Readers of this blog have expressed surprise that eco icon David Suzuki has himself fathered five children. This reaction is understandable. After all, in the introduction to his 20-year-old doomsday book, It’s A Matter of Survival, Suzuki declares:

.there are too many of us; we consume too much; we pollute too much.

Elsewhere in the book he laments the fact that:

One Indian is born every 1.2 seconds; that’s 72 000 a day, more than the entire population of Canada in one year.

And he quotes perpetual pessimist Lester Brown:

Rapid population growth is beginning to overwhelm local life support systems [in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America], leading to ecological deterioration and declining living standards. Population growth and falling incomes are reinforcing each other.

Back here in the real world, however, a 2010 report for the Asian Development Bank tells us that incomes actually increased substantially since Suzuki’s book appeared, and that hundreds of millions of souls have been rescued from poverty in Asia alone:

Developing Asia’s middle class has increased rapidly in size and purchasing power as strong economic growth in the past two decades has helped reduce poverty significantly and lift previously poor households into the middle class. By 2008, it had risen to 56% of the population or nearly 1.9 billion people up from 21% in 1990. [bold added, p. 2]

But to return to the matter of Suzuki’s offspring, his 2006 autobiography discusses the birth of each of them. On page 41 he reports that “Tamiko was born in January 1960, a wonderful surprise who took over my life.” On page 52 he writes: “Besides Tamiko we now had Troy, born in 1962.” And on page 95 we read:

Laura was conceived before Joane and I had agreed to separate. She was born prematurely, on July 4, 1964.

On page 97, Suzuki tells us about a speech he delivered in December 1971 to Carleton university students. In the audience was “a sensationally beautiful woman” with “long, blonde hair, a full mouth, and high cheekbones”. She was 22 at the time. He was 35. A year later, they married.

On page 108 he tells us about the birth of Severn and, on the following page, about the birth of Sarika.

So there is no doubt about it. None of his children were adopted. Nor are they step-kids. Rather, a man who spends his time preaching that humans are desecrating the environment due to our sheer numbers nevertheless indulged himself five times in this regard.

Which makes Bill McKibben, who says that his own decision to father only one child is directly connected to his environmental concerns, look positively principled by comparison.



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