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L’environnementalisme, un contre-pouvoir qui échoue globalement

Un texte intéressant qui révèle une partie des raisons pour lesquelles l’environnementalisme en général est un mouvement de contre-pouvoir qui, malgré de nombreux succès, échoue globalement à résoudre les vrais problèmes de société.

Tout est toujours à recommencer ailleurs parce que que l’environnementalisme ne s’attaque qu’aux effets des symptômes locaux, à leur communication et à l’opposition et jamais à leurs causes profondes qui sont globalement généralisées au système social lui-même.

L’IRASD présente ici des extraits pertinents de cette entrevue avec David Suzuki publiée en novembre 2013 et qui fait fait beaucoup de bruit par la suite. Plusieurs observations de déviances comportementales sociales induites par un faible niveau de connaissances y sont révélées.

Mais rien n’est réglé et le mouvement se poursuit toujours dans la même direction sans approfondir le sujet environnemental afin d’en identifier les causes systémiques profondes.

L’IRASD poursuit ses recherches pour identifier les stratégies comportementales décisionnelles politiques, industrielles et économiques qui mènent toujours la civilisation à faire des mauvais choix dont les impacts sur l’environnement et le climat forcent les environnementalistes à un combat sans fin.

Environmentalism has failed! – Maclean’s


David Suzuki’s scientific career began in the late 1950s; his media one, a decade later. Since 1979, he’s been the face of CBC’s The Nature of Things, an internationally distributed science program that’s now in its 53rd season. Suzuki’s official CV runs 17 pages. It lists dozens of academic and broadcasting awards as well as his 25 honorary degrees. Now a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, he has authored or collaborated on 50 books. In 2011, Reader’s Digest anointed him as its “most trusted Canadian.” And this October, he topped an Angus Reid poll of the country’s most admired figures, with 57 per cent of respondents giving him the thumbs up.

“Environmentalism has failed,” Suzuki declared in a dark blog post in the spring of 2012. The heady victories of the 1970s and ’80s over air pollution, acid rain, and clearcut logging are distant memories. The oil and gas industry has never been stronger, sinking ocean wells, fracking across the continent, and going full-bore on Alberta’s oil sands. Meanwhile, the fight against climate change has come to a virtual halt, as governments around the world put the economy ahead of the environment. “We’ve come to a point where things are getting worse, not better,” he said in an interview with Maclean’s.

“I’ve had a belly full of fighting. We’ve got to stop the fighting,” he pleaded at one point. The message that he has been delivering for four decades is no longer getting through. And time is running short. “I hope there’s a happy ending. That’s all I have left. Hope.”

Suzuki believes the muck-throwing is part of a wider trend where experts are now being painted as adversaries. “Scientists are being portrayed by much of the power structure in politics and business as having a vested interest—that they’re just out to get more grant money by exaggerating the threats,” he says. He decided to resign from his foundation in the spring of 2012 because he feared it would be targeted for a tax audit by the Harper government and might lose its charitable status. (More than 900 environmental groups have had their books scrutinized over the last couple of years for evidence of large foreign donations or excessive spending on political activities.) “I wanted to protect the foundation,” says Suzuki. “And at my stage in life, I simply found it intolerable to have to hold back on what I say.”

By the late 1960s, Suzuki had established himself as a budding scientific superstar. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada awarded him as one of the country’s top young minds. He was invited to teach for a semester at the University of California at Berkeley, where he discovered and embraced the counter- culture. CBC Television harnessed his new persona—at once hip and geeky—first for a series of specials, then giving him his own weekly Suzuki on Science show. In 1975, he moved to radio, becoming the first host of Quirks and Quarks. A year later, he was named to the Order of Canada.

Suzuki’s strength has always been his ability to translate the world of science for the layperson, cutting through the jargon and breaking down complex ideas into digestible television bites. At the height of its popularity in the mid-1980s, The Nature of Things was drawing a weekly audience of 1.3 million, or almost 20 per cent of all Canadian view- ers. And the entire series was being broadcast in 13 countries, including the U.S., with 55 more nations picking up individual episodes. That success is what made David Suzuki a trusted global brand. He still defines himself as a geneticist, but it’s been decades since he was an active researcher or has even taught in a university setting. And his role as science’s interpreter was long ago supplanted by his calling as environmental evangelist.

Suzuki traces his own awakening back to The Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s ground- breaking 1962 book. But his beliefs really came to the fore in the early ’80s, as he joined in the fight against clear-cut logging in what was then the Queen Charlotte Islands, now Haida Gwaii. “It was a totally unequal battle. The important things that forests do—like pro- viding air—weren’t included in the economic equation.”

Suzuki soon became one of the green movement’s most visible champions. In 1991, he and a group of friends founded the David Suzuki Foundation, a non-profit that pro- motes environmental causes and education. In 1992, he spoke at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. That slow creep into the spotlight provided lots of ammunition for his critics. Around that time, the Globe and Mail dropped him as columnist, suggesting he had become too preachy, and then produced a scorching feature that painted him as a “media-wise politician” in a lab coat.

But those who know Suzuki well say there’s nothing manufactured about his concerns. David Schindler, a professor of ecology at the University of Alberta, recalls a canoe trip through the north of the province, where Suzuki ended up taking a plane ride with some First Nations chiefs to check out the oil sands. “He came back and he was incensed, just beside himself. He said, ‘We’ve got to stop this thing,’ ” says Schindler. “He gets very angry about the environment and social injustices.”

Suzuki says he used to think that his TV work was drawing attention to important issues, that the content was the star. Over the years, however, his view has changed. He’s been stopped too many times in the airport, or on the street, and complimented on a show he’s never done. He now realizes that for most viewers, he’s the constant—that rather than being the messenger, he’s the oracle.

“I’ve never made any pretense of being Mr. Know-it-all,” says Suzuki. But that doesn’t change public expectations that he should be able to pronounce on every issue, and debate all comers. When Suzuki doesn’t have an answer, or messes up his facts, as he did on Australian television, it’s news. Somewhere along the way, people started to assume he was infallible. “To the extent that I’ve failed, that’s it,” he says. “I’ve somehow got to be smarter.”

There was a time when it seemed like the war to protect the Earth was almost over.
Back in 1988, George H.W. Bush, a conservative Republican, campaigned on a pledge to become “the environmental presi- dent.” Suzuki remembers Lucien Bouchard, then the federal environment minister, and the biggest star in Brian Mulroney’s cabinet, earnestly telling him that global warming was “a threat to the survival of our species.” But all these years later, green crusaders find themselves refighting, or even losing, battles they thought were over long ago. Stories about atmospheric CO2 concentrations reaching the highest level in recorded history, or UN warnings of a looming worldwide famine due to global warming, receive far less attention than the latest development in the Senate scandal or Rob Ford video. In an Internet age, even Suzuki’s own reach has shrunk. CBC is happy to talk about how many awards The Nature of Things has won, but it won’t discuss its ratings, which now hold steady at about 400,000 viewers.

“Many of the battles that we fought 30 or 35 years ago, that we celebrated as enormous successes . . . Thirty-five years later, the same damn battles have started again. That’s where I think we failed,” Suzuki says. “We fundamentally failed to use those battles to get that awareness, to shift the paradigm. And that’s been the failure of environmentalism.”

Nearing the end of the journey, Suzuki finds himself standing before yet another mountain. It’s frustrating, but he says he isn’t ready to give up. Is he worried about his legacy? “When I’m dead, I won’t give a s..t what they say about me. I’ll be dead,” he snorts. “I’m not thinking about legacy. My concern now is to get the message out, to get people to understand how serious this is.”

Some of his compatriots believe it’s already too late to save our species. Suzuki is more optimistic. Nature, if given the chance, will be more forgiving than we deserve, he says. All humans have to do is start paying attention to the flashing warning signs.

At his Toronto trial, the verdict on David Suzuki came back “Not guilty.” The news didn’t make the next day’s papers.


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