At this point it’s pretty rare to find anyone who is entirely unaware of the damage that humanity has done to the environment. And yet, people go on burning fossil fuels, cutting down trees, and dumping chemicals into water and soil as if it won’t one day compromise the ecosystem to such an extent that the planet is no longer able to support human life. Plenty of people want to pass the buck, knowing that they won’t live to see the day when Earth is no longer inhabitable. But that day is coming, and at the rate we’re going it isn’t that far off. So if you struggle to do your own part and you feel as though your efforts are futile against a population that seems largely incapable of self-preservation, here are just a few eco-quotes to give you a boost and get you back on track.

  1. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” – Gandhi. Our planet, including the soil we live on, the water we drink, and the air we breathe, can provide us with everything we need to survive. And so far it has supported our species. But when enough people want more than they need, and get it at the expense of a healthy environment, the environment may not survive us for long.
  2. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead. You alone may not have the power to stop deforestation, animal cruelty, waste, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, or any other environmental abuses. But you can vote, with both your ballots and your consumer dollars. You can select governmental representatives that want to pass legislation to protect the environment. And you can participate in purchasing goods and services from eco-friendly businesses. You can also lead by example and encourage others to follow.
  3. “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. The first part of making a difference in the world is gaining awareness of the problems that beset the environment, and perhaps the biggest is that people are unaware of their impact. We turn on lights and flush toilets like there’s an endless reserve of water and power, but it all comes from somewhere. If we don’t start thinking about ways to conserve our resources and find sustainable options, we may not only lose our water and power but our homes and our lives, as well.
  4. “The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.” – Ross Perot. A commitment to environmental protection does not come cheap. But anything worth having is worth fighting for, so if you value skies free of smog, lakes from which you can drink the water, soil that can support life, and biodiversity, then give your time, your money, and your full attention not only to raising awareness of the problems facing the environment, but also to the solutions.
  5. “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. Noted as the founder of Earth Day, Nelson was almost certainly speaking about the environment when he said these words. Although the man from Clearlake may not rate inclusion on popular websites  , perhaps because he’s not as well-known as other public figures, he lived up to these words and made a difference in the world, for both the future of our environment and the people living in it. And you can do the same.

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