It is blasphemy to separate oneself from the earth and look down on it like a god. It is more than blasphemy; it is dangerous. We can never be gods, after all — but we can become something less than human with frightening ease.
People today have forgotten they’re really just a part of nature. Yet they destroy the nature on which our lives depend. They always think they can make something better. Especially scientists. They may be smart, but most don’t understand the heart of nature. They only invent things that, in the end, make people unhappy. . . . [Most people] don’t know it, but they’re losing nature. They don’t see that they’re going to perish. The most important things for human beings are clean air and clean water.
I felt my lungs inflate with the inrush of scenery — air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
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 twenty 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.
If you see the world around you as a collection of objects for you to manipulate and exploit, you will inevitably destroy the world while attempting to control it.
To see ten thousand animals untamed and not branded with the symbols of human commerce is like scaling an unconquered mountain for the first time, or like finding a forest without roads or footpaths or the blemish of an axe. You know then what you had always been told — that the world once lived and grew without adding machines and newsprint and brick-walled streets and the tyranny of clocks.
I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It’s so fucking heroic.
Nature repairs her ravages — but not all. The uptorn trees are not rooted again; the parted hills are left scarred: if there is a new growth, the trees are not the same as the old, and the hills underneath their green vesture bear the marks of the past rending. To the eyes that have dwelt on the past, there is no thorough repair.
Thank God, they cannot cut down the clouds!
The reason to preserve wilderness is that we need it. We need wilderness of all kinds, large and small, public and private. We need to go now and again into places where our work is disallowed, where our hopes and plans have no standing.
The wilderness holds answers to questions man has not yet learned how to ask.
I love nature. I just don’t want to get any of it on me.
Love of the wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need — if only we had the eyes to see.
The earth is a living thing. Mountains speak, trees sing, lakes can think, pebbles have a soul, rocks have power.
Walking, I can almost hear [the heart of] the redwoods beating. And the oceans are above me here, rolling clouds, heavy and dark. . . . It’s a world of elemental attention, of all things working together, listening to what speaks in the blood. Whichever road I follow, I walk in the land of many gods, and they love and eat one another. Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.
The world has not to be put in order: the world is order incarnate. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order.