The question remains: What accounts for David Suzuki's silence?

On September 22, 2006 an Australian interviewer asked Dr. David Suzuki on public airways, "Are you saying that Australia is overpopulated?" Suzuki replied, "You bet".

To date, May 28, 2008, he has not given any indication that it is his belief that Canada is overpopulated. Publicly that is. Privately he has revealed to the Population Institute of Canada by correspondence that that indeed is his position. But he won't take a public stance. Why not?

He knows that Canada has a limited carrying capacity. He has spoken of it many times. His foundation is aware that only 7% of our land base is arable, and that land is marginal by West European standards. And the Suzuki Foundation knows that a fifth of our best farmland has been built upon. So why hasn't he spoken out? He can go down to Australia and tell them they are overpopulated, but he can't tell us that we are overpopulated?

Tim Flannery had the guts―at one time―to tell the truth about Australia's carrying capacity. But Canada's opposite number doesn't. That is the difference.

Perhaps someone can interview Flannery here in Canada and get him to tell the truth to Canadians―since no one of eminence or credibility with a Canadian passport has the courage to be candid about population growth in the country.

The ball is in your court: Hard questions for Soft Greens

You say you’re OK with the idea of reducing our population. But you are not comfortable with immigration cut-backs. Birth control, more abortion services, tax incentives for fewer children are fine. But your parents, or grand-parents, or friends are immigrants and by the way, aren’t mine too? The problem is, all the measures you would agree to would do little to reverse population growth in North America. Immigration accounts for 70% of American population growth and two-thirds of Canada’s. Without immigration, population in both countries levels off. If immigration persists at current rates, the USA will see one billion citizens and Canada 70 million by century’s end. But you’re just not comfortable about dealing with immigration in a country of 33 million people. Will you be comfortable dealing with it when we reach Jack Layton’s goal of 40 million—shared by other federal leaders? Will you be comfortable with no immigration freeze at 50 million? 60 million? 70 million? At what point would you be willing to concede that we had exceeded our carrying-capacity in Canada? DO YOU EVEN ACCEPT THAT WE HAVE A “CARRYING CAPACITY” IN CANADA?” According to Millenium Assessment findings 60% of 24 ecosystem services were being degraded unsustainably over the past 50 years. There is a fundamental conflict between economic growth and ecosystem services and between economic growth and biodiversity conservation. Economic growth is a function of population level and per capita consumption. You say you want to reduce consumption. Great. But you apparently want to take population growth out of the equation. Absurd. Paul Ehrlich’s old “IPAT” formula still applies. When assessing environmental impact, its I (Impact)= P(Population)X A(Affluence or Consumption) X T for Technology. Biologist Neil Dawe of the Qualicum Institute, in the most optimistic guess I’ve read, said that biodiversity could probably subsist alongside Canada’s current population of 32 million---if we consumed at the level we did in 1950. Do you think that’s likely? You speak of hybrid cars, solar panels, windmills and retro-fits. How far toward 1950 will that get us? And when Jack Layton’s dream comes true—very shortly—and we have 40 million Canadians, will we then need to consume at the level of 1935? How “green” would consumers have to get to erase the damage that that extra 8 million consumers will inflict on the environment? And we haven’t yet talked about that great sacred cow of Canadian political discourse---REFUGEES. Oh dear me, we can’t keep them out, can we? OK then, how many? The UN says there are 15- 50 million right now. How many of these are we going to take in? 1 million? 5 million? 10 million? That’s just for starters. Along comes global warming and rising sea levels. Al Gore says that around the city of Shanghai alone 40 million people will be displaced. Multiply that a hundred times around the world. Where will your bleeding heart take us then? You call yourself an “environmentalist”. Your politics are “green”. But your concern for people obviously takes priority over your self-proclaimed concern for nature. Trouble is, nature is in the driver’s seat. Whatever number of people you want to admit to Canada is academic. It’s what the ecosystem will sustain. And with 33 million people, it’s not bearing up very well. To repeat , 60% of 24 ecosystem “services” are degraded. Your human rights agenda will come right up against biodiversity collapse. Its called a “Limiting Factor”. There is a limit, yes even in Canada, to population growth and to the economic growth it propels. And when push comes to shove, there will also be a limit to our compassion. Or to put it another way, our compassion toward the world will no longer come at the expense of our compassion to our own families, our community, our own nation, and the biodiversity that sustains us all. So the ball’s in your court, soft green. You won’t face up to the need for population stabilization. You would prefer runaway population growth to immigration cut-backs and an open-ended refugee policy without regard to the environmental consequences of such a course. Apparently, for you, the sky’s the limit. All we need do is be good little “green” consumers and reduce our footprint just a little bit more for each new entrant to the country. Now tell me how this is all supposed to work. How is biodiversity supposed to co-exist with 40, 50, 70 million Canadian consumers, however “green” they are? How do you reduce green-house emissions when you substantially increase the population. Tony Blair’s bold plan was to reduce emissions with tough new standards by 20% over 10 years. Instead, emissions increased 3% ! Why? Because although factories and cars spewed less noxious gas, economic and population growth increased the number of factories and cars! Back to square one! Numbers do matter. Until you cope with these questions, soft green, you are, in my estimation, a counterfeit green. And in your estimation I am, no doubt, all of those nasty adjectives in the politically correct lexicon—a callous, xenophobic, misanthropic, deep ecologist with a fortress mentality and a hidden “racist” agenda. It’s OK. I’m used to it. The race card always gets played when all other arguments fail. I’m inclined to believe that what was said of patriotism is true of anti-racism—it’s the last refuge of scoundrels. Tim Murray