Overheard at ideacity: Day Three

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Day three of ideacity brought discussions of everything from climate change to political cartoons. Some of the best quotes.

Patrick Moore

“When I saw how Canada was being besmirched as being this terrible place where all this awful stuff was happening when we have the best human rights in the world … it’s not right for people to be demonizing us for providing them oil for their cars.”

Patrick Moore went from co-founding Greenpeace to railing against what he sees as the failings of the environmental group. Dubbed “The Sensible Environmentalist” Moore defended everything from the oil sands (in the quote above) to CO2.

“CO2 is not a toxic pollutant. It’s the stuff of life,” he said. “It’s what everything on earth is made of. It’s crazy to call it a pollutant.”

Controversial to be sure, ideacity-goers took to Twitter to either agree with or counter Moore’s arguments. And speaking of controversial…

Alex Epstein

“If you think about it – nature doesn’t give us a good standard of living. Human life requires improving nature … to meet our needs.”

The energy and industrial policy expert continued where Moore left off, making “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.”

“I believe we should make a good footprint on the Earth – one big enough to maximize our well-being,” he said. “Nature gives us an incredibly dangerous climate that we make safe [by burning fossil fuels].”

Lord Nigel Lawson

“Political correctness is a blight of this age. It prevents proper debate. It prevents the truth from getting out.”

Rounding out the contrarian pod was Lord Nigel Lawson, author and former member of Margaret Thatcher’s government. He noted he jumped into the climate change debate because, “Now that I’m an old man, well into my 80s … I felt I should speak out. I’ve got nothing to lose.”

Among his arguments was this point: “There are many more deaths in the world from cold-related problems than heat-related problems.” He also railed against the vilification of climate change deniers. And, true to his distaste for political correctness, he even had words for Pope Francis, whose recent papal encyclical focused on climate change.

“The Pope has good intentions I’m sure, but we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Now that’s a heat-related problem.

Peter Nowak

“We do need to be cognizant of ‘mean world syndrome’ and that it is real and that we constantly need to counter it. One way of doing that is to seek out good news … there is good news. You just have to look for it.”

Award-winning journalist and author Peter Nowak stopped by to ease everyone’s worries that the world is a dangerous, scary place.

“I think we’re being conditioned to be pessimists. That’s not a conspiracy – it’s a byproduct of how technology is causing the media to develop,” he warned. Nowak called it “mean world syndrome,” where the constant fixation on the media coming through our various screens makes it seem “we’re only a hairsbreadth away from disaster.

“One of the counters to ‘mean world syndrome’ is to disconnect as much as possible,” Nowak suggested. “We’re more likely to see (the world) as mean if we’re only looking at it through screens instead of our own eyes.”

Nicholas Carr

“By becoming slaves to our technology we’ve cut ourselves off more and more from the highest levels of thinking. I’d argue that, as a society, we’ve convinced ourselves that that doesn’t matter.”

The above quote almost perfectly sums up Nicholas Carr’s message about what the Internet is doing to our brains.

“The key to deep thinking is to be able to take the information that’s coming into your mind and transferring it to your long term memory. And that’s called memory consolidation … It’s only when you make those connections you get rich thinking, rich knowledge and, maybe if you’re lucky, some wisdom.”

Something to keep in mind the next time you check your Twitter feed.

Andrew Keen

“Symbolically, the moment the ‘Kodak Moment’ died we had the rise of the ‘Instagram moment.'”

Famed digital commentator Andrew Keen stopped by caution against the failure of the digital revolution. Keen offered countless intriguing arguments, which is why our interview with him is coming soon to EverythingZoomer.com. Until then, we offer a few quick quotes:

“Right now the operating system isn’t creating solution to our age-old problems. It’s actually compounding those problems.”

“Big Data is the nightmare. That’s something we have to worry about.”

“The more that media dominates our existence, the less power we have.”

Marc and Jodie Emery:

“Civil disobedience for me was a matter of breaking the law openly and transparently.”

The Prince of Pot and his wife Jodie took the stage to discuss Marc’s four-and-a-half-year incarceration for marijuana offences. After stints in six different U.S. prisons, Marc noted, “I know prison is a bad place for most people but, for me, I had a lot of epiphanies there.”

And as for Prince of Pot’s ongoing fight, “We are clearly winning, which is one of the reasons I have no bitter feelings about my prison time.”

Marc also offered his wife a belated Valentine, tearfully thanking her for her undying support throughout his entire struggle.

Rev. Majed El Shafie

“The minute that we stop fighting for each other, we lose our humanity.”

The most inspiring talk of the day came courtesy of Rev. Majed El Shafie, the Egyptian-born human rights advocate who was persecuted in his youth for converting from Islam to Christianity.

“The world is an unfair and unjust place not because the people who do violence but because of the people who stay silent about it,” he declared.

The Reverend’s human rights victories around the world have earned him many enemies, but that doesn’t stop him from travelling to venues like this to spread his optimistic message.

“I know that we’re in a very dark night, but we have the candle of hope,” he said. “They can always kill the believer, but they can never kill the belief. They can always kill the dreamer, but they can never kill the dream.”

Patrick Chappatte, Dan Murphy and Ann Telnaes

The cartoonist’s pod generated a lot of discussion among the various guests.

“We live in an open world with closed minds,” said International New York Times editorial cartoonist Patrick Chappatte when asked what we’ve learned from attacks like the one on Charlie Hebdo. “We don’t want to be anybody’s soldiers. We don’t want to fight any war, accept the war against stupidity and inequality.”

Meanwhile, writer and cartoonist Dan Murphy explained why dictators aren’t generally fans of cartoonists. “No matter how powerful you are, no matter how big your statue is, if someone draws a dick on your statue it’s going to get people laughing…Cartoonists, if they’re doing their job, draw a lot of dicks on a lot of statues.”

And Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Ann Telnaes capped the talk perfectly when she noted, “We want the ability, the tools to speak out against discrimination and inequality.”

To illustrate this she pointed to the absurd tale of a female cartoonist in the Middle East and her run in with the law over her work.

“A cartoonist using offensive images and satire is sentenced to 12 years in prison for offending her governments oppressive opinion.”