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(generated from captions) which are stored and shared
in people's virtual bitcoin wallets on their computers. How can you spend something
that isn't real? That 20 dollars you're holding -
how do you know it's worth $20? It just is! It says so. See? It's 20 dollars because we've all
agreed that it's worth $20. In fact anything can be used as
currency. But for a currency to work, lots of people have to agree
that it's worth something. It also has to be hard to copy. And just like our plastic notes,
bitcoins are really hard to forge. You can't copy bitcoins, they're
quite a large computer code and it takes a lot of computers
to solve this code. Some financial experts reckon
they could be just a fad and investing in them is not
a good idea.

But there are still plenty of
bitcoin enthusiasts hoping that one day they'll be
in everyone's virtual wallets.

Do you do bitcoin transfer?
Sure.

And that's all we have time for
in today's special on cyber sense. I hope you enjoyed the program
and we'll see you next time.

Captions by CSI Australia

This Program is Captioned Live

# Theme music

Hi, welcome to Big Ideas.
I'm Waleed Aly.

Australians scientists
should be manning the ramparts

in response
to the new govenrment policy,

according to geneticist,
environmentalist and broadcaster David Suzuki, when he delivered
the Jack Beale Lecture at the University of New South Wales. He put the boot into the new
Coalition Government in Canberra, saying that Tony Abbott's promise
to eliminate the carbon tax 'will probably make this politically
toxic for at least a decade before it will be able
to come back on the agenda'. And he went on to say that this is
just what corporations have wanted. and the link made
between reducing the carbon footprint and the destruction of the economy. He described the cancelling
of the Climate Commission and the firing of Tim Flannery as criminal negligence
through wilful blindness. Depending on your political
and/or environmental bias, But tune in -
he's a passionate advocate. I was born in 1936.

When I was a child,

my parents never worried that
I was watching too much television,

playing too much video games
or text messaging too much,

because none of those existed
when I was a child.

When I was a child, my parents
wouldn't let me go to movies

or public swimming pools
in the summer

because they were afraid
I would catch polio.

Polio - most children today
have no idea what polio is.

It's almost extinct around the world.

Back then, smallpox
ravaged the world every year. Millions of people caught smallpox

and hundreds of thousands of people
died every year.

It's been extinct for over 30 years.

Today's children don't know anything
of diphtheria, scarlet fever,

measles, chickenpox or mumps,

that we were all afraid of
when I was a kid.

There were no commercial jets,
satellites, Xerox, organ transplants,

antibiotics, plastics,
nuclear plants, oral contraceptives,

cloning or genetic engineering,

and I could make you a list
that would go on for pages

of what wasn't
when I was a child.

And you realise
that each of these innovations

transforms the way that we live,

rendering the old ways
that we did things extinct and changing the very definition
of our society and our values

and what it is to be a human being.

I spent eight years, from 1954-1962, getting an education at top
universities in the United States,

the kind of education that wasn't
possible in Canada at that time.

And this period spanned

the most exciting period,
for science students, in history. In 1957,
the Soviet Union launched Sputnik.

And it was a shock,
it was electrifying,

but the Americans began to scramble
to try to catch up.

And it was a glorious time to be -

all you had to do was say,
'I like science,'

and they threw money at you.

Here I was, a foreigner
studying there, and it was great.

And job offers came to me
long before I graduated

and I didn't even apply for them.

I got a job offer from Stanford.
I was amazed.

But I left the United States
after a year of postdoctoral studies

because I wanted to go home
to Canada.

Canada was different, and for me,
it was preferable.

I didn't think
we're better than Americans,

I just didn't want
to live in the United States

when I had a country of Canada.

a man named Tommy Douglas,
who was the Head of the CCF,

the socialist party
that brought Medicare to Canada. Canada meant Quebec
and the French language,

the National Film Board and the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Canada meant equalisation payments
from the richest provinces that were given each year
to the poorest provinces

to help them out.

Canada meant social security.

Canada, to me, meant sharing, caring
and cooperating,

not the dog-eat-dog
survival of the fittest

that was the American style
of society.

But when I arrived home - I was a hotshot geneticist and
I was gonna set the world on fire -

I was shocked to discover
the extent of scientific illiteracy in my country.

And the reflection
of that scientific illiteracy

was the degree to which science
was supported by government. It was virtually -
we were given handouts.

My first year as a university
professor I got a grant for $4,200.

They told me,
'You should have got $3,500,

but you had a year
of postdoctoral study

so we're giving you a bigger grant.'

At the same time, my colleagues

that I had graduated with
in the United States

were getting grants
between $60,000-$80,000.

So I began to wonder
whether I should think,

if I wanted to make a reputation
in science,

to go back to the United States,

when lo and behold, I was given
a huge grant from the Americans

So, thanks to the Americans
and their funding,

I was able to stay in my own country.

But in 1962,
as I was beginning my career,

something very significant happened.

I was asked
by a local community channel

to give a lecture on television,

to give a lecture on genetics.

So I did it as a lark,
they paid me 15 bucks

and they liked it so much
that I ended up doing eight.

And that was my first
television series.

Because, as I became involved,
I realised, 'This is a powerful,
a powerful teaching tool.'

The program was called
Your University Speaks.

(Laughter)

Nothing could be more boring
than that.

(Laughter)

But it was shown on Sunday morning
at 8:00!

(Laughter)

And I was shocked, because after
a couple of these shows had run,

I walked on campus
and a number of people said,

'Hey, I saw your show.
I really liked that show.'

And I'm going, 'What the hell
are you doing watching television at 8:00 on Sunday morning?'

That's when I realised, 'Holy cow,
people really do watch television.'

(Laughter)

And it can be a powerful way
of informing people. You see, I believed -
and I still believe -

that we make the best decisions

when we have
the best information available

to make the assessment
before arriving at a decision.

And I felt that science
was too important

to leave just to politicians
and businesspeople to decide on,

that the public had to have an input

in how science
was going to affect their lives,

and the best way
was to popularise science and make it available
to the general public.

I have to admit,
it's been absolutely astonishing

to watch the revolution
in communication technology,

to see what's available now.

When I started in television in 1962,

there were only two channels
in Canada.

One of them was our own CBC,

but then a private channel -
that was it.

But to see today
there are 24-hour news channels, that they're on
with satellite or cable.

In Canada we now get -

between 400 and 1,000 channels
are accessible.

And with laptops, PCs and tablets,
mobile phones, we can now tap into information
from around the world.

It's truly astonishing.

The problem, of course, is most
of what's available is gibberish.

It's babble.

It's about sex,
it's about selling stuff and ads. And it's polluted
from the kind of information

we're getting from big pharma,
from oil companies,

from the chemical industry
and so on.

But as I was, back in the 1960s, swept up
in the environmental movement,

television, in fact,
was a powerful force and influence

and I was very proud of the fact
that I had done a number of shows

that added in a small way to a number
of the discussions about issues and a number of victories.

I got involved in doing programs that
opposed the proposal by the Americans

to move supertankers
from the North Slope in Alaska

down the British Columbia Coast
to Seattle, to be refined in Seattle. We fought that and we stopped it.

There was a proposal to drill for oil

in one of the most dangerous areas
of the BC Coast, in Hecate Strait, A dam was to be built
on the Peace River, at Site C -

we stopped that.

Americans keep wanting to drill

in the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

This is the calving grounds

of the largest group of mammals
on the planet,

the Porcupine caribou herd.

Each time the Americans were trying
to push through a legislation

to allow drilling,

I did a show on the caribou,

and I'm not saying we stopped it,
but it helped.

Each time we stopped the initiative.

And I was very involved
in raising money and doing programs about the proposal that Brazil had
to build a dam at Altamira,

the Kararao Dam,

that had been offered $500 million
from the World Bank

and we got the Bank to pull its loan.

Each of these battles ended
in a huge victory in the 1980s. And each of these battles
that I've mentioned is - guess what? Back on the agenda. And here's where I think that despite the enormous success
of the environmental movement in the '60s and '70s, we have fundamentally failed
to use each of the battles to broaden out
the public understanding of why we were doing these battles. Why were we opposing the dam? It wasn't just power of enviros
against developers and enviros against the oil industry. It was because we had a different way
of looking at the world - that environmentalism
is a way of seeing our place within the biosphere. And that's what the battles
were fought over but that's not why, then,
the battles are recurring. We have failed to shift
the perspective or, in the popular jargon,

we've failed to move
or shift the paradigm.

We're still stuck in the old way
of seeing things.

So I come to the barbarians, then, and that is many of the politicians
and corporate executives

that environmentalists
have been fighting all these years.

They are driven, really,
by a totally different set of values. They're driven by the drive
for profit, for growth,

and for power.

And in that drive,
they fail to see the bigger picture

that environmentalism
informs us about.

Look at the largest corporations,
like Apple and Walmart

and Shell and Exxon and Monsanto.

They're bigger and richer now
than most governments

and we treat them
as if they're people.

They're corporations,
they're not people!

Why do we allow them
to fund politicians, for God's sake?

They're not people!

Politicians are running
to look out for our future,

but because corporations have the
wealth to fund, to a massive amount,

after an election, guess who gets
in the door to talk to the ministers

and the elected representatives?

It's corporations.

And what we find
is that governments now

are being driven
by a corporate agenda,

which is not about our well-being
and our happiness and our future.

Look at the climate sceptics today.

You know,
you think of all of the PR and ads and entire programs
run on television today When you look
at the climate sceptics, most of them are hired guns
for the fossil fuel industry. Many of them were the same people that were saying tobacco
wasn't dangerous if you smoked it 30 years ago. Don't believe me - read a book like
Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes. Or read the book called
Climate Cover-Up by James Hoggan. where do they get their money? Follow the money and then ask,
'How credible are they?' The politicians today
have very few tools with which to shape behaviour
in society. One of the tools they do have
is regulation. You pass laws, set targets,
and you pass laws mandating them

and of course they are hated

and fought tooth and nail
by corporations,

largely successfully.

Another tool they have,
an enormous tool, is taxation.

Taxation can be used to tax
the things that we don't want and pull the taxes off the things
that we do want to encourage. And we know that taxes work
as a way of changing human behaviour.

The carbon tax,
putting a price on carbon,

is by far the most effective way
to begin to get corporations, to get companies, to get people
to reduce their carbon footprint.

There is just no question about that.
(Applause)

Your...
(Applause continues)

Your Prime Minister,
your new Prime Minister,

ran on the promise
to eliminate the carbon tax.

I have no doubt
that he's going to do that

and will probably
make this politically toxic now

for at least a decade

before it will be able to come back
on the agenda.

And this, of course, is just
what corporations have wanted.

But it works.

In Canada, we have
the same kinds of arguments

and we argue, 'Oh, well,
we're a northern country,

we've got to burn more fossil fuels.

If we try to begin to reduce
our carbon footprint,

it'll destroy the economy.'

But we don't look at what's happening
in a country very much like Canada - Sweden, a northern country
which imposed a carbon tax in 1992.

They now pay $140 a tonne
to put carbon in the atmosphere.

They have reduced their carbon
emissions by 8% below 1990 levels, which is beyond the Kyoto target,

and during that interval,
their economy grew by more than 40%. So all of this argument that

'We can't afford to put a price on
carbon, it will destroy the economy,'

is just what the corporations
want believed and said. There is, in Canada,
a legal category

where people can be sued
and thrown in the slammer

called 'wilful blindness'.

If people in positions of power deliberately suppress or ignore
information that is vital to the decisions
they're making,

that is wilful blindness.

I call it more than wilful blindness.

I call it criminal negligence,

because it's a crime
against future generations

to avoid facing the reality
of what's going on.

(Applause)

And that is what Mr Abbott is doing
by cancelling the Commission, by firing Tim Flannery -

it is criminal negligence
through wilful blindness. In my country, we have a government,
I'm shamed to say, that is even more intensely
on this path because they've been in power
longer than Mr Abbott. Stephen Harper, our Prime Minister, was a big admirer of John Howard
and of George Bush, and he has cancelled virtually
all research going on in Canada on climate change. He has muzzled
government scientists - they are not allowed
to speak out in public, even in areas
in which they are expert, unless they are first vetted
by the Prime Minister's Office. Scientific papers must go through
the PMO, the Prime Minister's Office, before they are allowed
to be submitted for publication. So we're now getting science
being moulded to fit a political,
ideological agenda. He is laying off scientists in sectors like
climate or atmosphere research, forestry, fisheries.

So we can go into a very
uncertain future basically blind. In the book 1984,
George Orwell speaks of Newspeak,

that when you can convince people

that black is white
and that war is peace,

you can tell them anything.

And what better way to allow people
to believe whatever you say,

by shutting down all avenues
of serious, hard information. How can we make
truly informed decisions

if the scientific community itself
is shut down?

And I say to you
that in your society,

scientists better be
up at the ramparts,

making sure you don't follow the path
that Canada is on right now.

Because then, when politicians are
relieved of having to pay attention to real information, to science,

they can base their decisions
on what?

The Quran? The Bible?

My big toe has a bunion?

I mean, what the hell is going on?

So, as a Canadian,

I beg Australians to think hard
about what's happened in Canada and please avoid that
in your country.

How on Earth have we
reached this point in human history? One of the most amazing things to me
as a geneticist

is the way that scientists can now
manipulate and use DNA,

the genetic material.

And one thing that scientists can do
is use DNA to follow the movement of humankind
across the planet back through time.

And all trails lead back to Africa
150,000 years ago. And as Linda said, I never actually
spoke to the Ku Klux Klan - I'm waiting for them to invite me...
(Laughter)

..but if I did,
then I would tell them, 'We're all Africans, for God's sake!

What's your problem?'
(Laughter)

And if you look back,

if you try to imagine
when we were born as a species,

imagine that we could be transported
back in time

and hover above the Serengeti Plains
150,000 years ago. The Plains would be covered with
animals in abundance and variety

beyond anything
we could imagine today.

And you'd have to look very hard

to spot little clusters
of three, four or five

of these funny-looking, two-legged
furless apes.

And that was us.

Now, I am sure no other species
back then said to their kids, 'Oh, don't alarm that naked ape,

they're going to take over
the planet.'

I mean -
(Laughter)

What the hell
did we have going for us?

We weren't very big,
there weren't many of us,

we weren't fast, we weren't strong.

Nobody would be worried
about this animal

that in 150 millennia
would take over the planet.

What was our secret?

Well, of course,
you couldn't see our secret -

it was a 2kg organ
buried deep in our skulls.

The human brain
was the secret of our success.

Francois Jacob,
a Nobel Prize winner,

said that the human brain
has an inbuilt need for order.

We don't like things happening
that we don't understand.

So we have a genetic impulse to try
to organise what we see around us into some kind of way
that makes sense.

We create worldviews by trying
to fit everything together.

The human mind conferred
a tremendous memory capacity.

No other mammal on Earth has
the memory capacity of a human brain.

We were inventive
and we were curious.

We were able to dream of things and
one thing we dreamt of was a future. No other animal
has a concept of a future as we do.

I mean, a future doesn't exist. The only thing that's real is now
and what we remember from the past. But because we invented
the notion of a future, we are the only animal that realised
we can affect the future by what we do today. Based on our knowledge
and experience, we can look ahead, we can see where the dangers are
and see where the opportunities lie, and we could deliberately choose
a path to avoid the dangers and exploit the opportunities. I believe foresight
was that great gift that the human mind
conferred upon us - that we were able to plot our way
into the future. And today we've come
to dominate the planet, we've occupied every continent, we are the numerous mammal
on the planet, and we have amplified abilities
to analyse and look ahead. We call them scientists. We have supercomputers. And scientists now act
in the best tradition of our species. They look at the information
available and they try to look ahead to see where the dangers
and opportunities lie. And I'd like to just
give you an example of one of those attempts
by scientists. This is a remarkable document called World Scientists'
Warning to Humanity. It was published in November of 1992 and it was signed
by more than 1,700 scientists from 71 countries in the world and included over half
of all Nobel Prize winners who were alive at that time. So that's a pretty big,
pretty good roster. I mean, these are top scientists,
not fly-by-night scientists. What are they saying
in the World Scientists' Warning? 'Human beings and the natural world
are on a collision course. Human activities inflict
harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment
and on critical resources. put at serious risk
the future we wish for human society and may so alter the living world that it will be unable
to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision
our present course will bring about.' 1992. They go on then and list the areas
the collision is occurring in - the atmosphere, water resources, oceans, soil, forest,
species extinction and population. And then the words grow
even more bleak. 'No more than one
or a few decades remain before the chance
to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity
immeasurably diminished. A great change in our stewardship
of the Earth and life on it is required
if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet
is not be irretrievably mutilated.' And then they go on and list what
they believe we must do immediately. A frightening document. A terrifying document. Scientists of this stature don't normally sign petitions
or comments like this. But if this document is frightening, the response of the media
around the world was terrifying. There was none. What these scientists were telling us is that human beings
have become so powerful we are now altering the chemical, the physical and the biological
properties of the planet on a geological scale. Physically, we create dams,
divert rivers and build huge lakes, we drain entire wetlands,
remove mountaintops to get at coal, build massive open-pit mines. And because of our fracking practices
we know we are inducing earthquakes. Chemically, we know we've passed
400 parts per million Because of the carbon
in the atmosphere, and is acidifying the oceans. Nitrogen fertiliser spread on land,
they're washing into the seas and creating areas of eutrophication
that become dead zones because all of the oxygen
is depleted. Pollutants, of course, are spread
throughout the air, water and soil. Every one of you, I'm sorry,
however well you're living, every one of us in this room is carrying dozens of toxic chemicals
in our bodies. And with endocrine disrupters
from plastics, the whole process of development
and differentiation of our reproductive capacity has been interfered with. Biologically, we are driving
entire ecosystems out of existence for farming, cattle ranches,
roads, housing, and we are introducing alien species
all over the planet - Australia knows about alien species
in spades - and driving some 50,000 species
to extinction every year. That's why scientists
call this moment in time the Anthropocene epoch - the era when humans have become
a geological force. And it has happened
very, very suddenly. You see, for all of 150,000 years, there were never
a billion human beings. We reached a population
of a billion people - well, if you go back, at the beginning
of the agricultural revolution, which is 10,000 years ago, we think there were about
20 million human beings in the world. When Jesus Christ was born,
there were some 200 million. We reached a billion - the first mammalian species to
reach a billion any time on Earth - about 1803. When I was born there were just over
2 billion people on the planet. Can you imagine, in my lifetime,
population has more than tripled. If you were to plot that on a graph - and I think every student
ought to do that - just plot on a graph
in which the x axis is 150,000 years and the y axis
is population of humans in billions, and what you find is the curve
is virtually flat for 99%, and in the last pencil-width of time
it explodes straight up off the page. Every human being today
has to be fed, clothed and sheltered. And just to stay alive, then, we have a
very big ecological footprint. to keep us alive. But, of course, we're not like
a rabbit or a rat or a mouse. We have an enormous amount
of technology used on our behalf. And, you know, I look out
at an audience like this and I see lots of cotton shirts
and wool suits, and I'm sure - well, this is the first time
I've ever had an audience where I might not
be able to say this. I always say to an audience, 'I'm sure no-one in this room has a field of cotton plants
growing in your backyard or a flock of sheep.' But some of you
might have a flock of sheep. (Laughter) But the vast majority of us
would have no such thing. But thanks to technology, technology that now can exploit to the far reaches of every corner
on the planet for raw materials and deliver the goods that
we take for granted in our lives - our computers, our cars, our food - all of that amplifies our impact,
our ecological footprint. And it doesn't end there. Ever since World War II, we've been afflicted with
an incredible appetite for stuff. We love to go shopping. 95% of American teenage girls calls shopping
their number one recreation. So they're having fun and getting
their exercise at the same time. We love to buy stuff and all of the stuff that we buy
comes out of Mother Earth, and when we're finished with it,
we throw it back into Mother Earth, and that increases enormously
our ecological footprint. And this is all overlain, then,
by a globalised economy. I believe
that globalisation will be - if humans are around at the end
of this century, globalisation will be looked upon as one of the big disasters
to hit our species. Globalisation exploits
the entire planet, the biosphere, for raw materials and as a dumping ground
for our waste and toxic materials. But globalisation
does something as well. It hides - it hides
the ecological and social impact of the stuff that we buy. In Canada - we're a northern country. You know, it snows a lot
in our country. And yet,
Canadians take for granted that 'Oh, yeah, in the middle of winter we can go down and buy
fresh raspberries and strawberries and onions and tomatoes.' Well, where the hell do they think
that's growing in Canada? When I was a kid, when you wanted
a vegetable or fruit in winter, my mom said,
'Go to the canned goods section.' But now we want fresh fruit, do we not think that that's come
from somewhere else on the planet? And what was the ecological cost
of delivering that? You know,
it only costs ten cents per apple that we eat in the middle of winter, that's shipped all the way
from New Zealand. I don't know
how the heck we can afford to get... I mean, ten cents, that's all? The ecological cost must be enormous. I keep going to Japan
and telling the Japanese, 'The oceans are a mess. Why aren't Japanese leading the world
in fighting to protect the oceans?' And they look at me
with a blank stare, saying, 'What are you talking about? Go down to Tsukiji,'
the world's largest fish market. 'There's lots of fish there.' Well, the reality is 50 years ago
virtually all the fish in Tsukiji would have been caught
within 50 miles of Japan. Today they're caught
from around the world. But no, to them, it's just fish. I mean, there's lots of fish there,
so everything is fine. Globalisation hides the impact. When you go to buy a shirt,
a cotton shirt,

how many of you ever say,
'Is this organic?'

Cotton is one of the most chemically
intensive crops that we grow.

And if you look at
the big cotton-growing area

in Eurasia, around the Aral Sea,

it's been an absolute ecological
and social disaster.

But we don't ask that.
'I just want a T-shirt.

I pay my money and I buy it
without a second thought.'

And it's that way for virtually
all of the products that we buy.

But in this period
of explosive growth in our ecological footprint,

we are in fact undermining
the very life-support systems of the planet.

You see, because we no longer see
what the life-support system is. You see, we live in a world
that is shaped and constrained by laws of nature.

In physics, we know
that you can't build a rocket

that will travel faster
than the speed of light.

Nobody complains about that,
except maybe science fiction writers.

We know that you're not going to
get any faster than that.

We know that the law of gravity

says you can't build an
anti-gravity machine here on Earth.

And we know that the first
and second laws of thermodynamics

mean you cannot build
a perpetual motion machine.

We know that and we accept that.

Physics imposes that
on the way that we live.

In chemistry, it's the same thing.

The atomic property of atoms.

We know that
there are diffusion rates and reaction constants.

We know that there limits on the
kind of reactions we can carry out

and molecules we can synthesise.

And we live with that.

That's imposed
by the world that we live in.

And in biology, it's the same thing.

The biology dictates
that as a species we know

there are carrying capacities
for any ecosystem.

For us, we didn't evolve
to fit a specific ecosystem.

We're very adaptable.

The entire biosphere
has become our living quarters. And there has to be
a carrying capacity

for any species
within that biosphere.

It can't support an infinite number.

But we also know
that we are biological creatures.

And we're animals.

And as animals,
our biological make-up I met with some children two days ago
here in Australia, and I said, 'Kids, I want you
to try this for me.

Take a deep breath.
OK, great. Now hold it.

And you don't take another breath.

Hold that breath for five minutes.
I'm going to keep on talking.'

And kids are so trusting,
they try to do that.

(Laughter)

And soon they're turning bright pink,

and then of course
they take a breath.

And the illustration is
air is something you need

from the moment every one of us
left our mother's body.

To the last breath we take
before we die, we need air.

Air is so important

you cannot commit suicide
by deliberately holding your breath.

Your body will not allow you
to do that.

We need air.

If you don't have air
for three or four minutes,

you're dead.

If you have to breathe
contaminated air, you're sick.

So surely, biology dictates
our highest priority,

as an animal,

should be the protection
of clean air.

(Applause)

I didn't realise the extent to which

calling someone an animal
is a real insult

until I gave a lecture
in Austin, Texas, many years ago,

and it was an audience
about this size.

But there were a lot of children
in the audience.

At the end of it I said,

'Now, kids, if you remember one thing
from my lecture,

remember we are animals.'

My God, did their parents
get pissed off at me!

(Laughter)
Really!

'Don't you dare call my daughter
an animal.

We're human beings!'

And you can see our attitude
towards other species. If you call someone a pig

or a chicken or a worm
or a snake or an ape,

these are - these are insults.

Because somehow we think
they're not up to us.

I walked into a store
in Calgary, Alberta,

and in the front window
there was a big sign.

I said, 'No animals allowed.'
(Laughter)

And I went in
and I told the proprietor,

I said, 'You know, that sign -

if you enforce that, you're not
going to have any customers.'

(Laughter)

And the scary thing to me is,
he thought I was nuts.

He didn't know
what I was talking about.

So we don't like to remember
that we are animals.

And if we don't, we don't understand

what our absolutely
most fundamental need can be.

So physics, chemistry, biology
dictates clearly

the world that we live in

and the limits and constraints
on that world.

We need clean water.

Without water for more than
a few days, you're dead.

Drinking contaminated water,
you're sick.

So clean water is an absolute need
for us as animals.

All of our food was once alive
and most of it was grown in the soil. We need clean food.
Without food, we die in a few weeks.

Some of us might even live
pretty long.

But eventually we kick the can.

And if you have to eat
contaminated food,

of course, you're sick.

So maybe that's important.

And our biology dictates that
all of the energy in our body

that we need to move and grow
and reproduce,

all of that energy is sunlight,
captured by photosynthesis,

transformed into chemical energy

and then we get that
by eating the plants

or eating the animals
that eat the plants,

and we store it in us.

So again, that is an absolute need
for photosynthesis. And what delivers
these fundamental needs

that we have as animals

is the web of living things
around the planet

that we call biodiversity.

Biodiversity delivers what I call
the four sacred elements -

earth, air, fire and water.

And as Linda says,
that's what I learned

from my Aboriginal
brothers and sisters in Canada.

I have been a student of theirs now
for over 30 years.

They never lost that understanding
that we are part of the Earth, that the rest of life
are our brothers and sisters

and that we are created
out of the four sacred elements

from Mother Earth.

Those are things
that we live within - the reality of our lives. Other things, though, we create and think
that they are just as important. We draw borders around property, around cities,
around states and countries. And boy, do we take those borders
really seriously. We go to war. We will kill and die
protecting those borders. In Texas and the United States, you're allowed to kill someone,
legally, who comes onto your property
that you don't want there. Those borders are...
But you know what? Fish and birds and air and trees
don't give a shit about our borders. (Laughter) You know, we take them very seriously
for us. But don't expect nature
to pay any attention to the borders that we create. We invent other ideas,
like capitalism, like economies,
like corporations and markets. And man, we really
take those things seriously. And we reify them. We act as if they're real entities. I mean, just listen
to the news reports every morning. 'Oh, the market's not looking
too healthy this morning.' You know, I think of this,
whatever it is, lying in bed
with a cold pack on its head. (Laughter) When Mitt Romney said,
when he was running against Obama, (Laughter) You know, we make them into entities. You know, a few hundred years ago, we really believed in dragons
and demons and monsters. I mean, we really believed - we would give them jewels
and sacrifice virgins and do anything
to make sure they're happy. But today, we know those are
figments of our imagination. Nobody believes in dragons, demons,
or monsters today. We replace them with another demon or another figment of our imagination
called the market. You know, we do the same damn thing. In 2008, what did Mr Obama do? He poured
hundreds of billions of dollars into the banks, into the market
in order to get it back up. They created the bloody problem. He just wanted them back up
and running again. Those are not forces of nature.
We invented them! And guess what -
they're the only thing we have a hope of changing
if they're not working. You can't do the same with nature. But the result
of reifying these ideas, is that they dominate
the negotiations that we now involve ourselves in
when it comes to the biosphere. Look at the international conferences
we held in Rio in 1992 - the largest gathering of
heads of state ever in human history. Nobody remembers that at Rio people signed a climate convention, saying we will stabilise 1990 levels
by the year 2000. Kyoto, 1997. by the year 2010. Australia was
the only industrialised country allowed a target above 1990 levels, 'No, no, no. We need coal.
We're a special country. We're...' (Laughter)
Anyway... (Applause)
Disappointing. But then...
(Applause) It just boggles my mind, you know? I come to Australia, and I love Australia -
I think of it as my second country. And yet, you've got something
Canadians would die for, called sunlight. (Laughter) And you have the nerve to say
that 'No, we can't get off coal.' What the hell is going on? I know that you've got...
(Applause) I know that
you've got the expertise - CSIRO, your universities
have really outstanding people - if you just make the commitment, that this is our opportunity,
our energy source of the future. My God! You think of the opportunity. But no. We're still stuck. And we're stuck
because of the world in which human-created ideas
of borders and economies fence in the argument
or the discussions. And look at what happened
in Copenhagen. Copenhagen was supposed to be
a renewal then of the Kyoto process, which, by the way, most countries
that signed on met their targets. but pulled out
a year before the agreement ended. But at Copenhagen,
192 countries gathered to negotiate the atmosphere -
that doesn't belong to anybody - through the perceptual lenses
of 192 national borders and 192 national economic agendas. So what we end up doing, then, is not dealing with the atmosphere,
as it should be, we try to shoehorn nature
into a human agenda. It's never going to work. It simply cannot work. So what do we do? For years in British Columbia, I battled the forest industry
over their clearcut practices. And to ward off these big battles, And what roundtables were, were round tables
where all of the 'stakeholders' - I hate that word - all the people with a vested interest
in the future of that forest, could come to the table and you then negotiate. And they're doomed to fail, because what you do then
is you're fighting for your stake. And ultimately what results
is compromise or some win and some lose. and we can't have losers anymore. I've been asked by Shell,
the vice-president of Shell, to meet with other environmentalists
and his executives to talk about
future energy strategies. But again, it was all couched
within the shell, within the perspective of
how do we pay for this, what is the economic cost
of doing the right thing. Same thing, Marcel Coutu, who's the CEO of a consortium
of tar sands companies, called me, came to Vancouver, visited me and said,
'Will you talk to me?' I said, 'Sure.
I'm happy to talk to you. But I'll only talk to you if
we can agree on certain basic things. I don't want to fight anymore,
Marcel. There's no point fighting. Let's start from
a point of agreement. So, how about this? How about starting
by saying, 'We are all animals. And as animals,
our most fundamental need, before anything else, is clean air, clean water,
clean soil, But we're also social animals. And as social animals,
we have fundamental needs. What are our most fundamental
social needs?' How long have I gone on? I'm sorry.
(Laughter) Oh, let me take two more minutes. Our most fundamental social needs, it turns out, to my amazement,
is love. Now, I'm not
a hippie-dippie whatever... (Laughter) If you look at the literature, our most fundamental need
for children is an environment of maximum love where they can be hugged, kissed
and loved. Because that's what creates -
that's what humanises us and allows us to realise
our full potential. And you look at studies of children growing up
under conditions of genocide, of racism, war and terror, children who are deprived
of those opportunities, or the orphans in Romania
under Ceausescu, and you find people
who are fundamentally crippled They die like flies. So we need love to be fully human. And to ensure love,
we need to have full employment, we need social justice,
we need gender equity, we need freedom from hunger
and poverty. These are, it seems to me, our most fundamental needs
as social creatures. And then we're spiritual beings. And as spiritual animals,
we have a need for a spirit. I'm not talking about
formal religion. But I believe we have to understand,
as first nations do around the world, that we emerged out of nature
and when we die we return to nature. We need to know
there are forces impinging on us that we will never understand
or control. not just looking for resources
or opportunity. These are things that I could go on
saying what 'spirit' means. But I believe
that we are doomed to fail And then we ask,
'How do we create an economy? How do we make a living? 'How do we keep
viable, strong communities?' We're doing it all the wrong way because we take ourselves
so seriously. And we think that we're so smart, we create things
that can dominate the discussions. Thank you.

(Applause)

Thank you.
Thank you.

I'm happy to answer questions
if there are any. I think there must be microphones
somewhere. Oh, that's not fair for you
to get to ask the first question. (Audience laughter)

Just to kick things off, David.

As you know, I'm Merlin Crossley,
the Dean of Science here.

So to start off the questions -

earlier this year at UNSW,
we had a sort of corporate guy here,

a guy called Bill Gates.

(Audience chuckles)

And he has been in charge
of a corporation,

he's been in the business world,
he's had huge influence.

Recently, he's devoted himself
to good causes in global health. Businesspeople are
sort of very influential.

At the end, you told us
a couple of people

who you haven't managed
to sort of persuade.

Are there people
in the business world

who can help to agree on things
and use their influence

so it's not always a battle?

Well, I think the problem is that -

I have some very good friends

who started a very successful company
in Canada called Roots -

it's a clothing company.

And they have come
to many of my lectures,

and Michael Budman,
one of the founders, said, 'You know, Dave,
I agree with everything you say.

But if I were to go to the bank
and say,

"Roots has captured 5%
of the garment market in Canada. I am a multi-millionaire,"'
which he is.

'"My employees are paid
a very good wage. They're happy. We don't want to grow any further.

We just want to stay
at 5%-6% of the market.

But I'd like to get a loan
to refurbish my plant."'

He said, 'If I don't submit a plan

that says we're going to
continue to grow,

that's considered dying.'

That a stable - and so that's
the creed of the cancer cell.

How do you operate within that kind
of an economic system?

It's crazy! It's suicidal.

So, yes, there are all kinds
of enlightened people.

And Bill Gates.

You know, everybody's all agog
with Bill Gates.

God damn it!
He's a multi-billionaire.

Nobody should be allowed
to be worth a billion dollars!

I find that obscene!
(Applause)

So, yeah, I'm glad he's spending it
on those good things, but I find the whole idea
that people of that wealth are the ones that we then turn to
to do good things. That's why we elect governments. And I certainly think
there should be a huge limit on what a human being can be worth. So, yeah, there are
a lot of good people. But I think they're trapped. As long as we remain trapped within
the current economic system, which is absolutely flawed... The two major things
that I think are its flaws are - one, we seem to equate growth
with progress, and economists actually think
the economy can grow forever. It's impossible. So the idea of a growth economy,
that's got to stop. And the other thing is that when I fight forest companies about their clear-cut logging
of forests, they're talking about board feet,
cubic metres of pulp, jobs, profit, and I'm arguing about
the ecological benefit of a standing forest. You know, it's doing all
of these things like taking carbon
from the atmosphere, putting oxygen back in - not a bad service
for an animal like us. But guess what -
those don't cut any ice economically. So we're not arguing the same thing. And I think economics - every time we go in and talk about
reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we've always got to talk about it
within an economic context. They're doomed to fail.
It cannot work. Thank you. Dr Suzuki, thank you very much
for your time. Have we damaged the Earth
significantly, such that, even if we did disappear
as a species, that the cycle could not continue - and the snakes, the birds,
and the lizards would take over from
where we left off should we disappear
in the fullness of time? Yeah, well, you know,
a lot of kids come up to me and say, 'How do I go about
saving the planet?' And I tell them,
'Don't worry about the planet. The planet was fine
long before we ever arrived. And it'll do fine
long after we've gone.' So life, I'm sure, however catastrophically
we've upset the balance, life will ultimately equilibrate -
be a totally different kind of life. But I have children
and I have grandchildren. I simply cannot accept what many
of my colleagues have reached now, which is the position
that it's too late. You know, we've passed
too many tipping points. I mean, I think this is what
Clive Hamilton was suggesting in Requiem for a Species, that it was too late. Sir Martin Rees,
the Royal Astronomer in England, was asked recently on BBC, 'What are the chances
our species will survive to the end of this century?' And he said, '50-50.' James Lovelock,
who coined the expression 'Gaia' for all life on Earth has written a book in which
he says over 90% of all humanity will be gone
by the end of this century. Well, I... I can't abide by
simply saying, 'Oh, well, that's it. We've just got to live out our life.
It's too late.' I have children and grandchildren. And I am not
a Pollyanna-ish optimist. But I live on hope. And the hope is based on the fact -
and I told Clive this - we don't know enough
to say it's too late. You know,
we just barely know that much. And I believe that nature,
if we give nature a chance, will be far more forgiving
than we deserve. (Audience applause)

David, can I ask you, in that vein,
you told a story to some teachers that we had here -
some science teachers, about the sockeye salmon. Ah.
And I think that's worth repeating, because it really makes the point
how little we know. OK, well, yeah, this is just a story
that reinforces to me

the fact of how little we know. There are five species of salmon
in Canada. And the most prized species
commercially is called the sockeye salmon. It's got the bright red flesh. It's very fatty
and it's a wonderful fish. The largest run of sockeye salmon
in the world Before contact with Europeans, the runs were about
100-120 million species - a million animals a year. I mean, that's a lot of salmon. Fed the First Nations people
up and down the Fraser system. they built a railroad
along the shore, they caused a big landslide,
plugged up the river and they lost a lot of salmon. Anyway, it bounced back after years and a 30-35 million run
was considered a good run. Three years ago
we got just over 1 million sockeye running up the Fraser and I said to my wife, 'That's it.
That's just not enough biomass to get those animals
up to the spawning grounds. We can forget about sockeye.' A year later, we got the biggest run
of sockeye in 100 years. (Laughter) Now, I like to tell this story
not to show how stupid I am. (Laughter)
Nobody knows what the hell went on. We've got a royal commission
trying to figure out what's going on! but what it showed was
nature shocked us. And I believe that nature has
many more surprises up her sleeve. Just give her a chance to recover.
And that's what gives me hope. (Applause) David Suzuki's lecture
has been uploaded on our website

and I'm keen to read your responses
to his challenges

to scientists, politicians
and to us, the community, as well.

That's it
for this edition of Big Ideas.

I'm Waleed Aly. See you next time.

Captions by CSI Australia

Hello and welcome to our national lunchtime news. I'm Ros Childs.

This Program is Captioned Live.

A new report shows high school is failing to prepare students for the workforce. Thousands of Syrians have been fleeing a suburb in Damascus under siege by government forces for months.Australian agencies drawn in to the US spy scandal.And marking 100 days until the start of the Winter Olympics.

The latest school education report released by the COAG Reform Council warns a generation of young people could be lost to poverty and disadvantage. The council has found high school literacy and numeracy rates are stagnating and that over 25% of young