I’m still learning how dogged people can be in denial, even when their freedom or their lives are at stake.

Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower

Somehow, while we had all been busy, while we had been doing those small things that added up to living, the future had slipped into the present — and despite the fact that we had known that it would come, the overwhelming feeling, now that it was here, was of surprise.

Jessie Greengrass, The High House

The floods, the fires, the tornadoes, the hurricanes, the droughts, the water shortages, the earthquakes. . . . Why did I think it would nonetheless be business as usual? Because we’d been hearing these things for so long, I suppose. You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you.

Margaret Atwood, The Testaments

I am insulated from the weather by my house and its conditioned air. I eat strawberries in January. When it is raining, I can go inside. When it is dark, I can turn on lights. It is easy for me to feel like climate is mostly an outside phenomenon, whereas I am mostly an inside phenomenon.

John Green

I live in Miami, and if the polar ice caps start melting, I stand a good chance of waking up one morning and finding myself festooned with kelp. . . . I just don’t seem to have enough room in my brain for the greenhouse effect and all the other problems I know I should be concerned about, such as drugs and AIDS and Lebanon and pollution and cholesterol and caffeine and cancer and Japanese investors buying the Lincoln Memorial and nuclear war and dirty rock lyrics and this new barbecue grill we got.

Dave Barry

It is a mistake . . . to suppose that the public wants the environment protected or their lives saved and that they will be grateful to any idealist who will fight for such ends. What the public wants is their own individual comfort.

Isaac Asimov, The Gods Themselves

All we have to do is keep on denying how frightened we actually are. And then, bit by bit, we will have arrived at the place we most fear, the thing from which we have been averting our eyes.

Naomi Klein

We are like sleepwalkers, not knowing what we are doing or where we are heading. Whether we can wake up or not depends on whether we can walk mindfully on our Mother Earth. The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Let’s be, for a while, true optimists, and operate on the assumption that human beings are not grossly defective. Let’s assume we’re capable of acting together to do remarkable things.

Bill McKibben

No one who isn’t us is going to destroy Earth, and no one who isn’t us is going to save it. The most hopeless conditions can inspire the most hopeful actions. We have found ways to restore life on Earth in the event of a total collapse because we have found ways to cause a total collapse of life on Earth. We are the flood, and we are the ark.

Jonathan Safran Foer

Belen said repeatedly, actually it was very simple, all you had to do was hold corporations responsible for their emissions, but for whatever reason her voice seemed to get drowned out by something, usually heartwarming ads where oil was being cleaned off of ducks with Very Effective dish soap.

Olivie Blake, The Atlas Paradox

This readiness to assume the guilt for the threats to our environment is deceptively reassuring: We like to be guilty since, if we are guilty, it all depends on us. We pull the strings of the catastrophe, so we can also save ourselves simply by changing our lives.

Slavoj Žižek

To argue that the current extinction event could be averted if people just cared more and were willing to make more sacrifices is not wrong, exactly; still, it misses the point. It doesn’t much matter whether people care or don’t care. What matters is that people change the world.

Elizabeth Kolbert

How will we sing when Miami goes underwater, when the raft of garbage in the ocean gets as big as Texas . . . ? I don’t know. And I imagine sometimes, often, we will get it wrong. But I’m not celebrating the earth because I am an optimist — though I am an optimist. I am celebrating because this magnificent rock we live on demands celebration. I am celebrating because how in the face of this earth could I not?

Pam Houston