Time to Change: Essays


230 pages
ISBN 0-7737-2760-4
DDC 333.7'2




Reviewed by Simon Dalby

Simon Dalby is an assistant professor of geography at Carleton
University in Ottawa.


David Suzuki needs little introduction to Canadian audiences. His
high-profile advocacy of environmental concerns as a scientist,
journalist, and broadcaster are well known. This book contains more than
70 of his newspaper columns and short essays on environmental themes
written in the early 1990s.

Part 1 examines environmental problems ranging from declining cod
stocks to global warming, and from deteriorating ecosystems to the
widespread human-induced destruction of coral reefs. Part 2 deals with
what needs to be changed. Suzuki argues that many of our Western
attitudes toward nature and our ways of evaluating resources are
fundamentally flawed. In particular, economic assumptions come in for
persistent criticism for their complete failure to take the natural
environment seriously. Part 3 focuses on how to initiate the needed
political changes. Suzuki believes that the answer lies in community
action and grassroots empowerment, and not least in the initiatives
taken by children.

Most of the pieces are short (written for media publication) and thus
limited in depth and detail. Nevertheless, Suzuki’s analysis comes
through clearly as he argues passionately that environmental problems
are not technological but political, and that social change and a
“spiritual” willingness to abandon the ceaseless quest for
ever-greater wealth measured in dollar terms are the keys to solving

But for all Suzuki’s eloquence and his trenchant critiques of our
current predicament, the most powerful passage in the book consists of
his daughter Severn’s words. The last three pages feature her speech
to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It brilliantly encapsulates
her father’s call for taking the environment seriously.


Suzuki, David., “Time to Change: Essays,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/6982.