.D) in 1974.
* University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario (D.Sc)
* Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia
(D.Sc) in 1979.
* Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario (LL.D)
* University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta (LL.D)
* Governors State University in University Park,
Illinois (DHL) in 1986.
* Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario
(D.Sc) in 1986.
* McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario (D.Sc)
* Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario (LL.D)
* Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario (D.Sc)
* Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
(D.Sc) in 1988.
* Griffith University in Queensland, Australia
(D.Sc) in 1997.
* Open University, Canada DDL in 1998.
* Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington,
U.S. (D.Sc) in 1999
* Unity College in Unity, Maine, U.S. (Doctor
of Environmental Science) in 2000.
* Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British
Columbia DDL in 2001.
* York University in Toronto, Ontario (D.Sc) in
* UQAM in Montreal, Quebec (D.Sc) in 2005.
* Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia
(D.Sc) in 2006.
* Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario (Doctor
of Communication) in 2007.
* University of Montreal in Montreal, Quebec (D.Sc)
* University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario
(D.Sc) in 2007.
was married to Setsuko Joane Sunahara from 1958
to 1965, with three children (Tamiko, Laura, and
Troy). He married Tara Elizabeth Cullis in 1972.
They have two daughters: Sarika and Severn Cullis-Suzuki.
Severn, born in 1979, has also done environmental
work, including speaking at environmental conferences.
Suzuki's Japanese name is Takayoshi Suzuki (??
??, Suzuki Takayoshi?) but he is always known
by his English name to the public, even in Japanese
scientific and popular literature (using Romaji).
Suzuki lives in Point Grey, an affluent area of
David Suzuki Foundation
and the environment