Historic Quotes: The Best of 20 Years Ago Today

article image
Far longer than 20 years ago, Aristotle recognized intimacy and small numbers as essential to the good life.

The following historic quotes were published in MOTHER EARTH NEWS 20 years ago.

“The good life depends upon intimacy and small number.” — Aristotle

“It is no longer possible for non-Indians to believe in progress. After over-consumption, over-population and over-complications of life, you will have to turn to the Indian way of looking at things. Your way of life has gone about as far as it can and give you meaning.” — Vine Deloria Jr, Native American

“We all live on the spaceship Earth — and the nearest gas station is about 93 million miles away.” — Buckminster Fuller

“I don’t think there’s any question about it. If we had invested the incredible amounts of money in solar energy research that we’ve squandered over the past 20 or 25 years in an attempt to make atomic power work, we’d be using the sun to supply a substantial amount of our energy requirements right now.” — Ralph Nader

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as foundations of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” — John Muir

“The warnings are not heard. If heard, they are not believed. If believed, they are not thought to apply to the believer.” — An unidentified writer in the London Times

Since the beginning of time each generation has fought nature. Now in the life span of a single generation, we must turn and become the protector of nature.” — Jacques Cousteau

“Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.” — Albert Schweitzer

“The people in the United States do not have the happiness that comes from drinking good natural water. Instead, they drink dilute sewage containing chlorine and organic and industrial contaminants. They breathe air contaminated with oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, with hydrocarbons and aldehydes, with lead and carbon monoxide and soot. The quality of food continues to deteriorate.” — Linus Pauling, Nobel Prizewinner

“There is more to life than increasing its speed. — Gandhi

“The white man knows how to make everything …but he does not know how to distribute it.” — Sitting Bull, after giving what money he had to a group of ragged, hungry white boys

“The question is not whether [population growth] will stop. The question is when and how.” — Isaac Asimov

“Petroleum has become as much the drug of Western civilization as cigarettes and alcohol.” — Leonard Mosley

“Fission energy is safe only if a number of critical devices work as they should, if a number of people in key positions follow all their instructions, if there is no sabotage, no hijacking of the transports, if no reactor fuel processing plant or reprocessing plant or repository anywhere in the world is situated in a region of riots or guerilla activity and no revolution or war — even a `conventional one’ — take space in these regions. No acts of God can be permitted.” — Dr. Hannes Alfven, Nobel Prizewinner

“Inasmuch as man and his influence on his world is now so total, we actually have entered into a new phase of history. The consequences of man’s abuse of his own life support state, his planet, are immediately felt. And as the environment becomes more seriously damaged, the consequences of further abuse will all-the-more-rapidly become apparent.” — Ron Cobb

“This world is given to us on loan. We come and we go, and, after a time, we leave earth and air and water to others who come after us. My generation — or perhaps the one preceding mine — has been the first to engage, under the leadership of the exact sciences, in a destructive colonial warfare against nature. The future will curse us for it.” — Erwin Chargaff

“In former days, men sold themselves to the Devil to acquire magical powers. Nowadays they acquire these powers from science, and find themselves compelled to become devils.” — Bertrand Russell

The world’s being run by [people] who really take no responsibility for future generations. And in this day and age, with science as it is, we have to be responsible or we won’t survive.” — Dr. Helen Caldicott

“Which would you rather have? The earth as it was in 1500 — before the Age of Science — with its natural forests, clear streams, virgin soils, and precious metals intact? Or the earth as it is now — covered with stumps, foul streams, eroded soils, and left with a depleted store of precious metals?” — Walter Prescott Webb