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Quotations about the Environment

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Welcome to my page of quotations about environmental issues, ecology, conservation, pollution, climate change, global warming, humans ruining our planet, humans saving our planet, being green, etc.  —ღ Terri

If wilderness is outlawed, only outlaws can save wilderness. ~Edward Abbey, Vox Clamantis in Deserto, 1989

I pledge allegiance to the Earth, and to the flora, fauna and human life that it supports, one planet, indivisible, with safe air, water and soil, economic justice, equal rights and peace for all. ~Women's Foreign Policy Council, "Pledge of Allegiance to the Family of Earth," 1989

Modern technology
Owes ecology
An apology.
~Alan M. Eddison

You think you can fix everything, change everything. But there will come a day when things cannot be fixed. And, you know what, it will be a day just like today. ~American Indian elder, quoted by Kent Nerburn, "Thoughts on the Dakota Access Pipeline," 2016

The highest treason, the meanest treason, is to deny the holiness of this little blue planet on which we journey through the cold void of space. ~Edward Abbey, Vox Clamantis in Deserto, 1989

Man's notion of barrenness is commercial. I often thank God that there are wildernesses left, wild spots where profit has no dominion. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation III: The Oak-wood," 1850

The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago... had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands.  ~Havelock Ellis, The Dance of Life, 1923

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.  ~Henry David Thoreau

God bless America. Let's save some of it. ~Edward Abbey, Vox Clamantis in Deserto, 1989

There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed.  ~Mohandas K. Gandhi

There's so much pollution in the air now that if it weren't for our lungs there'd be no place to put it all.  ~Robert Orben

It wasn't the Exxon Valdez captain's driving that caused the Alaskan oil spill.  It was yours.  ~Greenpeace advertisement, New York Times, 25 February 1990

In America today you can murder land for private profit.  You can leave the corpse for all to see, and nobody calls the cops.  ~Paul Brooks, The Pursuit of Wilderness, 1971

Don't blow it - good planets are hard to find.  ~Quoted in Time

Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.  ~William Ruckelshaus, Business Week, 18 June 1990

When a man throws an empty cigarette package from an automobile, he is liable to a fine of $50.  When a man throws a billboard across a view, he is richly rewarded.  ~Pat Brown, quoted in David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising, 1985

Because we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us.  ~Henrik Tikkanen

I'm not an environmentalist.  I'm an Earth warrior.  ~Darryl Cherney, quoted in Smithsonian, April 1990

I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security.  Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad.  Otherwise what is there to defend?  ~Robert Redford, Yosemite National Park dedication, 1985

Recycling is sexy. ~Keith Wynn, @moon_descending

We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.  ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Your grandchildren will likely find it incredible - or even sinful - that you burned up a gallon of gasoline to fetch a pack of cigarettes!  ~Paul MacCready, Jr.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~American Indian proverb

Roses are infrared
Ultraviolets are blue
Why is climate changing?
Because of CO2.
~Gavin Schmidt, @climateofgavin, tweet, 2017

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth.  We are all crew.  ~Marshall McLuhan, 1964

Newspapers:  dead trees with information smeared on them.  ~Horizon, "Electronic Frontier"

They kill good trees to put out bad newspapers.  ~James G. Watt, quoted in Newsweek, 8 March 1982

I have no doubt that we will be successful in harnessing the sun's energy.... If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago.  ~Sir George Porter, quoted in The Observer, 26 August 1973

The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun.  ~Ralph Nader, quoted in Linda Botts, ed., Loose Talk, 1980

The industrial corporation is the natural enemy of nature. ~Edward Abbey, Vox Clamantis in Deserto, 1989

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.  When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.  ~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenge; for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future.  ~Marya Mannes, More in Anger, 1958

The basic science is not physics or mathematics but biology — the study of life. We must learn to think both logically and bio-logically. ~Edward Abbey, Vox Clamantis in Deserto, 1989

      Half the animal kingdom would be gone in a few decades. There was no question about these facts, no debate in the scientific community. The pattern was clear. The usual extinction rate for a stable ecosystem was one to five species each year. Animals were now dying out at a thousand times the rate they should be. Dozens of species went extinct every single day...
      Most people... were not capable of understanding the plight of the animals. They were too sheltered to comprehend it. Too safe. Even if they knew the facts and figures, they could not imagine the full measure of that kind of devastation... That's how I used to be too, Tucker said. The tornado changed me. It had stripped away the facade of human civilization. It reminded him that he was an animal too. The scientific terms — loss of habitat, dead zone, on the brink — were not just words anymore. He knew what it felt like from the inside now. ~Abby Geni, The Wildlands, 2018

The packaging for a microwavable "microwave" dinner is programmed for a shelf life of maybe six months, a cook time of two minutes and a landfill dead-time of centuries.  ~David Wann, Buzzworm, November 1990

So bleak is the picture... that the bulldozer and not the atomic bomb may turn out to be the most destructive invention of the 20th century.  ~Philip Shabecoff, New York Times Magazine, 4 June 1978

Economic advance is not the same thing as human progress.  ~John Clapham, 1920s

The problem is no longer that with every pair of hands that comes into the world there comes a hungry stomach.  Rather it is that, attached to those hands are sharp elbows.  ~Paul A. Samuelson, Newsweek, 12 June 1967

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.  ~Bill Vaughn

For two hundred years we've been conquering Nature. Now we're beating it to death. ~Tom McMillan, 1989

the wilderness died
of a broken heart—
from bad decisions and
evil battles of grown men
~Terri Guillemets, "Killing nature," 2019, blackout poetry created from Rafe Martin, Birdwing, 2005, pages 47–49

If civilization has risen from the Stone Age, it can rise again from the Wastepaper Age.  ~Jacques Barzun, The House of Intellect, 1959

I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.  ~Elwyn Brooks White, Essays of E.B. White, 1977

The insufferable arrogance of human beings to think that Nature was made solely for their benefit, as if it was conceivable that the sun had been set afire merely to ripen men's apples and head their cabbages.  ~Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, États et empires de la lune, 1656

Such is the audacity of man, that he hath learned to counterfeit Nature, yea, and is so bold as to challenge her in her work.  ~Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, translated by Philemon Holland

Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain's majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.
~George Carlin

A living planet is a much more complex metaphor for deity than just a bigger father with a bigger fist.  If an omniscient, all-powerful Dad ignores your prayers, it's taken personally.  Hear only silence long enough, and you start wondering about his power.  His fairness.  His very existence.  But if a world mother doesn't reply, Her excuse is simple.  She never claimed conceited omnipotence.  She has countless others clinging to her apron strings, including myriad species unable to speak for themselves.  To Her elder offspring She says - go raid the fridge.  Go play outside.  Go get a job.  Or, better yet, lend me a hand.  I have no time for idle whining.  ~David Brin

Why do people give each other flowers?  To celebrate various important occasions, they're killing living creatures?  Why restrict it to plants?  "Sweetheart, let's make up.  Have this deceased squirrel."  ~The Washington Post

Till now man has been up against Nature; from now on he will be up against his own nature.  ~Dennis Gabor, Inventing the Future, 1964

This much scientists agree on: Five times in the history of the earth, most life has winked out. Five times, one species after the next disappeared, the chain collapsed, grazers died as the plants they depended on were lost, and predators disappeared shortly after, life on earth reaching as close to zero as you'd ever care to get... These are the really big ones... endings you would be glad not to witness. But you may not have a choice, because we appear to be in one now. ~Craig Childs, Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Future of the Earth, 2012

When you defile the pleasant streams
And the wild bird's abiding place,
You massacre a million dreams
And cast your spittle in God's face.
~John Drinkwater

A virgin forest is where the hand of man has never set foot.  ~Author unknown

When a man says to me, "I have the intensest love of nature," at once I know that he has none.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals, 1857

I conceive that the land belongs to a vast family of which many are dead, few are living, and countless numbers are still unborn.  ~Author unknown

When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves.  ~David Orr

We cannot command Nature except by obeying her.  ~Francis Bacon

There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.  ~Robert Lynd, The Blue Lion and Other Essays

We are living too fast—yea, we are consuming the blessings given us, at a rate that may leave future generations to sit out in the cold and freeze to death. ~W.A. Pryal, "Lumber for Hives: Some Interesting Data on the Way Lumber is being Cut and Exported from this Country; the Giant Trees; California Redwood," Gleanings in Bee Culture, 1904 August 1st

Will urban sprawl spread so far that most people lose all touch with nature?  Will the day come when the only bird a typical American child ever sees is a canary in a pet shop window?  When the only wild animal he knows is a rat - glimpsed on a night drive through some city slum?  When the only tree he touches is the cleverly fabricated plastic evergreen that shades his gifts on Christmas morning?  ~Frank N. Ikard, North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, Houston, March 1968

How long can men thrive between walls of brick, walking on asphalt pavements, breathing the fumes of coal and of oil, growing, working, dying, with hardly a thought of wind, and sky, and fields of grain, seeing only machine-made beauty, the mineral-like quality of life?  ~Charles A. Lindbergh, Reader's Digest, November 1939

All in favor of conserving gasoline, please raise your right foot.  ~Author unknown

It is imperative to maintain portions of the wilderness untouched so that a tree will rot where it falls, a waterfall will pour its curve without generating electricity, a trumpeter swan may float on uncontaminated water - and moderns may at least see what their ancestors knew in their nerves and blood.  ~Bernand De Voto, Fortune, June 1947

Take care of the earth and she will take care of you.  ~Author unknown

We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.  ~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. ~Thích Nhất Hạnh

Such a beautiful world God gave to us,
      With its sunshine, its trees and flowers;
      And fleecy white clouds and the skies of blue,
      Its rainbows and April showers!
Such a beautiful world, a gift so rare,
      That was given to us at birth;
      But man has abused this great gift from God,
      This wondrous, colorful earth!
He is so filled with his craving for power,
      And earthly possessions, while here...
But some day he'll waken to what he's lost,
      In his scramble for gold to keep;
      His eyes will be opened and he'll be sad,
      For as he has sowed he will reap!
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham (1880–1971), "Such a Beautiful World"

Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste.  ~Wallace Stegner, letter to David E. Pesonen of the Wildland Research Center, 3 December 1960 (Thanks, Bekah)

Waste not the smallest thing created, for grains of sand make mountains, and atomies infinity.  ~E. Knight

Opie, you haven't finished your milk.  We can't put it back in the cow, you know.  ~Aunt Bee Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show

The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty.  The activist is the man who cleans up the river.  ~Ross Perot

Civilization... wrecks the planet from seafloor to stratosphere.  ~Richard Bach

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own Government to save our environment. ~Ansel Adams, interview with David Sheff, published March 1983

We say we love flowers, yet we pluck them.  We say we love trees, yet we cut them down.  And people still wonder why some are afraid when told they are loved.  ~Author unknown

Take nothing but pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Kill nothing but time.
~Motto of the Baltimore Grotto, a caving society

Why should man expect his prayer for mercy to be heard by What is above him when he shows no mercy to what is under him?  ~Pierre Troubetzkoy

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.  ~Richard P. Feynman

Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect.  ~Chief Seattle, 1855

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. One fancies a heart like our own must be beating in every crystal and cell, and we feel like stopping to speak to the plants and animals as friendly fellow-mountaineers. Nature as a poet, an enthusiastic workingman, becomes more and more visible the farther and higher we go... ~John Muir, 1869, My First Summer in the Sierra

You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one.  ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes, 1755

Understanding the laws of nature does not mean that we are immune to their operations.  ~David Gerrold

Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall.  He will end by destroying the earth.  ~Albert Schweitzer, quoted in James Brabazon, Albert Schweitzer

The mother of the year should be a sterilized woman with two adopted children.  ~Paul R. Ehrlich

Man is a blind, witless, low brow, anthropocentric clod who inflicts lesions upon the earth.  ~Ian McHarg

Man must feel the earth to know himself and recognize his values.... God made life simple.  It is man who complicates it.  ~Charles A. Lindbergh, Reader's Digest, July 1972

The control man has secured over nature has far outrun his control over himself.  ~Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, 1953

The old Lakota was wise.  He knew that man's heart away from nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.  ~Chief Luther Standing Bear

The magnificence of mountains, the serenity of nature - nothing is safe from the idiot marks of man's passing.  ~Loudon Wainwright

Every day is Earth Day.  ~Author unknown

Remember when atmospheric contaminants were romantically called stardust?  ~Lane Olinghouse

Nature's laws affirm instead of prohibit.  If you violate her laws you are your own prosecuting attorney, judge, jury, and hangman.  ~Luther Burbank

Dig a trench through a landfill and you will see layers of phone books like geographical strata or layers of cake.... During a recent landfill dig in Phoenix, I found newspapers dating from 1952 that looked so fresh you might read one over breakfast.  ~William Rathje, The Economist, 8 September 1990

Environmentalists have long been fond of saying that the sun is the only safe nuclear reactor, situated as it is some ninety-three million miles away.  ~Stephanie Mills, ed., In Praise of Nature, 1990

How can the spirit of the earth like the white man?... Everywhere the white man has touched it, it is sore.  ~Anonymous Wintu Woman

Our environmental problems originate in the hubris of imagining ourselves as the central nervous system or the brain of nature.  We're not the brain, we are a cancer on nature.  ~Dave Foreman, Harper's, April 1990

If then the air can so easily become vitiated, what must its condition be in such places, especially in towns, where so many causes combine to corrupt it! That is why town's people like so much to go into the country, there to breathe a purer and healthier air whereby better blood and in general better humours are formed. ~Sebastian Kneipp, Thus Shalt Thou Live: Hints and Advice for the Healthy and the Sick on a Simple and Rational Mode of Life and a Natural Method of Cure, 1889, translated from the 19th German edition

Air.— In the country an emanation from the pure sky, perfumed by the flowery earth; in London a noxious compound of fog, smoke, putridity, and villanous exhalations. ~"Specimens of a Patent Pocket Dictionary, For the use of those who wish to understand the meaning of things as well as words," The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, 1824

The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.  ~Carl Sagan

I don't agree with you in saying that in all human minds there is poetry. Man as he came from the hand of his Maker was poetic in both mind and body, but the gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual. ~John Muir, letter to John B. McChesney, 1871 September 19th, from Yosemite (University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections, © 1984 Muir-Hanna Trust)

Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.  ~Henry David Thoreau, "Chesuncook," The Maine Woods, 1848

Man maketh a death which Nature never made.  ~Edward Young

Did you ever stop to think that maybe the weed killers and the pest killers and the germ killers are trying to kill you? ~Terri Guillemets, "Omnicide," 2005

It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life.  ~Rachel Carson

God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the west... keeping the world in chains.  If [our nation] took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts.  ~Mahatma Gandhi

It is the safest of times, it is the riskiest of times.... What the Dickens is going on here?  ~Denton Morrison, on chemicals, technology, and risk, quoted in National Academy of Sciences, Improving Risk Communication, 1989

Human consciousness arose but a minute before midnight on the geological clock.  Yet we mayflies try to bend an ancient world to our purposes, ignorant perhaps of the messages buried in its long history.  Let us hope that we are still in the early morning of our April day.  ~Stephen Jay Gould, "Our Allotted Lifetimes," The Panda's Thumb, 1980

Humanity is on the march, earth itself is left behind.  ~David Ehrenfeld, The Arrogance of Humanism, 1978

The American reading his Sunday paper in a state of lazy collapse is perhaps the most perfect symbol of the triumph of quantity over quality.... Whole forests are being ground into pulp daily to minister to our triviality.  ~Irving Babbitt

Drive Nature forth by force, she'll turn and rout
The false refinements that would keep her out.
~Horace, Odes

The end of days is an event I believe we're actually going to create for ourselves... The earth itself won't be destroyed. There's not a meteor shower out there with our name on it... From ancient civilizations to today's experts, we've been warned over and over and over again:  if we don't take care of this sacred home we've been given, it won't be able to provide us with shelter, food, and comfort any longer, just as surely as a house we abuse and neglect will be condemned as unfit for human habitation sooner or later... Sometimes you'd think that we're all a bunch of teenagers, left unsupervised in the house while our parents are away. ~Sylvia Browne, End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies about the End of the World, 2008

Nature always strikes back.  It takes all the running we can do to remain in the same place.  ~Rene Dubos, Medical Utopias, 1961

In its broadest ecological context, economic development is the development of more intensive ways of exploiting the natural environment.  ~Richard Wilkinson

We have met the enemy and he is us. ~Walt Kelly, Pogo, April 1970

One day you will read
in the National Geographic
of a faraway land
with no smelly bad traffic.
In those green-pastured mountains
of Fotta-fa-Zee
everybody feels fine
at a hundred and three
’cause the air that they breathe
is potassium-free
and because they chew nuts
from the Tutt-a-Tutt Tree.
This gives strength to their teeth,
it gives length to their hair,
and they live without doctors,
with nary a care...
~Dr. Seuss, You're Only Old Once!, 1986

Make our planet great again. ~Emmanuel Macron, 2017 June 1st, after Donald Trump's announcement of intent to withdraw the United States of America from the Paris climate change agreement

Ironically, rural America has become viewed by a growing number of Americans as having a higher [quality of life] not because of what it has, but rather because of what it does not have!  ~Don A. Dillman, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, January 1977

We have been god-like in the planned breeding of our domesticated plants, but rabbit-like in the unplanned breeding of ourselves.  ~Arnold Toynbee

The environment will take its toll on our immune systems, there’s no doubt about it. It's karmic, really, the earth’s way of paying us back for all the abuse and neglect — still another reason we’ve got to start treasuring and nurturing this planet if we ever expect it to do the same for us again. There will be dramatic increases in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, sterility and infertility, and countless, virtually untraceable allergies. It’s probably also a form of payback that we’ll be more vulnerable than ever to diseases carried by unhealthy animals... These illnesses and plagues will hit hard and very suddenly, much more quickly than scientists and researchers can keep up with them, let alone conquer them. ~Sylvia Browne, “The End of Days Through My Eyes,” End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies about the End of the World, 2008

Human destiny is bound to remain a gamble, because at some unpredictable time and in some unforeseeable manner nature will strike back.  ~Rene Dubos, Mirage of Health, 1959

Time and space - time to be alone, space to move about - these may well become the great scarcities of tomorrow.  ~Edwin Way Teale, Autumn Across America, 1956

Waste is a tax on the whole people.  ~Albert W. Atwood

It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature.  ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Soon silence will have passed into legend.  Man has turned his back on silence.  Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation... tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego.  His anxiety subsides.  His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.  ~Jean Arp

Man has been endowed with reason, with the power to create, so that he can add to what he's been given. But up to now he hasn't been a creator, only a destroyer. Forests keep disappearing, rivers dry up, wild life's become extinct, the climate's ruined and the land grows poorer and uglier every day. ~Anton Chekhov, Uncle Vanya, 1897

If the climate can change, then so can you. ~@thedeadauthor

On some issues, I'm a staunch Conservative — like curtailing greenhouse gas emissions so that we can Conserve the environment. ~Neil deGrasse Tyson, 2014

      "The Cheyenne revere the land and all that grows upon it," he told her seriously. "We are of the land and must do nothing to harm it. We take only what we need to survive, and waste nothing. Unlike the white man, we do not carve open the breast of Mother Earth with iron plows or cut down her trees to make fields and forts. We take what she offers, and it is sufficient for our needs.
      Never would we scar the land with roads as your people do, yet now they wish to deface our land with tracks for their iron horses. They bring soldiers and build more forts and drive the buffalo from the best grazing grounds. They seek the yellow rocks in our hills, and defile our burial grounds in their lust for these stones.
      ...This we cannot allow. They tell us they will pay us for the land, and it will then be theirs, but how can a man sell his heart?" ~Catherine Hart, Night Flame, 1989

A margin of life is developed by Nature for all living things — including man.  All life forms obey Nature's demands - except man, who has found ways of ignoring them.  ~Eugene M. Poirot, Our Margin of Life, 1978

When you use a push reel mower, you're "cutting" down on pollution and the only thing in danger of running out of gas is you! ~Terri Guillemets, "Today's labor," 2005  [Better yet, plant a vegetable garden instead of a lawn! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g, 2014]

After a visit to the beach, it's hard to believe that we live in a material world.  ~Pam Shaw

As we watch the sun go down, evening after evening, through the smog across the poisoned waters of our native earth, we must ask ourselves seriously whether we really wish some future universal historian on another planet to say about us:  "With all their genius and with all their skill, they ran out of foresight and air and food and water and ideas," or, "They went on playing politics until their world collapsed around them."  ~U Thant, speech, 1970

The command "Be fruitful and multiply" was promulgated, according to our authorities, when the population of the world consisted of two people.  ~William Ralph Inge, More Lay Thoughts of a Dean, 1931

Christianity, with its roots in Judaism, was a major factor in the development of the Western worldview.... A basic Christian belief was that God gave humans dominion over creation, with the freedom to use the environment as they saw fit.  Another important Judeo-Christian belief predicted that God would bring a cataclysmic end to the Earth sometime in the future.  One interpretation of this belief is that the Earth is only a temporary way station on the soul's journey to the afterlife.  Because these beliefs tended to devalue the natural world, they fostered attitudes and behaviors that had a negative effect on the environment.  ~Donald G. Kaufman and Cecilia M. Franz, Biosphere 2000:  Protecting Our Global Environment, 1996

For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.  ~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962

I realized that Eastern thought had somewhat more compassion for all living things.  Man was a form of life that in another reincarnation might possibly be a horsefly or a bird of paradise or a deer.  So a man of such a faith, looking at animals, might be looking at old friends or ancestors.  In the East the wilderness has no evil connotation; it is thought of as an expression of the unity and harmony of the universe.  ~William O. Douglas, Go East, Young Man, 1974

      Scientists have come together to name the next geologic epoch, a change we are very much part of... Many say the Holocene has ended and we are entering a new age. It is a time of widespread extinctions and unraveling climates, superstorms, and inundated cities... We call it Anthropocene. It means New Man, the time of humans. I prefer Hubriscene.
      I'm a fan of the Holocene, the time we're in, or at least have been since the close of the Ice Age... Am I sentimental to hold on to our familiar age? Who is not in love with these blue skies pillared with clouds, and the many species around us, the way more oxygen comes out of the ocean than methane, the deep breathing of the forests and grasslands? I do not want this party to end, yet another one seems to be starting, pushed onstage with zeal. ~Craig Childs, Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America, 2018

If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago.  If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.  ~Edward O. Wilson

Malthus has been buried many times, and Malthusian scarcity with him.  But as Garrett Hardin remarked, anyone who has to be reburied so often cannot be entirely dead.  ~Herman E. Daly, Steady-State Economics, 1977

Somebody told me it was frightening how much topsoil we are losing each year, but when I told that story around the campfire, nobody got scared.  ~Jack Handey

The human race will be the cancer of the planet.  ~Julian Huxley, attributed

Man will survive as a species for one reason:  He can adapt to the destructive effects of our power-intoxicated technology and of our ungoverned population growth, to the dirt, pollution and noise of a New York or Tokyo.  And that is the tragedy.  It is not man the ecological crisis threatens to destroy but the quality of human life.  ~René Dubos, quoted in Life, 28 July 1970

One of the first laws against air pollution came in 1300 when King Edward I decreed the death penalty for burning of coal.  At least one execution for that offense is recorded.  But economics triumphed over health considerations, and air pollution became an appalling problem in England.  ~Glenn T. Seaborg, Atomic Energy Commission chairman, speech, Argonne National Laboratory, 1969

And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried: "Look at this Godawful mess." ~Art Buchwald, 1970

Our children may save us if they are taught to care properly for the planet; but if not, it may be back to the Ice Age or the caves from where we first emerged.  Then we'll have to view the universe above from a cold, dark place.  No more jet skis, nuclear weapons, plastic crap, broken pay phones, drugs, cars, waffle irons, or television.  Come to think of it, that might not be a bad idea.  ~Jimmy Buffet, Mother Earth News, March-April 1990

In the sixties, you could always insult a guy by calling him "plastic." It meant he was phony or superficial. The opposite of plastic was "real." ~Elizabeth Royte, Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash, 2005

Vinyl is Satan's resin. ~Mark Gorrell  #plastics

Racial injustice, war, urban blight, and environmental rape have a common denominator in our exploitative economic system.  ~Channing E. Phillips, speech, Washington, D.C., 22 April 1970

The days a man spends fishing or spends hunting should not be deducted from the time that he's on earth.  In other words, if I fish today, that should be added to the amount of time I get to live.  That's the way I look at recreation.  That's why I'll be a big conservation, environmental President, because I plan to fish and hunt as much as I possibly can.  ~George Bush, quoted in Los Angeles Times, 30 December 1988

is beautiful
wild is free
wilderness is not
an empty canvas
for Man to do
what he will—
wilderness is
an already full canvas
painted by God
~Terri Guillemets

The desire to build a risk-free society has always been a sign of decadence.  It has meant that the nation has given up, that it no longer believes in its destiny, that it has ceased to aspire to greatness, and has retired from history to pet itself.  ~Henry Fairlie, quoted in Conservation Foundation Letter, November 1981

The exquisite sight, sound, and smell of wilderness is many times more powerful if it is earned through physical achievement, if it comes at the end of a long and fatiguing trip for which vigorous good health is necessary.  Practically speaking, this means that no one should be able to enter a wilderness by mechanical means.  ~Garrett Hardin, The Ecologist, February 1974

Man is a complex being: he makes deserts bloom — and lakes die. ~Gil Stern

Give a man secure possession of a bleak rock, and he will turn it into a garden; give him nine years' lease of a garden, and he will convert it into a desert. ~Arthur Young, 1787

Nature is neutral. Man has wrested from nature the power to make the world a desert or to make the deserts bloom. There is no evil in the atom; only in men's souls. ~Adlai Ewing Stevenson II, 1952

The struggle to save the global environment is in one way much more difficult than the struggle to vanquish Hitler, for this time the war is with ourselves.  We are the enemy, just as we have only ourselves as allies.  ~Al Gore

Give a man a fish, and he can eat for a day. But teach a man how to fish, and he'll be dead of mercury poisoning inside of three years. ~Charles Haas

Primeval forests! virgin sod!
      That Saxon has not ravish'd yet,
      Lo! peak on peak in stairways set—
      In stepping stairs that reach to God!
Here we are free as sea or wind,
      For here are set Time's snowy tents
      In everlasting battlements
      Against the march of Saxon mind.
~Joaquin Miller, "Isles of the Amazons," 1872

When the soil disappears, the soul disappears. ~Terri Guillemets

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. ~American Indian wisdom

The system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing.  Not so with technology.  ~E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful, 1973

The tourist business is a trap, it is a tained honey;
Man clearly should have stayed in bed, and not invented money.
~Kenneth E. Boulding, "The Ballad of Ecological Awareness," in M. Taghi Farvar and John P. Milton, eds., The Careless Technology, 1972

There is hope if people will begin to awaken that spiritual part of themselves, that heartfelt knowledge that we are caretakers of this planet.  ~Brooke Medicine Eagle

This is a beautiful planet and not at all fragile.  Earth can withstand significant volcanic eruptions, tectonic cataclysms, and ice ages.  But this canny, intelligent, prolific, and extremely self-centered human creature had proven himself capable of more destruction of life than Mother Nature herself.... We've got to be stopped.  ~Michael L. Fischer, Harper's, July 1990

Those who wish to pet and baby wild animals "love" them.  But those who respect their natures and wish to let them live normal lives, love them more.  ~Edwin Way Teale, Circle of the Seasons, 1953

To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one's own in the midst of abundance.  ~Buddha

Why are we destroying the land instead of taking care of it? It takes care of us. ~Terri Guillemets

To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.  ~Theodore Roosevelt, seventh annual message, 3 December 1907

Today's world is one in which the age-old risks of humankind - the drought, floods, communicable diseases - are less of a problem than ever before.  They have been replaced by risks of humanity's own making - the unintended side-effects of beneficial technologies and the intended effects of the technologies of war.  Society must hope that the world's ability to assess and manage risks will keep pace with its ability to create them.  ~J. Clarence Davies, quoted in Conservation Foundation, State of the Environment: An Assessment at Mid-Decade, 1984

U.S. consumers and industry dispose of enough aluminum to rebuild the commercial air fleet every three months; enough iron and steel to continuously supply all automakers; enough glass to fill New York's World Trade Center every two weeks.  ~Environmental Defense Fund advertisement, Christian Science Monitor, 1990

Water flows uphill towards money.  ~Anonymous, saying in the American West, quoted by Ivan Doig in Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert, 1986

Like wild animals, I am happy hiding.
The artificial frightens my being.
But it is time to fight for the earth.
~Terri Guillemets, "Fight for our lives," 2019, scrambled blackout poetry created from Rafe Martin, Birdwing, 2005, pages 150–151

Living in the midst of abundance we have the greatest difficulty in seeing that the supply of natural wealth is limited and that the constant increase of population is destined to reduce the American standard of living unless we deal more sanely with our resources.  ~W.H. Carothers

We have always had reluctance to see a tract of land which is empty of men as anything but a void.  The "waste howling wilderness" of Deuteronomy is typical.  The Oxford Dictionary defines wilderness as wild or uncultivated land which is occupied "only" by wild animals.  Places not used by us are "wastes."  Areas not occupied by us are "desolate."  Could the desolation be in the soul of man?  ~John A. Livingston, in Borden Spears, ed., Wilderness Canada, 1970

We must not be forced to explore the universe in search of a new home because we have made the Earth inhospitable, even uninhabitable.  For if we do not solve the environmental and related social problems that beset us on Earth - pollution, toxic contamination, resource depletion, prejudice, poverty, hunger - those problems will surely accompany us to other worlds.  ~Donald G. Kaufman and Cecilia M. Franz, Biosphere 2000:  Protecting Our Global Environment, 1996

Our modern industrial economy takes a mountain covered with trees, lakes, running streams and transforms it into a mountain of junk, garbage, slime pits, and debris.  ~Edward Abbey

We shall continue to have a worsening ecologic crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man.  ~Lynn White, Jr., "The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis," 1967

The victory of Christianity over paganism was the greatest psychic revolution in the history of our culture.  By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.  ~Lynn I. White, Jr., Science, 10 March 1967

All depends on the purpose; not even a blade of grass shall be cut without a worthy purpose. ~Kulārṇava Tantra

The word "wilderness" occurs approximately three hundred times in the Bible, and all its meanings are derogatory.  ~René Dubos, The Wooing of Earth, 1980

We're finally going to get the bill for the Industrial Age.  If the projections are right, it's going to be a big one:  the ecological collapse of the planet.  ~Jeremy Rifkin, World Press Review, 30 December 1989

Western society has accepted as unquestionable a technological imperative that is quite as arbitrary as the most primitive taboo:  not merely the duty to foster invention and constantly to create technological novelties, but equally the duty to surrender to these novelties unconditionally, just because they are offered, without respect to their human consequences.  ~Lewis Mumford

When a man wantonly destroys one of the works of man we call him a vandal.  When he destroys one of the works of god we call him a sportsman.  ~Joseph Wood Krutch

When some high-sounding institute states that a compound is harmless or a process free of risk, it is wise to know whence the institute or the scientists who work there obtain their financial support.  ~Lancet, editorial on the "medical-industrial complex," 1973

When we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up.... When we build houses, we make little holes.  When we burn grass for grasshoppers, we don't ruin things.  We shake down acorns and pinenuts.  We don't chop down the trees.  ~Wintu Indian, quoted in Julian Burger, The Gaia Atlas of First Peoples, 1990

We have to shift our emphasis from economic efficiency and materialism towards a sustainable quality of life and to healing of our society, of our people and our ecological systems.  ~Janet Holmes à Court

With laissez-faire and price atomic,
Ecology's Uneconomic,
But with another kind of logic
Economy's Unecologic.
~Kenneth E. Boulding, in Frank F. Darling and John P. Milton, eds., Future Environments of North America, 1966

You go into a community and they will vote 80 percent to 20 percent in favor of a tougher Clean Air Act, but if you ask them to devote 20 minutes a year to having their car emissions inspected, they will vote 80 to 20 against it.  We are a long way in this country from taking individual responsibility for the environmental problem.  ~William D. Ruckelshaus, former EPA administrator, New York Times, 30 November 1988

Zoos are becoming facsimiles - or perhaps caricatures - of how animals once were in their natural habitat.  If the right policies toward nature were pursued, we would need no zoos at all.  ~Michael Fox, Sierra, November-December 1990

I am the earth. You are the earth. The Earth is dying. You and I are murderers. ~Terri Guillemets

      Loyd:  "It has to do with keeping things in balance. It's like the spirits have made a deal with us. We're on our own. The spirits have been good enough to let us live here and use the utilities, and we're saying: We know how nice you're being. We appreciate the rain, we appreciate the sun, we appreciate the deer we took. Sorry if we messed up anything. You've gone to a lot of trouble, and we'll try to be good guests."
      Codi:  "Like a note you'd send somebody after you'd stayed in their house?"
      Loyd:  "Exactly like that. 'Thanks for letting me sleep on your couch. I took some beer out of the refrigerator, and I broke a coffee cup. Sorry, I hope it wasn't your favorite one.'"
      ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

To people who think of themselves as God's houseguests, American enterprise must seem arrogant beyond belief. Or stupid. A nation of amnesiacs, proceeding as if there were no other day but today. Assuming the land could also forget what had been done to it. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

The term "end of the world" is thrown around as if we know what it means. Apocalypse? What sort of apocalypse — one that destroys civilization, life, the entire planet? How does it work? Is there a way to stop it, or is it just going to steamroll us? And are we even asking the right questions?... Informed mainly by blockbuster films, the popular vision is that the end will be rather sudden and accompanied by a thrilling soundtrack as cities slide into the ocean and global climates swing overnight. ~Craig Childs, Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Future of the Earth, 2012

In an underdeveloped country, don't drink the water; in a developed country, don't breathe the air. ~Changing Times magazine

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Original post date 1998 March 18th
Last saved 2021 Jan 21 Thu 20:00 PST

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