Writing Prompts: Environmental Quotes

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Writing Prompts: Environmental Quotes

Writing Prompts: Environmental Quotes
These quotes may be used as a basis for essay questions in a variety of subjects, including economics, government, biology, environmental science, chemistry, earth science, and global issues; as a starter to a persuasive essay, newspaper-style editorial or blog; as a quote for an SAT-style essay; as a journal entry after a walk in nature with impressions added by the student; as a start for a research report on the speaker or topic; in a reflections journal; as debate topics, etc.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank

Every day is Earth Day.  ~Author Unknown
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.  ~Native American Proverb
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead
Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.  ~William Ruckelshaus, Business Week, 18 June 1990
Leave the world better than you found it,

Take no more than you need,

Try not to harm life or the environment,

Make amends if you do.

~ Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce
There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed.  ~Mohandas K. Gandhi
There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth.  We are all crew.  ~Marshall McLuhan, 1964
Eventually we'll realize that if we destroy the ecosystem, we destroy ourselves. ~ Jonas Salk , American physician and microbiologist, 1914-95
Source Reduction is to garbage what preventive medicine is to health. ~William L. Rathje, Atlantic Monthly, December 1989
For many of us, water simply flows from a faucet, and we think little about it beyond this point of contact. We have lost a sense of respect for the wild river, for the complex workings of a wetland, for the intricate web of life that water supports. ~Sandra Postel, Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity, 2003.
The good news is we know what to do. The good news is, we have everything we need now to respond to the challenge of global warming. We have all the technologies we need; more are being developed. And as they become available and become more affordable when produced in scale, they will make it easier to respond. But we should not wait, we cannot wait, we must not wait. ~ Al Gore
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.  ~John Muir, 1913, in L.M. Wolfe, ed., John Muir, John of the Mountains:  The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, 1938
We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do."

~Barbara Ward, Only One Earth, 1972

And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
~William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 1599
The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard. ~ Gaylord Nelson, former governor of Wisconsin, founder of Earth Day
Only when I saw the Earth from space, in all its ineffable beauty and fragility, did I realize that humankind's most urgent task is to cherish and preserve it for future generations. ~ Sigmund Jahn, German cosmonaut
A society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy. ~ John Sawhill, former president/CEO of The Nature Conservancy
Modern technology
Owes ecology
An apology.
~Alan M. Eddison
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
...Do something. Pay your rent for the privilege of living on this beautiful, blue-green, living Earth. ~ Dave Foreman
When the well's dry, we know the worth of water. ~ Benjamin Franklin, (1706-1790), Poor Richard's Almanac
We are monumentally distracted by a pervasive technological culture that appears to have a life of its own, one that insists on our full attention, continually seducing us and pulling us away from the opportunity to experience directly the true meaning of our own lives.~ Al Gore
To halt the decline of an ecosystem, it is necessary to think like an ecosystem. ~ Douglas P. Wheeler, EPA Journal, September-October 1990
A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt
If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in Water. ~ Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey, 1957
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
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.  ~John Muir
What we do today, right now, will have an accumulated effect on all of our tomorrows. ~ Alexandra Stoddard, author
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 has 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
It is our collective and individual responsibility to protect and nurture the global family, to support its weaker members and to preserve and tend to the environment in which we all live. ~ Dalai Lama
True wisdom consists in not departing from nature and in molding our conduct according to her laws and model. ~ Seneca, ancient Roman writer
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.  ~Native American Wisdom
We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.  ~Albert Einstein
Your descendants shall gather your fruits. ~ Virgil
To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one's own in the midst of abundance.  ~Buddha
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
In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught. ~ Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist
We—human beings—are part of 'biodiversity.' We are dependent on the whole food chain down below us. ~ Darrell Merrell, heirloom vegetable farmer
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
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.  ~ Kahlil Gibran
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.  ~Albert Einstein
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.  ~John Burroughs
Nature will bear the closest inspection.  She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.  ~Henry David Thoreau
Drinking nature is an unquenchable thirst.  ~Berri Clove
Let us permit nature to have her way.  She understands her business better than we do.  ~Michel de Montaigne, translated
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action; try to use ordinary situations. ~ Jean Paul Richter, German Romantic novelist and humorist
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.~ John Muir
Pollution should never be the price of prosperity. ~ Al Gore, in a 2000 presidential-campaign speech
Every eight months, nearly 11 million gallons of oil run off our streets and driveways into our waters—the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. ~ “America’s Living Oceans” [Pew Oceans Report, 2003]
And how should a beautiful, ignorant stream of water know it heads for an early release - out across the desert, running toward the Gulf, below sea level, to murmur its lullaby, and see the Imperial Valley rise out of burning sand with cotton blossoms, wheat, watermelons, roses, how should it know?  ~Carl Sandburg, Good Morning America, 1928
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
The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.  ~Carl Sagan
The superior man seeks what is right; the inferior one, what is profitable. ~ Confucius

It's a job that's never started that takes the longest to finish. ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

No one has the right to use America's rivers and America's waterways, that belong to all the people, as a sewer. The banks of a river may belong to one man or one industry or one state, but the waters which flow between the banks should belong to all the people. ~ President Lyndon B. Johnson, upon signing the Clean Water Act of 1965
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
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
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
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
We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service relationship to humanity. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans. ~ Jacques Cousteau
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
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
We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one. ~ Jacques Cousteau
Unless someone like you is going to help a lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.

Dr. Seuss

Sources for quotes:
www.quotegarden.com/environment.html; Last modified 2007 Nov 10 Sat 10:36 PST
http://www.epa.gov/Region2/library/quotes.htm; Last updated on Wednesday, February 13th, 2008.


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