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WATCH: Greening The Heartland Conference: Address by Detroit City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr.

WATCH: Greening The Heartland Conference: Address by Environmental Activist David Suzuki Ph.D.

WATCH: Greening The Heartland Conference: David Suzuki Address -- Part Two

WATCH: Greening The Heartland Conference: David Suzuki Address -- Part Three

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Local News / Environment

Wednesday, 3 June, 2009 6:12 PM

David Suzuki calls for change at the 2009 Greening The Heartland Conference

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

David Suzuki addresses the Greening The Heartland conference.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- David Suzuki is an environmental activist and the television host of "The Nature of Things" on CBC in Canada. He was the keynote speaker on Monday at the 2009 Greening The Heartland Conference, held inside Detroit's Cobo Center. Suzuki spoke about a number of topics including the environment, the economy, shopping, the information age and sustainability. The activist said everyone needs to reduce their ecological footprint to continue living in a healthy world.

The environmental activist said he had a life-changing experience after visiting the Detroit Zoo. "We have an enormous ecological footprint," Suzuki said during the conference.

"Can we continue with a fossil fuel future?" he asked during his speech. "All attention has shifted to focus on the economy. Our carbon dioxide blanket is getting thicker. The oceans are in unbelieveable shape. We are fishing down the food chain. The consequences look horrific. In 20 years, there will not be a large forest intact."

Suzuki said humans have used air, water and soil as "a toxic dump." He added that humans have used the planet "in a reckless manner." The television host said that human beings are now the most numerous mammal on earth. Suzuki also discussed Americans and their love to shop.

"Seventy percent of the American economy depends on consumption," he said. "We now go and consume for the wants in life...Those aren't necessities. The human brain is the key to our success."

The environmental activist said people shouldn't be living in New Orleans since half of the city is below sea level and is vulnerable for hurricanes. Suzuki said Katrina verified what scientists were saying for years. "We are headed down a very dangerous path," he said.

"So much information is coming at us," said Suzuki of the internet and the digital age. The television host said you can find a website to support just about every opinion and it's hard to determine what information is factual and what is not. "The big challenge is how to teach young people how to navigate this stuff. We've got to be more critical about the information we consume."

Suzuki used the example of Twitter, a website that allows people to tell others what they are doing in 140 words or less. "Our attention span gets shorter and shorter. We want our info in shorter and shoter bigs. A huge shift in the way we live."

The television host said there was six billion people in the world in 2000. Of those, 80 percent live in big cities. Suzuki said Americans were once farmers and are now big city dwellers.

"It is urgent that we have to act now to reduce our ecological footprint," he said. "We can have sustainability within a generation."

Detroit City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. spoke about the city's move toward being more environmentally friendly. "Some buildings are not as energy-efficient as they could be," he said. Cockrel said the city is focusing on creating urban gardening and farming on the city's east side. The city council president said he would continue to do much of the work he started as mayor, after Kwame Kilpatrick resigned.

"We announced a first-ever curbside recycling program," Cockrel said. "We're getting ready to catch up. We're moving toward a complete citywide recycling program." The city council president also spoke about the addition of more bike paths in the city.

Susan Mortel, Director of the Bureau of Transportation for the Michigan Department of Transportation, spoke about the government agency's recent improvements to streetscapes. She showed a presentation of the different areas that received upgrades including Gratiot Avenue in Detroit. "There is a great deal of unhappiness in the transportation system," Mortel said.

The Greening The Heartland conference will move to Minneapolis in 2010.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A close-up of David Suzuki

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Susan Mortel of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) also addressed the conference.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Detroit City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. addresses the conference.

 

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