Saturday, April 22 marks Earth Day 2017, the day that we all join together to celebrate the planet we share and its natural resources.
There's much to say about our planet and fortunately for us, some of history's greatest writers, thinkers and scientists have been commenting on the planet and our role in its survival since long before anyone worried about whether or not it could be destroyed. Some of those musings, from both past and present, are as relevant now — if not more — as they were in their own time. Here are 23 quotes about the planet and humans' duty toward the environment that ring true now more than ever before.
1. "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed."
— Mahatma Gandhi, as quoted in Small Is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher
2. "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, Earth Day founder and former Wisconsin governor
3. "The Congress, the Administration and the public all share a profound commitment to the rescue of our natural environment, and the preservation of the Earth as a place both habitable by and hospitable to man."
— Former President Richard Nixon, "Reorganization Plan No. 3" message to Congress about establishing the EPA, July 1970
4. "It is time for us now as a nation to exercise the same reasonable foresight in dealing with our great natural resources that would be shown by any prudent man in conserving and widely using the property which contains the assurance of well-being for himself and his children."
— Former President Theodore Roosevelt, remarks at the Conference on Conservation of Natural Resources, 1908.
5. "Scientists may depict the problems that will affect the environment based on available evidence, but their solution is not the responsibility of scientists but of society as a whole."
— Mario Molina, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry
6. "If we use resources productively and take to heart the lessons learned from coping with the energy crisis, we face a future confronted only ... by insurmountable opportunities. The many crises facing us should be seen, then, not as threats but as chances to remake the future so it serves all beings."
— L. Hunter Lovins and Amory B. Lovins, Utne Reader, 1989
7. "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."
— William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida
8. "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
9. "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. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself."
— Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us, 1951
10. "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.
11. "When the well's dry, we know the worth of water."
— Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac
12. "The weight of our civilization has become so great, it now ranks as a global force and a significant wild card in the human future along with the Ice Ages and other vicissitudes of a volatile and changeable planetary system."
— Dianne Dumanoski, Rethinking Environmentalism, 1998
13. "We owe our lives to the sun... How is it, then, that we feel no gratitude?"
— Lewis Thomas, Earth Ethics, 1990
14. "There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew."
— Marshall McLuhan, Canadian professor and intellectual
15. "What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another."
— Chris Maser, Forest Primeval: The Natural History of an Ancient Forest, 2001
16. "Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance."
— Former President Theodore Roosevelt
17. "What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"
— Henry David Thoreau, Familiar Letters
18. "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."
— Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt
19. "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save our environment."
— Ansel Adams, photographer and environmentalist, 1983
20. "The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations."
21. "My world, my Earth is a ruin. A planet spoiled by the human species. We multiplied and fought and gobbled until there was nothing left, and then we died. We controlled neither appetite nor violence; we did not adapt. We destroyed ourselves. But we destroyed the world first."
— Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed, 1974
22. "A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children."
— John James Audubon, American ornithologist, naturalist and painter
23. "It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement, the greatest source of visual beauty, the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living."
— David Attenborough, English broadcaster and naturalist