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
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
They kill good trees to put out bad newspapers. ~James G. Watt, quoted in Newsweek, 8 March 1982
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
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
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
Nature always strikes back. It takes all the running we can do to remain in the same place. ~Rene Dubos, Medical Utopias, 1961QSCI
The control man has secured over nature has far outrun his control over himself. ~Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, 1953
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
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.
We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive. ~Albert Einstein
If civilization has risen from the Stone Age, it can rise again from the Wastepaper Age. ~Jacques Barzun, The House of Intellect, 1959LCD
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
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, 1857LCD
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
I’m not an environmentalist. I’m an Earth warrior. ~Darryl Cherney, quoted in Smithsonian, April 1990
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
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
Let us a little permit Nature to take her own way; she better understands her own affairs than we. ~Michel de Montaigne, translated, translation by Charles Cotton, revised by Hazlitt and Wight; Works. Book III, chap.13, Of Experience; BMC
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
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 TroubetzkoyCOE
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
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 ? Court
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
The word "wilderness" occurs approximately three hundred times in the Bible, and all its meanings are derogatory. ~René Dubos, The Wooing of Earth, 1980
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
Waste is a tax on the whole people. ~Albert W. AtwoodCOE
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.
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
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
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
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
Remember when atmospheric contaminants were romantically called stardust? ~Lane Olinghouse
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
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
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
There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew. ~Marshall McLuhan, 1964
Man is a blind, witless, low brow, anthropocentric clod who inflicts lesions upon the earth. ~Ian McHarg
The magnificence of mountains, the serenity of nature – nothing is safe from the idiot marks of man’s passing. ~Loudon Wainwright
A human being is part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole [of] nature in its beauty. ~Albert Einstein, 1950, in a letter, 4 March 1950, SS
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
We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap. ~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves. ~David Orr
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!line space
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,” 1872TPVgb
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
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
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
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
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, 1959QSCI
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
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
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
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. CarothersCOE
The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition. ~Carl Sagan
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, 1958LCD
How can the spirit of the earth like the white man?… Everywhere the white man has touched it, it is sore. ~Anonymous Wintu WomanCUL
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
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
~Alan M. Eddison
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
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.
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
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
The human race will be the cancer of the planet. ~Julian Huxley, attributedDCMOO
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
When you use a manual push mower, you’re "cutting" down on pollution and the only thing in danger of running out of gas is you! ~Grey Livingston
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
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
The rose has thorns only for those who would gather it. ~Chinese Proverb
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
Don’t blow it – good planets are hard to find. ~Quoted in Time
Civilization… wrecks the planet from seafloor to stratosphere. ~Richard Bach
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)
Opie, you haven’t finished your milk. We can’t put it back in the cow, you know. ~Aunt Bee Taylor, The Andy Griffith Showquoted in You Said a Mouthful, Ronald D. Fuchs, ed.
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
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
Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. ~Bill Vaughn, quoted in Jon Winokur, The Portable Curmudgeon, 1987
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