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Scientist Tells Bill Moyers That Letting Climate Change Happen Is an 'Intergenerational Crime'

Leading scientist David Suzuki sounds the alarm on the climate crisis.

Photo Credit: BillMoyers.com; Screenshot / Vimeo.com


This week, as the White House issued a landmark report detailing the frightening affects of global warming on our country and President Obama took to the airwaves to drive home that message, Bill Moyers talks with a scientist who has sounded the alarm for decades.

For nearly 35 years, David Suzuki has brought science into the homes of millions on the Canadian television series, “The Nature of Things.” He has become a godfather of the environmental movement, and in a poll of his fellow Canadians last fall he was named that country’s most admired figure. Nonetheless, his outspoken views on climate change and the government’s collusion with the petrochemical industry in developing Canada’s oil-rich tar sands have made him the target of relentless attacks from his nation’s prime minister, corporations and right-wing ideologues.

“Our politicians should be thrown in the slammer for willful blindness. ... I think that we are being willfully blind to the consequences for our children and grandchildren. It’s an intergenerational crime,” Suzuki tells Moyers.


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Bill Moyers: Welcome. When David Suzuki was born, his Japanese-Canadian father worried that his son’s diminutive size would put him at a disadvantage in the world. So he named him after little David of the Old Testament, the young warrior who slew the mighty Philistine giant Goliath and became the King of Israel.

Suzuki’s father would live long enough to realize with pride that his son had lived up to his name. David Suzuki has become famous around the world for using science to fight the predatory giants who ravage the earth for profit.

David Suzuki [in 1992]: I can tell you everybody who looks at that knows in the pit of your stomach this is wrong. You do not treat Mother Earth this way.

BM: Now he’s in the fiercest and most urgent battle of his long life – to reverse the warming of our planet caused by the global emissions of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

It’s an uphill struggle. Just this week the White House released the latest National Climate Assessment, which reports that global warming is real, that “summers are longer and hotter and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced.”

This is far from the first time David Suzuki has witnessed the worst but carried on the battle. His childhood was spent in a Canadian internment camp during World War II. Facing lingering bigotry after the war, the family was forced out of British Columbia and moved to Ontario. After getting his Ph.D. in zoology at the University of Chicago, David again encountered racial intolerance, this time in the segregated American south when he did postdoctoral work in genetics at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Undeterred, he began a 40-year teaching career in higher education.