Severn Cullis-Suzuki: “We can’t wait for the leadership of someone like Trump. If we do, we’re finished”

What if climate change permanently alters life on Earth before we find the collective will to do anything definitive about it? If we knew the risk but did nothing ­- what will we tell our children or grandchildren someday?

Severn Cullis-Suzuki shocked the UN Earth Summit into speechlessness when she first asked them to take action 25 years ago – at the tender age of 12. She is still fighting the fight to save the planet today.

“Somewhere along the way, we dropped our long-term core survival strategy. That our lives are only one step in the great march of time,” she told the Nordic Business Forum on Monday.

“Somehow our current iteration of our global operating system, our globalized growth-focused economy has developed in opposition to life on Earth. We have to bring human values back to being the main organizing principles of human society. We love, we can be selfless, we can show boundless generosity, and we can care for others. Let us bring back our humanity.”

She warns that after years of ineffective action, the tipping point is now upon us. Scientists are finding a consensus that since the mid-20th-century life on Earth has entered a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene, signified by the commencement of significant human impact on the planet’s ecosystems.

One central tenant of this shift is marked by what is known as the sixth major extinction, also triggered by human activities.

The Canadian environmental activist told her captive audience that the climate change the Earth is now facing is nothing short of an intergenerational crime.

She says there is one silver bullet, however, something she hopes will be the one takeaway her listeners will glean from her talk: diversity.

“Diversity is the name of the game. We must make increasing diversity the driving principle of all that we do,” she said.

She refuses to be pessimistic, as she said it is human nature to innovate and survive. She said the secret is to look back on our various culture’s ancient wisdoms, and move from quarterly thinking to thinking about seven generations down the road.

After her presentation ended, moderator Richard Quest asked a question from the audience: “Do you believe that the US will leave Paris?” referring to US President Donald Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Earlier Cullis-Suzuki said that the biggest single obstacle to “summon the collective ancient wisdom” is political will, due to the dearth of leadership at top levels. Even so, her immediate answer to Quest’s query was defiant.

“We can’t let it matter! We have to do what is right for us. The world must take over. We can’t wait for the leadership of someone like Trump. If we do, we’re finished. It’s clear.”


More articles to read

Adam Grant: How to harness the power of non-conformists

James Hansen - Nordic Business Forum 2017

James Hansen: Make fossil fuel prices honest