The Sacred Balance

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Everyday in the media, society is confronted with the attitude that we are inevitably heading for a global environmental catastrophe that will destroy mankind. Constantly scaring society as a means to create awareness for the environment has created ‘doom fatigue'. The threat of doom for humankind is used so often, that it has become a cliché that many dismiss simply as a shallow warning. In his book The Sacred Balance, David Suzuki has attempted to overcome the ‘doom fatigue' so his ideas of conservation and environmental management do not become the monotonous endeavours of intimidation that many environmentalists employ. The extensive use of diagrams, quotes, anecdotes and statistics are utilised to create a holistic portrayal of our dependence on the environment, thus reinforcing Suzuki's attitude that society needs to treat the planet as though it were sacred. While The Sacred Balance reveals how we are influenced by our habitat from numerous positions, I feel as though Suzuki has failed to overcome the ‘doom fatigue' in his book. Even though I will live a majority of my life in the years that many depict to be consumed with disaster, The Sacred Balance has not convinced me about the future of our planet.

Suzuki uses statistics throughout the text to allow the reader to visualise elements of his arguments that may be difficult for many to understand. Statistics also add credibility to Suzuki's propositions, giving abstract ideas a calculated value, regardless of whether the figures are rough estimates. In the chapter "The Oceans Flowing Through Our Veins" Suzuki discusses our dependence on our water resources and argues how we have forgotten that we must protect them from pollution. Simply saying our water is polluted is hardly engaging, instead Suzuki reveals how each cup of Toronto's drinking water contains 30,000,000,000,000 molecules of water from human urine, ten million molecules of industrial solvents and even four million molecules of banned CFC's. These figures seem disastrous; how could millions of chemicals get into our drinking water? What effect does this have on our bodies? These statistics have effectively brought the idea of water pollution to a personal level, illustrating how such a global problem can affect every individual. While these statistics are very useful in supporting Suzuki's ideas, I feel that they also have a damaging effect to his arguments. Being told that there are billions of industrial chemicals in our water simply supports the ‘doom' ideology. I have been warned about the effects of water pollution many times before and there always seems to be a government department that regulates water quality. I haven't heard that people are becoming sick simply by drinking tap water and if the quality of our water is so poor, why is it still flowing to our homes? The use of statistics are essential in developing an informative argument, however I consider that Suzuki's figures are so overpowering, they align his arguments with the views of other experts, who believe we are condemned unless we drastically reform our ways.

When most people think of environmentalists or conservationists, we readily picture a ‘hippie' like person. Suzuki quotes numerous scientists, authors and religious texts to not only support his ideas, but to break down our perceived image of these people. He challenges this belief by using quotes that are highly philosophical and intellectual and this encourages me to acknowledge that educated professionals around the world support his ideas. The quotes from the "World Scientists" document in the introduction are particularly influential, as ‘sixteen hundred scientists, including half of all Noble Prize winners' signed the document . With the Noble Institute representing excellence in all fields of science and literature, these quotes give enormous support and credibility to Suzuki's ideas of conservation and environmental management. Reinforcing the spiritual effect...
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