Quotations about the Environment

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


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


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


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


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


Let us a little permit Nature to take her own way; she better understands her own affairs than we.  ~Michel de Montaigne, translated


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.  ~Native American Proverb


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


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 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, A Concise Economic History of Britain, 1957


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 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 200 years we've been conquering Nature.  Now we're beating it to death.  ~Tom McMillan, quoted in Francesca Lyman, The Greenhouse Trap, 1990


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, √Čtats 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


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



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.  ~Thich Nhat Hanh


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 the environment.  ~Ansel Adams


Quotations about the Environment 2 

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