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Environmental Quotes

Dear BEN Readers,
I have received numerous requests for copies of the quotes that appear in BEN. The following is a compilation of the quotes printed in BEN from Sept. 1998 to July 2001

Many of these quotes, over the years, have "rekindled" my spirit and passion for the environment. I hope you enjoy them, and please feel free to share them with friends.

Best Wishes,
Pat Byington
Editor and Publisher of BEN


Cahaba River, Alabama. Photo courtesy of Cahaba River Publishing.

"A viable neighborhood is a community: and a viable community is made up of
neighbors who cherish and protect what they have in common." - Wendell Berry


I think that I shall never see,
a poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed,
against the earth's sweet flowing breast.

A tree that looks at God all day,
and lifts her leafy arms to pray.

A tree that may in summer wear,
a nest of robins in her hair.

Upon whose bosom snow has lain,
who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree! -- Joyce Kilmer

"Frogs do for the night what birds do for the day... they give it a voice.
And that voice is a varied and stirring thing that ought to be better known."

"I have always liked frogs. I liked them since before becoming a zoologist,
and nothing I have had to learn about them since has marred the attachment.
I like "looks" of frogs and their outlook. And especially the way they get
together in wet places on warm nights and sing about sex." -- Dr.Archie
Carr, University of Florida zoology professor

"... all things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man ... the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports." -Chief Seattle, Duwamish

"Conservation is the foresighted utilization, preservation and/or renewal of forests, waters, lands and minerals, for the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time."-Gifford Pinchot

(Upon signing of the Wilderness Act, 1964) "If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." -President Lyndon B. Johnson

"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters." - Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

"Why is it that we judge development on what we have built rather than what we have preserved? We strive to protect what was built by man, but give little thought to protecting what was made by God." - Juanito G. Cambangay - Provincial Planning Officer Bohol Province, Philippines

"So let's leave some blue up above us Let's leave some green on the ground It's only ours to borrow, let's save some for tomorrow. Leave it and pass it on down"- Chorus to "Pass It On Down" by the country music group "Alabama"

"The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope." - Wendell Berry

"Savannas are magnificent wildflower gardens. Something is always blooming grass pink orchids, rose pogonia, rosebud orchids, ladies' tresses. In the heat of the summer the fringed orchids are torches through the meadows. Blue-eyed and yellow eyed grass, white eyed sedge. Meadow beauties. Fall brings on the composites, purple spires of liatris, also called blazing star, brown rayless sunflowers, goldenrod, bigelowia and coreopsis. The aster balduina pools like orange juice in the wettest places and clumps of pearl-tipped hatpins stick the carpet of forbs to the flat earth. White violets hover low." - Excerpt from Janisse Ray's "Ecology of a Cracker Childhood"

"Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man" - Stuart Udall

"Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you." - John Mui

"In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy." - Nature Conservancy's John Sawhill

"Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you." - John Muir

"We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent upon its vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed for our safety to its security and place, preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and, I will say the love we give our fragile craft.We cannot maintain it half fortunate, half miserable, half confident, half despairing, half slave to the ancient enemies of mankind and half free in a liberation of resources undreamed of until this day. No craft, no crew, can travel safely with such vast contradictions. On their resolution depends the security of us all." -Adlai Stevenson, July 1965

"The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask." - Nancy Newhall

"What's the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?" - Henry David Thoreau

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hand." - Psalm 19:1

"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it." - 1 Cor. 10:24

"Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man" - Stuart Udall

"To the dull mind nature is leaden. To the illumined mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The civilized people of today look back with horror at their medieval ancestors who wontonly destroyed great works of art or sat slothfully by while they destroyed. We have passed this stage... Here in the U.S. we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy our forests and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals - not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements. But at best it looks as if our people were awakening." - Theodore Roosevelt, "Outlook" June 25, 1913.

"We end, I think, at what might be called the standard paradox of the 20th century: our tools are better than we are, and grow faster than we do. They suffice to crack the atom, to command the tides. But they do not suffice for the oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it." - Aldo Leopold

"God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches and a thousand tempests and floods. But He cannot save them from fools." - John Muir

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you." - Frank Lloyd Wright

"In wilderness I sense the miracle of life." - Charles A. Lindbergh

"I bind unto myself today, the virtues of the starlit heaven, the glorious sun's life giving ray, the whiteness of the moon at even, the flashing of the lightning free, the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks, the stable earth, the deep salt sea, around the old eternal rocks." - St. Patrick's Breastplate, Hymn 370 in the Episcopal Church's 1982 Hymnal

"Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children." - Kenyan Proverb

"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." - Aldo Leopold

"Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there." - Gary Snyder

"The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: What good is it?.... if biotic, in the course of aeons has built something that we like but do not understand, then but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering. - Aldo Leopold

"We cannot solve the problems that we have created with the same thinking that created them." - Albert Einstein

"In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." - Baba Dioum

"To see a world in a grain of sand And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour" - William Blake

"You'll never miss the water 'til the well runs dry."

-"Father of the Blues" Alabamian W.C. Handy

"A man who has lost his sense of wonder is a man dead. - William of Saint Thierry

"... Praise Thee, wondrous God for the blessed watershed that is Alabama, pliant to man's needs, gracious to his questing spirit. May her sons and daughters not forget Thy bounty, nor fail to deserve Thy benediction through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen" - Alabama's Prayer at the National Cathedral

"We should preserve every scrap of biodiversity as priceless while we learn to use it and come to understand what it means to humanity." - from the book "The Diversity of Life" by Alabama native E.O. Wilson

"We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive." - Aldo Leopold

"God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars." - Martin Luther (1483-1546)

"Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God." - George Washington Carver (1864-1943)

"The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders." - Edward Abbey

"The Bible declares that on the sixth day God created man. Right then and there, God should have demanded a damage deposit." - From Jim Hightower's book "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos"

"Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty." - Albert Einstein

"Modern Society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyles." - Pope John Paul II

"The road to the future leads us smack into the wall. We simply ricochet off the alternatives that destiny offers. Our survival is no more than a question of 25, 50 or perhaps 100 years. - Jacques Cousteau

"To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from." - Congressional testimony of nature writer Terry Tempest Williams, 1995

"Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it." - President Theodore Roosevelt

"Living wild species are like a library of books still unread. Our heedless destruction of them is akin to burning the library without ever having read its books." - Rep. John Dingell of Michigan

"UNLESS someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." - From Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin." - Shakespeare

"Saint George killed the last dragon, and he was called a hero for it. I've never seen a dragon, and I wish he would have left at least one. Saint Patrick made a name for himself by running the snakes out of Ireland, leaving the place vulnerable to rodent infestation. This business of making saints out of men who exterminate their fellow creatures has got to stop. All I'm saying is, it's starting to get a little lonely up here at the top of the food chain." - Excerpt from the book "The Big Picture" by Comedian A. Whitney Brown

A nation that destroys it's soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people." - President Franklin Roosevelt

"Life is a daring adventure or nothing." - Alabamian Helen Keller

"Tug on anything at all and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe." - John Muir, Founder of the Sierra Club

If you have any questions or comments about this publication,
contact Pat Byington, the author and publisher of BEN
at 205-999-7655 or