Advocacy Equity and inclusion

20 David Suzuki quotes to ponder and process

Dr. David Suzuki spoke to RTOERO members during a member webinar and, unsurprisingly, his talk was eloquent and urgent. It left our members and staff who attended with much to ponder and process.

We selected 20 of our favourite quotations from the hour-long presentation to share with you. These quotations could be used as prompts for reflective journal writing or perhaps discussion starters for a group.

David Suzuki quotes to reflect on

The following David Suzuki quotes were transcribed from a webinar presented to RTOERO members on January 25, 2022.

On the role of older adults and retired people in Canada

“You and I as retirees no longer need to worry about a raise or a job, so we can speak from our hearts. If we offend people by sharing what we’ve learned over our lifetime, that’s their problem, not ours. And if we have grandchildren, then we have no choice but to speak out and tell the truth.”

– David Suzuki

On the complex human brain and foresight

“Today, scientists armed with supercomputers, are acting in the best tradition of our species’ survival, looking ahead and seeing the dangers and the opportunities and suggesting we take appropriate action. But now we are turning our backs on this survival strategy – from climate deniers to anti-vaxxers.”

– David Suzuki

On inaction

“We now know for a fact that by the mid-1960s the fossil fuel industry knew from its own scientist that burning fossil fuels was warming the planet and could be catastrophic by the year 2000. But rather than working to find alternate energy sources, the fossil fuel industry, led by Exxon, chose to hire PR experts from the tobacco industry.”

– David Suzuki

“Had we used our foresight and seized the challenge, we could have avoided the crisis we face today, but we didn’t even try. Why? Politics.”

– David Suzuki

“We must all remember that Canada is extremely vulnerable to climate change. We are a northern nation that is already warming at twice the global average, four times the average in the arctic. We have the longest marine coastline in the world, so sea-level rise is already hammering us. Glaciers that are a critical source of water that feed some of our great watersheds are vanishing with astonishing speed.”

– David Suzuki

“Wilderness, old-growth forests, are our only way to remove and store carbon. Thirty years ago, 900 people were arrested for protesting logging old-growth in Clayoquot. Yet those logging practices have continued unslowed to this day, which is why more than 1100 have now been arrested at Fairy Creek for protesting the same thing.”

– David Suzuki

“In 2011, Harper pulled Canada out of Kyoto, the only nation to do so, because he knew Canada wasn’t committed to the goal. And our emissions had continued to rise because Harper declared that trying to reduce emissions was, quote, ‘crazy economics’. Thereby saying the economy is more important than the atmosphere that gives us air to breathe, that gives us weather, climate and the seasons.”

– David Suzuki

“In 2015, Trudeau bought a pipeline, saying we have to triple the output of the tar sands in order to get the taxes to pay to reduce emissions. Now that’s like saying cigarette sales are an important part of the economy, but we know smoking causes cancer, so we will increase cigarette sales for more tax money. Not to stop people from smoking, but to treat cancer.”

– David Suzuki

“Think about that – no emissions from fossil fuels by 2050. Sounds great. Wait, how many elections will there be between now and 2050? At least seven, probably more. And every new government acts as if everything the previous government did was crap. So, forget about that. And how many members of parliament today will still be in office by 2050? None. So, who is accountable when we won’t meet the target?”

– David Suzuki

On whether it’s too late

“We don’t know that it’s too late. It’s in the doing and trying that we define that we’re a species that’s worthy. We’ve got to act because that is our hope.”

– David Suzuki

“We have to give nature a chance. We have to let nature flourish again.”

– David Suzuki

On our relationship with Earth and nature

“We are one small strand in a complex web of relationships with all other species and with air, water, soil and sunlight. Other species of animals and plants are not resources or opportunities. They are our kin, related to us through a shared evolutionary history. Who, in acts of generosity, give themselves to us. Now in such a web, everything is connected. So, anything we do has repercussions and therefore, responsibility.”

– David Suzuki

“The way that we see the world shapes the way we act towards it. Is a forest a community of organisms? Is a river the veins of the land, or an opportunity for irrigation or to dam?”

– David Suzuki

“Laws define property and human rights. But where in our legal system is the right of a bird to live as it evolved to? Or a forest to exist as a community of organisms, or a river to flow as it has for millennium?”

– David Suzuki

“We are animals; our most fundamental need is air. If we don’t have air for 3-4 minutes, we’re dead. If we have to breathe polluted air, we’re sick. Air is created and maintained by all the plants on land and in the oceans. So clean air should be a sacred gift from nature that all of us have a responsibility to protect for future generations.”

– David Suzuki

On our way of life

“When we think that growth is the very measure of progress, we never ask the important questions. What is an economy for? Are there no limits? How much is enough? Are we happier with all this stuff? Why is anyone allowed to be a billionaire?”

– David Suzuki

“Every scientist I’ve talked to agrees. We are far beyond the carrying capacity of the biosphere, primarily because of the hyper consumption of the industrialized world.”

– David Suzuki

“Incremental change, a new law or regulation here, an economic incentive or a tax there. A new park a political promise to meet public protest, are not enough because we need transformative change. That means switching from anthropocentrism to ecocentric ways.”

– David Suzuki

“We settlers have to rediscover Indigenous values to shape policies, strategies and actions because clearly, the dominant paradigm doesn’t work.”

– David Suzuki


David Suzuki’s presentation was part of our Vibrant Voices webinar series, which focuses on our key advocacy issues. Environmental stewardship is an advocacy priority for RTOERO.

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