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Growing Up Green: An Excerpt from Life Stories: World-Renowned Scientists Reflect on Their Lives and the Future of Life on Earth

[In London, Ontario], I biked to my grandparents’ farm and often stopped in a swamp to find frogs, reptiles, skunks, and foxes. At my grandparents’ place there were a creek and woods nearby, where I played for hours. I also spent a lot of time on the Thames River. . . . I knew every pool and where to catch different fish throughout the year. . . . Other animals fished with me; I remember seeing a raccoon pull out a crayfish and then wash it before eating.

Today, if I said, “Let’s go down to the Thames River and catch a fish,” a parent would recoil in horror at the thought of their child wading in that river, because now it is a toxic sewer. . . . The creek that I dipped in to get freshwater clams and fish now runs through culverts underground. The farm where my grandparents lived is a huge high-rise complex. The swamp where I spent so much of my time playing is paved over and is now an enormous shopping mall.

When I compare my childhood to that of children in that modern city today, I am shocked by the difference. They do not have the woods, river, and swamp to play in, so they hang out in what is there—shopping malls and electronic game galleries. They grow up in a biological desert, a concrete maze of roads, buildings, machines, humans, and the few plants and animals that are allowed to survive.

David Suzuki, "The Nature of Things." In Life Stories: World-Renowned Scientists Reflect on Their Lives and the Future of Life on Earth. Heather Newbold, ed.
University of California Press
$45 (cloth), $16.95 (paper)

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