In New England they once thought blackbirds useless, and mischievous to the corn. They made efforts to destroy them. The consequence was, the blackbirds were diminished; but a kind of worm, which devoured their grass, and which the blackbirds used to feed on, increased prodigiously; then, finding their loss in grass much greater than their saving in corn, they wished again for their blackbirds.
To halt the decline of an ecosystem, it is necessary to think like an ecosystem.
How strange and wonderful is our home, our earth, with its swirling vaporous atmosphere, its flowing and frozen liquids, its trembling plants, its creeping, crawling, climbing creatures, the croaking things with wings that hang on rocks and soar through the fog, the furry grass, the scaly seas.
Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.
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.
When it comes down to it, would you really choose economics over environment? Where will you be when there is no clean air or water? Screw economics. I want to live.
As crude a weapon as the cave man’s club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life — a fabric on the one hand delicate and destructible, on the other miraculously tough and resilient, and capable of striking back in unexpected ways.
Increasingly, the world around us looks as if we hated it.
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.
We call that species most successful that has made its own kind its worst enemy.
When industrial pollutants finally make the air unbreathable, we will be advised to cover the cities over with plastic domes and air-condition them. Technological optimism is the snake oil of urban industrialism.
There are three kinds of people: The ones who learn by reading. The ones who learn by observation. And the rest, who have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
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.
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.
Imagine that the whole world belongs to you. The birch trees in New Hampshire’s White Mountains are yours, and so are the cirrus clouds in the western sky at dusk and the black sand on the beaches of Hawaii’s Big Island. You own everything, my dear sovereign — the paintings in all the museums of the world, as well as the Internet and the wild horses and the roads. Please take good care of it all, ok? Be an enlightened monarch who treats your domain with reverent responsibility.
I am I plus my surroundings, and if I do not preserve the latter, I do not preserve myself.
Environmentalism suddenly struck me as the most obvious philosophy imaginable: Let us not ruin forever where we live and work and breathe and eat. Earth’s future inhabitants will no doubt look upon our current environmental practices — maintained despite all manner of evidence that doing so will result in planetary ruin — roughly the way we look upon eighteenth-century surgery. And that is if we, and they, are very lucky.
For every person who has ever lived there will come, at last, a spring he will never see. Glory then in the springs that are yours.