David Suzuki: Good News Keeps Coming

By Pankaj Tripathi

Dr. Suzuki says he is “in the death zone” and yet he is full of action, ideas and a zest for life.
Noted academic, broadcaster, author and environmentalist, he wears a number of hats simultaneously. Irrespective of the hat he is wearing at any given time, there are some things that are always present – ideas, passion and a genuine concern for the planet.

Speaking to a journalist, he once remarked, “Immigrants have an urge to prove it to themselves and so they work hard." A sentiment which has a strong resonance with every single immigrant that lands in this country to seek a new life.

Born in 1926, he is a geneticist who graduated from Amherst College (Massachusetts) in 1958 with an Honours BA in Biology, followed by a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Chicago. From 1963 to 2001 he served as a professor in the genetics department at the University of British Columbia. Somewhere along the way in the 70’s he discovered that “television was a very powerful way to educate people,” and he got “swept away into environmental issues”. In 1990 he founded the David Suzuki Foundation in order to focus on the following four critical areas: oceans and sustainable fishing, climate change and clean energy, sustainability, and the nature challenge.

He believes "other governments have boosted employment and economies by investing in and offering incentives for green energy technologies, such as solar, wind, wave and other renewable resources.” With the Green Energy Act and the FiT (Feed in Tariff) Program in place, he feels that “Ontario has done something very progressive. Germany has created tens and thousands of jobs in the renewable energy sector by implementing the Scheer’s law.” The Ontario FiT program is quite similar to the Scheer’s model of renewable energy generation, and will help deliver similar results in Canada as well.

For every million dollars invested in renewable energy, 14.1 -16.4 direct and indirect jobs are created. Dr. Suzuki is positive about Ontario’s FiT program, and feels it will help provide a source of clean renewable energy, while simultaneously boosting the economy and helping create jobs. The 2010 Ontario budget forecasts 50,000 jobs over three years, through the Green Energy Act 2009 and Feed in Tariff (FIT) implementation.

For this green shift to be successful, the job market (both primary and secondary) will require a large number of skilled technicians, handymen, trades people, engineers, planners, project managers, investors and other professionals. In order to meet the market requirements, the government and academic institutions are providing support to individuals who want to get trained in these fields. This presents an excellent opportunity for new immigrants to retrain and equip themselves with the right skills for gainful employment in this rapidly growing industry.

While on one hand the green economy presents an excellent opportunity for new immigrants to explore new career options, it also brings with it certain responsibilities in terms of lifestyle changes. They have an excellent opportunity to reshape their lives by making green choices, polluting less, conserving energy, and making eco-friendly lifestyle decisions. A sustainable environment and healthy economy go hand in hand.
Some niches in which green opportunities are emerging include: clean water technology, bio-gas, biomass power generation, photovoltaic energy, wind power, geothermal energy, waste management and recycling.

Scheer’s Law: Germany's Renewable Energy Sources Act obliges electricity distributors to buy power from renewable sources at up to seven times market rates, with the scale of the subsidy varying according to power source and declining gradually over the 20-year life of the tariff.