© Guardian photo
David Suzuki was the guest lecturer Friday for the annual National Symons Lecture on the State of the Canadian Confederation.
David Suzuki's passion for preserving the planet he inhabits is explosive.
His language can be, well, quite passionate as well.
Nothing, though, seemed to convey his great angst over the self-destructive path that he believes humankind is on more dramatically than his emotional reaction Friday to hugging a child.
Following the embrace, the country's most recognizable scientist choked up on stage in front of an enthralled crowd that packed the main theatre of the Confederation Centre of the Arts.
"I have two young grandsons who are everything in the world to me,'' he said, fighting back tears.
"It's all about them.''
Before the award-winning Canadian broadcaster took to the stage to deliver a call to action to save the planet from ruin, Suzuki sat down with The Guardian for a chat not short on colorful wording or alarming assessment.
"The crux of my message is we're in a big crunch,'' he said.
"In the next few years, what we do or do not do is going to determine whether we survive as a species and it's not like thousands of years from now.''
He told the largest crowd to ever gather for the annual National Symons Lecture on the State of the Canadian Confederation that the dire forecasts of many experts are both frightening and realistic.
Sir Martin Rees, one of the eminent scientists in England, gives the unsettling odds of 50/50 that any human beings will be left on earth by 2100.
While Suzuki wouldn't offer his own forecast, he was clear in hammering home his scientific view that the path we all are currently traveling needs to change course dramatically.
"If you look at what we have not done even though the warnings have been coming for 40 years, you have to conclude we are a suicidal species,'' he told The Guardian.
"We are just going right over the edge of the cliff.''
He struck a somewhat softer tone in concluding his speech to the more than 1,000 people crammed into the Homburg Theatre and the audience tuning in to a live web stream.
"There is a great deal of hope but it's urgent that we get going on it,'' he said to thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
Suzuki says individuals can do plenty to reduce their own environmental footprint, such as conserving water and turning off lights.
But what he most wants to see is the public get "very involved'' in politics.
Governments must realize, he warns, that the economy cannot trump ecology or the environment.
Clean air, clean water and clean soil, he stresses, is essential to our survival. So air, water and soil cannot continue to be used as toxic dumps.
"We live in the biosphere. It is finite.''
Suzuki is a scientist clearly disgusted and disillusioned with the current federal government, particularly with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He calls Harper's government the most hostile he has ever encountered.
Suzuki says Harper, the only prime minister to decline him a personal meeting, continues to demonstrate an "astonishing display of insensitivity'' towards critical environmental issues like climate change.
He says Harper has turned Canada into "an international outlaw" by turning its back on the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement linked to the United Nations framework convention on climate change.
Premier Robert Ghiz even took a shot from Suzuki who noted Islanders bombarded him with requests to speak out against Plan B. He told the crowd he is not familiar with the issue than turned to the premier to deliver a jibe.
"Mr. Ghiz, it's your problem, not mine,'' he said, drawing a loud burst of laughter and applause.