Pop quiz: how many TV shows can you name that have been in production and airing for 60 years or more?
Among the titles that may have come to mind—besides Coronation Street and The National—one correct answer is The Nature of Things.
Yes, the show that launched in 1960 with guided journeys into science, nature, technology, and medicine is hitting its 60th anniversary.
The original host was physics professor Donald Ivey and many guest hosts followed before current host, Vancouver-based environmentalist David Suzuki, took over in 1979.
Season 60 of The Nature of Things will premiere with “Rebellion” on November 6 at 9 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.
It’s a documentary about the ongoing struggle for climate and social justice that follows climate protests, alongside activism for racial and economic justice, on the streets of Montreal, New York City, and London, U.K.
In the episode, Suzuki meets with both Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough, and activists such as Sudbury’s Sophia Mathur and Severn Cullis-Suzuki in Vancouver also appear.
The 84-year-old Suzuki, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Screen Awards this year to add to his numerous accolades, offered his thoughts about his time on The Nature of Things:
For 60 years, The Nature of Things has brought nature to audiences, but over that time, enormous changes have taken place, both in the natural world and society.
The most powerful force shaping our lives and society is not economics or politics, but science. Even though most of humanity now lives in big cities, we remain utterly dependent on and embedded in nature. That’s the fundamental message from The Nature of Things.
The challenge today is being savvy about the nature of information, where it’s coming from, who is paying for it, and why. When I seized the opportunity to work with The Nature of Things in the 1970s, I believed the program to be one of the most credible sources of information about the natural world and our dependence and impact on it.
As host of The Nature of Things, I’ve been able to travel and take the audience with me to places I dreamed of seeing as a child, from the Amazon to the Serengeti plains of Africa. I have witnessed and reported on many ecological issues, from the Porcupine caribou herd in Yukon to gorillas in Africa.
For most of human existence, we understood that we live in a complex web of relationships with all other species and air, water and soil—an ecocentric view. But now, we think we are at the top and everything revolves around us for us; this is an anthropocentric view. The consequence is that we have elevated human systems—legal, economic, political—as if they take precedence over nature itself.
From Chernobyl to COVID-19, we have learned that environmental disasters and diseases do not respect international borders—they shine a light on our shared destiny as a species.