Quotes about the Environment

Most popular environment quotes

A river has no politics.
The sea is the universal sewer.
And cast your spittle in God's face.
Kill no more pigeons than you can eat.
Environment controls the making of man.
Remember, this planet is also disposable.


Modern technology owes ecology an apology.


When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves.


Mining is like a search-and-destroy mission.
Don't blow it—good planets are hard to find.
— Time magazine


They kill good trees to put out bad newspapers.


The human race will be the cancer of the planet.
I'm not an environmentalist. I'm an Earth warrior.
Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees.
— Revelation 7:3


We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.
Humanity is on the march, earth itself is left behind.
We won't have a society if we destroy the environment.
The rose has thorns only for those who would gather it.

Chinese proverbs proverbs

Newspapers: dead trees with information smeared on them.


Economic advance is not the same thing as human progress.

mankind progress

We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.


There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.


The world has enough for man's need but not for man's greed.
Man is a complex being: he makes deserts bloom—and lakes die.


The stream won't be advised, therefore its course is crooked.
— African proverb

African proverbs proverbs

The Earth is the only home that any of us have—so far, anyway.


Man is a complex being: he makes deserts bloom - and lakes die.


Man shapes himself through decisions that shape his environment.


Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.

cancer growth

Civilization ... wrecks the planet from seafloor to stratosphere.
Repetition is the only form of permanence that nature can achieve.

impermanence nature

Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.
Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.
The earth is like a spaceship that didn't come with an operating manual.
I think God's going to come down and pull civilization over for speeding.
The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.

ambition spiritual universe

For 200 years we've been conquering Nature. Now we're beating it to death.


Because we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us.
Ecological devastation is the excrement, so to speak, of man's power worship.

ecology power

You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one.


What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?


We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

American proverbs Native American proverbs proverbs

The control man has secured over nature has far outrun his control over himself.
We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.
Take nothing but pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Kill nothing but time.
— Motto of the Baltimore Grotto, a caving society
It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.


The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.

education teaching

One of the healthiest ways to gamble is with a spade and a package of garden seeds.


You can tell all you need to about a society from how it treats animals and beaches.


It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature.


Understanding the laws of nature does not mean that we are immune to their operations.
If civilization has risen from the Stone Age, it can rise again from the Wastepaper Age.
Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.
Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.
Nature always strikes back. It takes all the running we can do to remain in the same place.
Man is a blind, witless, low brow, anthropocentric clod who inflicts lesions upon the earth.


The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun.
It wasn't the Exxon Valdez captain's driving that caused the Alaskan oil spill. It was yours.
— Greenpeace advertisement
One of the weaknesses of our age is our apparent inability to distinguish our need from our goals.

greed luxury

In an underdeveloped country, don't drink the water; in a developed country, don't breathe the air.
— Changing Times magazine
If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food either.


It is a sign of our power, and our criminal folly, then we can pollute the vast ocean and are doing so.
The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.

action Activism

The irony of the matter is that the future generations do not have a vote. In effect, we hold their proxy.
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.
The magnificence of mountains, the serenity of nature—nothing is safe from the idiot marks of man's passing.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

nature technology

The word 'wilderness', occurs approximately three hundred times in the Bible, and all its meanings are derogatory.

Bible Christianity

With laissez-faire and price atomic,
Ecology's Uneconomic,
But with another kind of logic
Economy's Unecologic.


Humanity is cutting down its forests, apparently oblivious to the fact that we may not be able to live without them.
A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children.
— Audubon journal
You can't be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.
Man must feel the earth to know himself and recognize his values ... God made life simple. It is man who complicates it.
Enjoy the world gently, 
enjoy the world gently. 
If the world is spoiled, 
no one can repair it.
Enjoy the world gently.
— Nigerian chant (The Song of the Babalawos)
In America today you can murder land for private profit. You can leave the corpse for all to see, and nobody calls the cops.
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.
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!
The system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing. Not so with technology.
Nature's laws affirm instead of prohibit. If you violate her laws you are your own prosecuting attorney, judge, jury, and hangman.
The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago... had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands.
The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago ... had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands.
Over the long haul of life on this planet, it is the ecologists, and not the bookkeepers of business, who are the ultimate accountants.
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.
Your grandchildren will likely find it incredible—or even sinful—that you burned up a gallon of gasoline to fetch a pack of cigarettes!


We haven't too much time left to ensure that the government of the earth, by the earth, for the earth, shall not perish from the people.


We haven't got too much time left to ensure that government of the earth, by the earth, for the earth, shall not perish from the people.


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


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.
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.


We may go down in history as an elegant technological society which underwent biological disintegration through lack of economic understanding.


There is hope if people will begin to awaken that spiritual part of themselves, that heartfelt knowledge that we are caretakers of this planet.
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.
So bleak is the picture ... that the bulldozer and not the atomic bomb may turn out to be the most destructive invention of the twentieth century.


Unless man can make new and original adaptations to his environment as rapidly as his science can change the environment, our culture will perish.
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.

Christianity nature

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.
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.
Destroying species is like tearing pages out of an unread book, written in a language humans hardly know how to read, about the place where they live.
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.
Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it alright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.
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.
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.
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.


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.
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.
If we go on the way we have, the fault is our greed and if we are not willing to change, we will disappear from the face of the globe, to be replaced by the insect.
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.
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.


Since the beginning each generation has fought nature. Now, in the life-span of a single generation, we must turn around 180 degrees and become the protector of nature.

human nature nature

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.


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.


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.
I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defence of our resources is just as important as defence abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?
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.


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.


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.

animals zoo

Man is slightly nearer to the atom than to the star. From his central position man can survey the grandest works of Nature with the astronomer, or the minutest works with the physicist.
The American people want to preserve their American heritage, and they have the quaint belief that public lands belong to them as much as to the people of the state where the lands are located.
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.
— The Lancet, editorial, 1973


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.
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.


We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That's not leadership. That's not going to happen.
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.


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.
The idea that there is a trade-off between growth and going green is pernicious and false. Experience demonstrates time and time again that greater wealth creation and a better quality of life for all go hand in hand.
Our world is evolving without consideration, and the result is a loss of biodiversity, energy issues, congestion in cities. But geography, if used correctly, can be used to redesign sustainable and more livable cities.

natural resources

Actually, there are countless ways to live upon this tremorous sphere in mirth and good health, and probably only one way – the industrial, urbanized, herding way – to live here stupidly, and man has hit upon that one way.

modern life

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.
Wildness is a benchmark, a touchstone. In the wilderness we can see where we have come from, where we are going, how far we've gone. In wilderness is the only unsullied earth sample of the forces generally at work in the universe.
Our ideals, laws and customs should be based on the proposition that each generation in turn becomes the custodian rather than the absolute owner of our resources - and each generation has the obligation to pass this inheritance on in the future.
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.


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.
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.
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?
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.
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.

natural resources

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 offence is recorded. But economics triumphed over health considerations, and air pollution became an appalling problem in England.


We stand today poised on a pinnacle of wealth and power, yet we live in a land of vanishing beauty, of increasing ugliness, of shrinking open space and of an overall environment that is diminished daily by pollution and noise and blight. This, in brief, is the quiet conservation crisis.
It would be less terrifying if one could really attribute the murder of beauty to any particular set of evil men: the trouble is that from man's first and wholly legitimate attempt to win safety and ease from Nature it seems, step by step, to lead on quite logically to universal suburbia.
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.


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.
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.
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.


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.

fishing hunting

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.


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 payphones, drugs, cars, waffle irons, or television. Come to think of it, that might not be a bad idea.
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?
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?
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 proverbs Native American proverbs proverbs

Every day we see increasing world problems because of rapidly expanding populations. safe and effective contraception is essential in man's battle to control his environment. Thus far, the Pill remains one of the most effective weapons. Taken properly, under careful medical supervision, it is still the most reliable means of preventing unwanted pregnancy that man has yet been able to devise for wide-scale use.
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.


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.

modern life technology

And the wild bird's abiding place, 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.'
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 God Awful mess'.
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.
Will this massive outcry [about pollution] continue long enough to have effective results? Will federal and state laws be enacted with effective enforcement clauses? Will people be concerned long enough to pay the bill through higher prices? Will towns tolerate lost jobs when it proves too costly to clean obsolete plants? ... I think so, but it sure won't be as easy as the present outcry and political oratory suggest. The answers to preserving a livable environment are not all simple, and some of the nuts now pushing simplistic cure-alls won't help bring about any lasting solutions.
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 behaviours that had a negative effect on the environment.


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.