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David Suzuki and the University of Alberta

Frank Atkins

Political correctness has slowly but surely taken over us all. A family friend recently sent a text that contained the phrase “my silly First World problems,” and on a recent visit this same person went on in detail about her white privilege. The problem here is not that she holds these opinions; in my mind, people can believe anything they want, as long as they are willing to defend their opinions when questioned. The problem is that I am not supposed to question these opinions, so defence is not needed. Rather, I am just supposed to accept them as some kind of a universal truth.

The holy grail of this sort of political correctness is the topic of man-made global warming. Amongst the greenies in particular, and most of the population in general, questioning of this so-called scientific consensus opinion is strictly forbidden. This dogma is now taught in our schools as an undeniable truth that should be corrected, so we are raising a generation of eco-warriors. Apparently, teaching methodology has degenerated from trying to teach children how to think to teaching them what they should think.

The whole question of man-made global warming has long been dominated by the celebrity doom-and-gloom crowd, led by, amongst many others, Al Gore and David Suzuki. What has been lost in all of this Armageddon talk is the concept of trade-offs. It would be impossible to produce goods and services without causing some environmental changes of some sort. So, I agree with the reasonable greenies that we should try to minimize these environmental effects of production.

The problem here is that people like David Suzuki seem to want to shut down oil production completely, as they see fossil fuels as the main culprit of man-made global warming. What Dr. Suzuki seems to fail to understand, or refuses to believe, is that shutting down the fossil fuel industry would destroy the Alberta economy, and bring down the Canadian economy with it. The loss of jobs would be staggering.

Now the University of Alberta is considering awarding Dr. Suzuki with an honorary degree. It does seem a bit odd that an institution that depends on oil and gas revenue for its funding would bestow this honour on an individual who would effectively shut down their funding. This question notwithstanding, universities should be free to make these sorts of controversial decisions. Where the real problem lies is in their defence of this decision. The university claims that it is “standing up bravely for freedom of inquiry, academic integrity and independence” by awarding this degree. Apparently, and quite alarmingly for such an institution of higher learning, the University of Alberta has not done proper research before issuing this defence. Has everyone already conveniently forgotten that David Suzuki is the man who suggested that those who question the consensus of man-made global warming (the deniers) should be put in jail?

I sometimes think that we are living in George Orwell’s novel 1984, and the deniers should be imprisoned in the Ministry of Truth until they learn to think in the politically-correct manner.

Frank Atkins is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.