Underground nuclear testing, defoliation of the rain forests, toxic waste . . . Let’s put it this way: if the world were a big apartment, we wouldn’t get our deposit back.
“It’s a question of discipline,” the little prince told me. “When you’ve finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend your planet.”
Western society has accepted as unquestionable a technological imperative that is quite as arbitrary as the most primitive taboo: not merely the duty to foster invention and constantly to create technological novelties, but equally the duty to surrender to these novelties unconditionally, just because they are oﬀered, without respect to their human consequences.
And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles, and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried: “Look at this God-awful mess.”
The human race has had long experience and a fine tradition in surviving adversity. But we now face a task for which we have little experience: the task of surviving prosperity.
We’re in a giant car heading toward a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.
The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx, and Balanchine ballets don’t redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world.
We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.
In the long term, the economy and the environment are the same thing. If it’s unenvironmental, it is uneconomical. That is the rule of nature.
Human consciousness arose but a minute before midnight on the geological clock. Yet we mayflies try to bend an ancient world to our purposes, ignorant perhaps of the messages buried in its long history. Let us hope that we are still in the early morning of our April day.
The time to begin most things is ten years ago.
Between the great things we cannot do and the small things we will not do, the danger is that we shall do nothing.
If you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.
For several centuries Western civilization has had a drive for material accumulation, continual extensions of economic power, termed “progress.”. . . The longing for growth is not wrong. The nub of the problem is how to flip over, as in jujitsu, the magnificent growth energy of modern civilization into a nonacquisitive search for deeper knowledge of self and nature.
Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas; take your next trip in kilometers.
We all have to excel at one of two things. Either we become good at planting in the spring, or we learn how to beg in the fall.
If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future . . . with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.
Individual advances turn into social change when enough of them occur.
Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.
The wonder of the world, the beauty, and the power, the shapes of things, their colors, lights and shades, these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.