The Legacy: An Elders Vision for Our Sustainable Future

Paperback | July 11, 2011

byDavid SuzukiForeword byMargaret AtwoodOtherCo-Publisher: David Suzuki Foundation

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Now available in paperback, The Legacy represents the culmination of David Suzuki's knowledge and wisdom and his legacy for generations to come.

If he had to sum up all that he has learned in one last lecture, what would David Suzuki say? In this expanded version of the lecture that he delivered in December 2009 and that will be released as a film in 2010, Suzuki, one of the planet's preeminent elders, explains how we got where we are today and presents his vision for a better future.

In his own lifetime, Suzuki has witnessed an explosion of scientific knowledge as well as a huge change in our relationship with the planet—a tripling of the world's population, a greatly increased ecological footprint through the global economy, and a huge growth in technological capacity. These changes have had a dire effect on Earth's ecosystems and consequently on our own well-being. To deal with this crisis, we must realize that the laws of nature have priority over the forces of economics and that the planet simply cannot sustain unfettered growth. We must also recognize the limits of scientific reductionism and the need to adopt a more holistic point of view. Perhaps most important, we must join together as a single species to respond to the problems we face. Suzuki ends by saying that change begins with each of us; all it takes is imagination and a faith in the inherent generosity of Mother Earth. Also available in paperback.

Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.

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From the Publisher

Now available in paperback, The Legacy represents the culmination of David Suzuki's knowledge and wisdom and his legacy for generations to come.If he had to sum up all that he has learned in one last lecture, what would David Suzuki say? In this expanded version of the lecture that he delivered in December 2009 and that will be release...

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. Throughout her writing career, she has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. Atwood is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, children's literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:128 pages, 7.5 × 5.25 × 0.5 inPublished:July 11, 2011Publisher:Greystone Books Ltd.Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1553658280

ISBN - 13:9781553658283

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From Chapter 2So now the challenge is to get things right. First we have to recognize that our world is shaped by such factors as gravity, the speed of light, entropy, the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics - these are forces of nature and they impose limitations on the way we live. Another is the biosphere, the source of all we need to survive and flourish so protecting its health has to be our highest priority.Other things like capitalism, free enterprise, the economy, markets or currency are not natural, we created them and if they are not working, we can change them . But like dragons and demons of old, the economy has come to be treated as if it were a real thing before which we must all bow down.That's why businesspeople and politicians tell me that I "have to be realistic, the economy is the bottomline". I was once told by an environment minister that "Environmentalists should understand we can't afford to protect the environment without a strong growing economy". So even a minister of the environment, whose job is to protect it, bows before the economy as the highest priority. Ever since becoming the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, like former U.S. President Bush and former Australian prime minister, John Howard, has said that we cannot reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet Kyoto because of its negative effects on the economy. Let us remember that economics and ecology are derived from the same Greek word, oikos, meaning household or domain. Ecology is the study of home while economics is its management. Ecologists try to determine the conditions and principles that enable life to survive and flourish. By elevating the economy above ecological principles, we think we are immune to the laws of natureThis human-created entity - the economy - is therefore fundamentally flawed, so flawed that it is inevitably destructive. For example, in battles over forests, coral reefs or wetlands, environmentalists are often forced to argue in the economic realm. Thus, while the forest industry may claim the obvious economic benefits of jobs, lumber and pulp, environmentalists must counter with the possible monetary value of potential medicines, new genetic material for crops, harvesting of fruits and nuts, or tourism. Yet the reality is forests perform "services" that maintain the conditions necessary for all life. Forests store and pump out water, regulating weather and climate; they remove carbon dioxide from the air and generate oxygen by photosynthesis; and they provide essential habitat to countless other species. Such "ecosystem services" are priceless: they keep the planet healthy for animals like us, but they are ignored by conventional economists as "externalities". Let's put the eco back into economics.Our lives are absolutely dependent on clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy and biodiversity, without them, we sicken and die. Yet the economy is built on extracting raw materials from the biosphere and pouring wastes back into it. So disregarding nature and her services is ultimately suicidal, yet it's exactly what conventional economics does. (The tragedy - and the opportunity - is that if done properly, many renewable resources can be harvested indefinitely.)But there's a second major problem with conventional economics. Economists believe that human inventiveness and productivity are the very core of the economy. And since human imagination and inventiveness are limitless, they believe there are no barriers to the economy; so economic growth has become the barometer of political and corporate success. Ask any politician or corporate executive how well they did last year and chances are, their answer will be based on growth in market share, profit or GDP.But by itself, growth is nothing. It is just describes the state of a system. How can it be the end or purpose of an economy? It is the context within which growth occurs that is all important. Our bodies too. require endless production of blood cells to replace the ones that die. But unbridled growth in any part of the body is, of course, cancer and is impossible to sustain in the human body or any system within the biosphere. And by focussing on growth, we fail to ask "How much is enough?", "What are the limits?", "Are we happier with all this growth?" and "What is an economy for?"

Table of Contents

Foreword by Margaret AtwoodIntroduction1. Evolution of a Superspecies2. Finding a New Path3. A Vision for the FutureAcknowledgementsSources for QuotesReferencesAbout David Suzuki

Editorial Reviews

“Suzuki locates his vision of nature’s order even more deeply, as an 'elder,' in the healing resources of aboriginal wisdom... The imaginative reach of Suzuki’s earth-vision grounded in scientific fact is astounding. Single sentences can change our perceptions of space and time ranging from the pre-Cambrian era to future millennia... to this reader, Suzuki’s grasp of the magic, profound complexity of nature’s underlying matrix is the strength of his new book.”Telegraph Journal“Suzuki, one of the planet’s best-known environmentalists, explains how earth got where it is today and presents his vision for a better future...The Legacy encapsulates Suzuki’s thoughts, philosophies and hopes for a sustainable future.”Arabella Magazine“David Suzuki is one of the loudest voices in the global green community, and is surely the elder statesman of Canadian environmentalism. Suzuki adds to an already impressive body of work with The Legacy.”Quill & Quire“The book reads as if Suzuki is speaking to you, taking you by the hand on a journey...[It] is a summary of some of the big concepts that are being thrown around in the media today. It takes them, simplifies them for the everyday reader and makes them easy to digest. Not surprisingly, it’s written in a way that can be easily digested by teens.”Green Living“With environmental crises facing the planet—climate change, ocean acidification and loss of biodiversity, to name a few—Suzuki says this is the time to act. The Legacy is part autobiography, part history, part basic science—and above all, a plea for the planet. Buy it.”National Post“The Legacy is part autobiography, part history, part basic science—and above all, a plea for the planet.”Montreal Gazette“Readers…will find Suzuki's tangential musings on subjects like argon molecules, shrinking swordfish, or the role of salmon in fertilizing forests some of the book's best reading…at the core of his writing lurks a scientist's wonder at the world, and a compelling sincerity that makes you believe—or at least, want to believe—[there is] still some hope for this muddled planet.”Winnipeg Free Press""The 'legacy' in this lecture is one of truthful words about the hard place we're in, but it's also one of hopeful words: our chance if we will take it for 'opportunity, beauty, wonder and companionship with the rest of creation.' My hope is that we ourselves will emulate David Suzuki and leave legacies in our turn.""Margaret Atwood""Occasionally we encounter someone who appeals to the better angels of our nature and reminds us of values we once held dear. For me that person was David Suzuki. It was a privilege and a joy collaborating with him on this project for the past two years and I take great pride in the result.""Sturla Gunnarsson