2013 06 Mar

Who said what at the Eco Tour? With David Suzuki & Jeff Rubin

Last week we teamed up with Centretown United Church and Random House Canada to host a cozy event with David Suzuki, Jeff Rubin and over 500 of our closest friends.

It was our largest event – ever. That is, until tonight’s looming blockbuster, with Thomas King (tickets are sold out!).

The Eco Tour produced a lovely evening of discussion, passion and laughter. And then there were our speakers!

David Suzuki: environmentalist, author, broadcaster and troublemaker.

Jeff Rubin: economist, author and troublemaker.

There were insights and zingers galore. Below are some edited and reordered quotations from the evening. Your job is to figure out who said what.


  1. We forget that the very word economy – from the Greek, ekos – means household management. It’s nature and the biosphere that keep us alive. That is our home. The economy is a human construct.
  2. We’re never gonna run out of oil. We’re running out of oil we can use – it’s too expensive to get it out of shale rock and tar sands.
  3. We can’t have an economy that lasts forever. Humans have become a geological force. In the process of applying our power we are undermining that which keeps us alive. Our demands are now colliding with the life supports of this earth.
  4. In investment banking, we call it “shit happens”.
  5. Any species must live within the carrying capacity of its environment. We have biological limits because we’re animals. Yeah, that gets people upset because we think we’re elevated above other creatures.
  6. The problem isn’t energy “independence” – it’s the cost, no matter where it comes from, whether from tar sands or Saudi…the world isn’t running out of oil, it’s running out of oil we can afford to burn.
  7. We keep putting human constructs up and expecting the world to shoehorn into it. Capitalism, the markets, corporations – they mean nothing to nature, yet we want nature to fit into them. 
  8. If we stop growing, do we become poor? Maybe there are other metrics? Super storms. Record drought. Maybe the end of growth will not be the apocalypse…
  9. When the economy stumbled in 2009, emissions fell in the US and global emissions fell. When the global economy stops growing, our carbon footprint gets lighter. 
  10. It all hinges on the fact that with triple digit oil prices we can’t grow.
  11. Oil is tied to inequality. The race to the bottom won’t work with triple digit oil prices. It costs to move it around the world so you need to produce it locally. We need to empower local governments, empower local politicians. 
  12. All the politicians say the economy is the thing, it’s the source. But we aren’t asking the important questions. Does the economy serve us, or do we serve the economy?
  13. China, other investors, and environmentalists all recognize that the tar sands are isolated – if you deny it pipelines then it’s not worth shit. Hats off to anti-pipeline activists who figured that out.
  14. Politicians like to advocate that we all want a green economy without endangering our lifestyle. But with the use of coal as high as ever, there’s lots of green paint being ordered but the world is turning brown. Emissions are up – the world is moving more and more towards coal.
  15. We’ve gone from rural animal to urban beast. Tokyo has grown from 1.4 million people to 26 million in the last 100 years.
  16. In the city our highest priority is jobs and the things we want. There is no limit to the things we want. We are working longer to stay in one place. Cheap stuff at Walmart isn’t where it’s at.
  17. Population numbers yes – but also vital are consumption levels. This planet can sustain maybe 200 million of us living the Canadian or American lifestyle. There isn’t “wiggle room” for this level of hyper consumerism. 
  18. Consumers! Your job is to go out there and buy stuff! We don’t ask, are there no limits? Are we happy?
  19. “Socially responsible investing” sounds to me like green paint. It’s very easy to raise capital by putting green paint on it. Sure, plant some tulips next to the coalmine. It’s gonna take a lot more than green pain or carbon trading to do the job.
  20. I asked Harper three times to meet. Okay I once told him to fuck off – but that was back when he was leader of the Reform Party.
  21. I’m tired of fighting. When you fight there is always a loser. Can’t we come together and talk and leave our vested interests outside the door? Start with a basis of agreement?
  22. The corporate agenda marks time quarter-by-quarter, politicians by the next election. Not because politicians are evil or stupid. It’s the game they’re playing. So their highest priority is to get reelected.
  23. We must recognize the constraint that our economy can’t grow any more and we need to adapt to that. We are still in denial about it. How about the Green Party get out there on a “no growth” platform – good luck!
  24. We need warriors in the political process. Young people must activate their parents to be warriors on their behalf.
  25. It’s not political activism that will grind our system to a halt – it’s the price of oil. Harper’s vision of Canada as an “energy superpower” is very quickly becoming an economic nightmare.
  26. We need big things to be done – like putting a price on what we do to nature.
  27. We need proportional representation. Screw this first past the post system we have.
  28. I just visited the House of Commons. We talk about abolishing the senate! Why stop there?


How did you do? Here’s the key to who said what:


  • Jeff Rubin: 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 19, 23, 25, 28
  • David Suzuki:  1, 3, 5, 7, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27

What do you think?: