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Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Sacred Balance by David Suzuki

The Sacred Balance by David Suzuki
Grey Stone Books 1997
ISBN: 9781553651666

David Suzuki (b.1936) has been an environmental activist for most of his adult life.  He has written over forty books and is the co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.  His passion and dedication for the natural world are on full display in The Sacred Balance. This book explains humanity's fundamental link to the natural world in great detail. Suzuki uses the four elements (air, fire, water, and earth) as a jumping off point and each chapter expounds on them until the reader is left without a doubt that we are all part of an intricate and beautiful natural system.  The final chapter in The Sacred Balance is called "Restoring the Balance" and that is where my only problem with the book lies.  In this chapter Suzuki briefly profiles some significant activists (Vandana Shiva and Wangari Maathai) but it is in his mentioning of William Mcdonough, architect and author of the Book "Cradle to Cradle" that he loses me for a few pages. Mcdonough has worked with many businesses including Wal-mart, convincing them to build more "sustainable" megastores (or superstores, or whatever they call them).  This includes putting skylights in the building and using building materials that are free of CFCs and other toxic chemicals.  These are all good things, obviously, but when Suzuki mentions in passing that a new Wal-mart store is built somewhere every two days it makes me wonder why he included this information on Mcdonough in a chapter called, "Restoring the Balance".  Wal-mart has nothing to do with restoring the balance of the natural world.  You can still rape the planet with thousands of "sustainably" manufactured buildings, especially when you are littering the land with them at the rate of one store every two days.  This soured the last chapter for me and I wish that Suzuki would have dug a little deeper and come up with a better example to use.  Having said all that, this only takes up a few pages in an otherwise inspiring book that I hope you will all read and enjoy!

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