Friday, July 12, 2013

David Suzuki: A privileged head in the sand.

David Suzuki's latest (and maybe most pig-headed) claim: Canada is "full," and to continue allowing more people in is "crazy."

A quick look at population densities around the world shows that they go as high as 20,000 people per square kilometer, with an average world population density of 53 people per square kilometer. Canada is the 228th densest country on the list with a population density of four people per square kilometer. That's a funny definition of "full."

Suzuki's concerns about eliminating usable space and using up arable land for housing, which would render us dependent on trade with the world are a combination of problems we shouldn't spend our time worrying about and perceived problems based on outdated assumptions about how we use land and on the assumption that how we use land will never change. Even though it already has.

We are doing the things that we do in far less space than we used to do them. The globalised food supply and modern farming techniques mean we use less land to grow more food (our problems with sourcing, trading and distributing it freely notwithstanding), and we could fit the population of the whole world in Texas with density levels that have been achieved in Manhattan. The developed world's forest cover is increasing, not decreasing, which is why forests are making a comeback.

It's been obvious for a long time that Suzuki lacks not only imagination and faith in human ingenuity, but the willingness to acknowledge what we've already achieved. These concerns aren't new, and we're already addressing them with technology and trade.

But important as tree cover and wetlands and food are, more important - and what makes Suzuki's comments inexcusable - is the human misery that would be caused by the developed world declaring itself full and self-sufficient and closing its borders. More children would be born doomed to go blind without access to nutritious food, or to a life of oppression because they are (for instance) a woman born in the wrong place, or to a life of poverty and the terrible uncertainty that comes with it because there are no opportunities to interact with and move about the world. There would be no hope of escape. No hope of a life like the one Suzuki lives.

That's the main problem with what Suzuki said. It's factually wrong, certainly, but more importantly it ignores problems he's only able to ignore because of the successes the system he purports to hate have granted him. He should be ashamed for closing his eyes, plugging his ears, stomping his feet and insisting that we block those opportunities for others.

Adapted from and inspired by Facebook comments here

1 comment:

Matthias Macfarlane said...

Canada is "full". Well, isn't that just a typical remark from a tolerant Progressive.

Maybe Dr. Fruitfly should do the "correct" thing and step off, along with a few hundred thousand other Gaia-loving granola munchers who think the human race is a "scourge" on the Earth. They should do the honorable thing, set the example and sacrifice themselves for "the greater good".