Radical environmentalism and "climate science" have become highly profitable for those who have taken upon themselves the role of the conscience of mankind. The hucksterism of our new-age evangelists has been preserved in amber in Sinclair Lewis’ Elmer Gantry, as pertinent today as it was in 1927. It’s a good read (and a great movie), exposing the confidence game of those who prey on the public’s gullibility, whether, like Gantry, they are selling farm equipment or flogging a seminarian’s version of probity—or in its current manifestation, appealing to the global conscience of the uninformed. As lucrative scams go, climate-and environment—or Big Green, for short—is hard to beat.
Readers will be familiar with some of the more notable Gantrys in the climate trade. Al Gore is probably the most prominent of the climate camarilla, with a carbon footprint of Sasquatch proportions and highly dubious credibility. A UK court ruled that his global warming movie, An Inconvenient Truth, contained at least nine salient falsehoods, in particular with respect to his claim that Hurricane Katrina was caused by global warming. The court found that the film was scientifically unsound and little more than a form of “political indoctrination.” In his book, Media Madness: The Corruption of our Political Culture, James Bowman cites Gore and “other self-appointed trustees of the alleged Global Warming crisis in the pressure group, the Alliance for Climate Protection, [who] make money which they can then use to influence real political events, such as elections.” I have provided a close reading complete with sources about the shenanigans of Gore, et al. in my 2012 monograph Global Warning.
Canada does not lack for its share of green-celebrity hypocrites. One remembers the late Maurice Strong, with a net worth of $100 million, a leader in the international environmental movement, president of the council of the University for Peace and executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme—activities which one would expect to militate against acquiring his fortune as an unrepentant capitalist and investor in the oil and mineral industry and as CEO of Petro-Canada and Ontario Hydro. Apparently, Strong never experienced a moment of cognitive dissonance or a single pang of conscience as he marched along the royal road to prestige, acclaim and wealth, investing handsomely in what he publicly condemned.
Strong’s practice and example pale before the exploits and influence of David Suzuki. A fruit fly geneticist by training who once compared human beings to maggots, Suzuki repurposed himself as Canada’s reigning environmentalist and climate guru, a beloved TV personality, and a counselor to humankind. With a personal fortune of $25 million, this mini-Al Gore, is one of the more conspicuous barkers in the Canadian media and environmental carnival who preached some 20 years ago that we had only ten years before environmental collapse. Yet his vaticinal authority remains intact among the naïve and impressionable since he offers a signal example of theocracy at work in the presumably scientific domain. After all, we must believe in something, however fraudulent.
A contemporary Savonarola, Suzuki expressed his inner totalitarian for all to see, stating on February 28, 2008 at a conference held at McGill University in Montreal that politicians should be jailed for denying “climate consensus.” Eight years later he was still on the moral rampage, declaring that then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper should serve prison time for “willful blindness” to global warming. True to form, Suzuki is a sworn enemy of Canada’s energy sector, comparing the oil sands industry in the province of Alberta to slavery, dismissing the devastating economic impact of its closure, and working to block every new pipeline proposal—for which the University of Alberta, an institution that stands most to lose from the assault against oil, has awarded him an honorary science degree. Go figure.
Suzuki has hosted The Nature of Things, a popular CBC television series, since 1979 and has gone on to almost every conceivable award and citation the world has to offer. Suzuki does look a bit like God in His Sistine incarnation, a resemblance which no doubt facilitates his attempt to remake the world in his own image. But journalist and author Ezra Levant claims with considerable credibility that Suzuki is profiting from multi-national American organizations that finance his campaigns against Canada’s oil sands production, as Vivian Krause shows in a damning exposé in the Financial Post from April 19, 2012.
According to Krause’s research, Suzuki has built his foundation with millions of U.S. dollars. The total value of the top 30 U.S. grants alone was US $9-million, equivalent to $13-million Canadian, including:
US$1.8-million from the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation (“Hewlett”), US$1.5-million from the David & Lucile Packard Foundation (“Packard”), US$1.7-million from the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation (“Moore”), US$1-million from the Wilburforce Foundation, US$955,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, US$930,000 from the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation and at least US$181,000 from the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts.
As far as I can tell, Suzuki’s largest Canadian donor is the Claudine & Stephen Bronfman Foundation, which has granted at least $6-million (2000-10). Since 2008, Power Corp., the Lefebvre Foundation and the Trottier Family Foundation have given annual donations of at least $1-million. Anonymous donors are also reported for $1-million or more. For 2010, the Sitka Foundation, run by Ross Beaty and his family, gave $407,000 and the Jim Pattison Foundation gave $200,000.
As the Toronto Sun reported in October 2013, “Green sage David Suzuki has some expensive tastes for someone who wants to shut down the carbon economy within a generation…. Suzuki, who’s made a name for himself fighting for the environment and against development, owns four homes, [including] a sprawling mansion in the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver, worth approximately $8.2 million.” According to the Sun, he also owns property on two Gulf Islands, Quadra and Nelson, sharing the latter with a fossil fuels company, Kootenay Oil Distributors.
In a defensive response a week later, the David Suzuki Foundation, whose corporate motto is "One Nature," retorted:
For starters, please note: David Suzuki is not the head of a corporation. The David Suzuki Foundation is a registered Canadian charity and David Suzuki has never been a paid staff member. In fact, he is one of our most generous donors and volunteers. He has lived in the same house for decades, a home he has shared with his in-laws and in which he has raised his daughters.
As for the claim that David owns land with an “oil company”, we did what journalists are supposed to do before running a story. We checked with the company’s owners, a couple living on the Sunshine Coast. They told us the husband’s father ran the company in the 1950s and ’60s to distribute oil to households and small businesses, mostly for furnaces. When the company folded, they used the assets to buy into co-owned land on remote Nelson Island, and it has not operated as anything other than a holding company since the late 1960s. David and a friend, who knew nothing about the company, bought into the property many years ago with the express purpose of protecting it from development. He has made other investments in real estate to provide for his retirement and family.
We would also like to take a moment to set the record straight: Although Sun Media consistently refers to David Suzuki as a saint, he isn’t. He has received many awards and honours, including being named a Companion of the Order of Canada, but he has not been sainted or knighted, and he’s human, not infallible. He’s a 77-year-old grandfather who has devoted his life to communicating the wonders of science and finding solutions for our shared environmental problems. But mostly he’s a human doing what he can to make a positive difference.
We find it strange that anyone would be opposed to protecting the air, water, land and biodiversity that we need for our health and survival, but recent attempts to tarnish the reputation of David Suzuki, as well as the Foundation and other environmental groups, show that some people view short-term profit for the fossil fuel industry as more important than protecting the planet.
It seems he can do no wrong and remains a revered icon to most Canadians, true believers who have drunk the climate Kool-Aid liberally served up by our do-gooder educators, social justice missionaries and the hallowed saviors of mankind who proliferate among us. Those for whom climate and environment have assumed the force of an ersatz religion have undertaken no sustained inquiry into the subject, dismissing contrary evidence as purely heretical and not worth consulting. They have followed neither the data nor the money trail. North America's Elmer Gantrys are home free.
Authoritative volumes like Elaine Dewar’s Cloak of Green (now rendered unaffordable), John Casey’s Dark Winter, Norman Rogers’ Dumb Energy and Bruce Bunker’s The Mythology of Global Warming: Climate Change Fiction vs. Scientific Facts, among many other excellent studies, have been placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum of the Church of Environmentalism. When the environmental acolytes and climate votaries rise to a position of authority, like our current prime minister, who is determined to phase out the oil and gas industry that is a central pillar of the economy, the damage they can do is incalculable.
And obviously, their efforts are abetted and empowered by the celebrity Greenies who have made their fortunes and reputations exploiting the rage for utopia that inspires the ignorant and deluded, those who seek perfection at the expense of reality. Suzuki is the poster boy for these enablers, the “go-to guy” for the country’s major political parties, in particular the Greens and the NDP. Suzuki famously feuded with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year over the pipeline issue:
It just shows what a joke the whole declaration of a climate emergency is. I mean, if it’s a climate emergency, first of all, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, I don’t think the Republicans said, “Oh, that damn Democratic president wants to take us to war and is going to destroy the economy.” Everybody joins together in that emergency. It’s got one purpose, which is to win the battle.
The battle here is in terms of the amount of carbon that’s accumulating in the atmosphere. We’re way beyond and heading to a total by the end of this century that really puts into question whether human beings, as a species, will be able to survive. It is a climate crisis, but we’ve been saying that for over 30 years. And all of the posturing that’s going on, from Mr. Trudeau being elected, and Mr. Harper, who was prime minister for 9 and a half years, who never once said climate is an issue that we’ve got to take seriously. He said reducing greenhouse gas emissions is “crazy economics.”
It’s all about politics. It’s not a serious commitment to meet the climate challenge. And approving the pipeline is only–you know, what do we expect?
But they've recently made up as Trudeau’s Alberta-bashing, pipeline-busting antics have moved into high gear. It should come as no surprise that Suzuki, who is riding out the COVID pandemic in his posh Quadra Island residence, appears to have welcomed the crisis and its restrictions.
I was looking up at the sky today, and it was filled with geese … we’ve had pods of killer whales coming through, and I have the sense that Mother Earth is saying, ‘Phew, thank God, these busy people are giving me a break,’” Suzuki said. “And I hope that people who live in places like Shanghai and Beijing, in Delhi or Bombay, are looking up and seeing what it can be like when air is the way it should be, invisible and odourless.
Such a childish fantasy should be enough to put the ancient oracle out to pasture, and the entire climate-and-environment boondoggle along with him. But, of course, it won't.