Tasha Kheiriddin: David Suzuki’s ‘blown up’ pipelines comment is a winking incitement to eco-terrorism

, Tasha Kheiriddin: David Suzuki’s ‘blown up’ pipelines comment is a winking incitement to eco-terrorism, Nzuchi Times National News

It’s depressing to see an icon like Suzuki disappear further down the rabbit hole

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It’s official: David Suzuki has jumped the shark. At a protest by the extremist anti-fossil fuels group Extinction Rebellion and a subsequent interview with CHEK News, Suzuki said “We’re in deep, deep doo-doo … This is what we’re come to. The next stage after this, there are going to be pipelines blown up if our leaders don’t pay attention to what’s going on.”

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While Suzuki later told the National Post that he does not support blowing up pipelines, he cannot be naïve enough to believe his “warning” could not have consequences. It’s like U.S. President Donald Trump admonishing an angry crowd, “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,” in the hours before the mob stormed the Capitol. Wink wink, not inciting anyone, just expressing an opinion, nothing to see here.

Except it’s not just expressing an opinion. As Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon rightly pointed out , “David Suzuki is so out of touch with the real world that he advocates for eco-terrorism … towards Canadian people and industries — this is completely unacceptable and extremely reckless.” Premier Jason Kenney, no doubt grateful for any distraction from his present troubles, tweeted “This incitement to violence by David Suzuki is dangerous, and should be condemned universally. In Canada we resolve our differences peacefully and democratically, not with threats of terrorism or acts of violence.”

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While the situation in British Columbia is devastating and heartwrenching, it will not be improved by acts of eco-terrorism. The term was coined in 1983 by writer Ron Arnold referring to “a crime committed to save nature,” in reference to acts by figures such as Unabomber Ted Kaczynski , who killed three people and injured two dozen others in the name of anti-industrialization. Eco-terrorism recently made headlines in connection with President Joe Biden’s new Bureau of Land Management director, Tracy Stone-Manning, who as a student was involved with an extremist group called Earth First, penning a letter to the US Forest Service in 1989 in which she warned “P.S. You bastards go in there anyway and a lot of people could get hurt.”

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For those of us who grew up on The Nature of Things, and who care about both the environment and the economy, it’s depressing to see an icon like Suzuki disappear further down the rabbit hole. It’s been hard enough to take him seriously ever since the Toronto Sun reported that a man who calls on others to limit their carbon footprint owns four houses, including a mansion in Vancouver and a property co-owned by a fossil fuels company. Suzuki also has five children, something Extinction Rebellion would no doubt frown on, having inspired the Birthstrike movement of women who refuse to reproduce so as not to exacerbate climate change.

, Tasha Kheiriddin: David Suzuki’s ‘blown up’ pipelines comment is a winking incitement to eco-terrorism, Nzuchi Times National News

The reality is that until and unless humanity finds a reliable and scalable replacement for fossil fuels, blowing up pipelines will not accomplish a thing. Alternatives are on the horizon: electrification will help, but has its own environmental impacts due to battery production and disposal. Hydrogen is a possible contender but the technology is years away from mass deployment. In the meantime, energy companies are diligently working on carbon capture and responsible extraction to minimize the impact of fossil fuel use.

Instead of warning of violence if “leaders don’t pay attention,” Suzuki should support the efforts by both the public and private sector to solve the problem. Doom, gloom and eco-terrorism won’t save the planet, but ingenuity, technology and optimism just might.