Scroll To Top
Global Stewards - Green Eco Tips for a Healthy Planet

page sections

Nature and Animal Quotes


Connecting to Nature

Humankind's greatest priority is to reintegrate with the natural world.  Jonathon Porritt

If we are to use our tools in the service of fitting in on Earth, our basic relationship to nature--even the story we tell ourselves about who we are in the universe--has to change.  Janine M. Benyus

In reality, we haven't escaped the gravity of life at all.  We are still beholden to ecological laws, the same as any other life-form.  Janine M. Benyus

Our little Spaceship Earth is only eight thousand miles in diameter, which is almost a negligible dimension in the great vastness of space.  R. Buckminster Fuller

Our relationship with nature is more one of being than having.  We are nature: we do not have nature.  Steven Harper

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.  Rachel Carson

We are the earth, made of the same stuff; there is no other, no division between us and "lower" or "higher" forms of being.  Estella Lauder

We stand somewhere between the mountain and the ant.  Native American (Onondaga) Proverb

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night.  It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time.  It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the Sunset.  Crowfoot

What we most need to do is to hear within us the sound of the Earth crying.  Thich Nhat Hanh

When man moves away from nature his heart becomes hard.  Native American (Lakota) Proverb

Each kind of tree is a sort of musical instrument: the apple a cello, the old oak a bass viol, the cypress a harp, the willow a flute, the young pine a muted violin.  Put your ear close to the whispering branch and you may catch what it is saying.  Guy Murchie, Jr.

Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind become still.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.  Lao Tzu

He was alone.  He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life.  He was alone and young and willful and wild-hearted, alone amidst a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the seaharvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight.  James Joyce

If I were to choose the sights, the sounds, the fragrances I most would want to see and hear and smell--among all the delights of the open world--on a final day on earth, I think I would choose these: the clear, ethereal song of a white-throated sparrow singing at dawn; the smell of pine trees in the heat of the noon; the lonely calling of Canada geese; the sight of a dragon-fly glinting in the sunshine; the voice of a hermit thrush far in a darkening woods at evening; and--most spiritual and moving of sights--the white cathedral of a cumulus cloud floating serenely in the blue of the sky.  Edwin Way Teale, "On a Final Day"

The world of life, of spontaneity, the world of dawn and sunset and starlight, the world of soil and sunshine, of meadow and woodland, of hickory and oak and maple and hemlock and pineland forests, of wildlife dwelling around us, of the river and its wellbeing--all of this [is] the integral community in which we live.  Thomas Berry

There were no boundaries or borders.  It was as if my mind had once long ago made up a story about separate objects with boundaries but the story wasn't true.  The true story is that there is a luminous, spacious energy that flows through everything all the time.  It's within matter, within things as well as within space, and you can tune in to it at any time, just like changing the frequency on the radio.  There is no distance between this essence and ourselves.  It is not otherworldly.  It is right here, closer than our own flesh.  Vijali Hamilton

To garden, you open your personal space to admit a few, a great many, or thousands of plants which exude charm, pleasure, beauty, oxygen, conversation, friendship, confidence, and other rewards should you succeed in meeting their basic needs.  Tom Clothier 

Wonderful how completely everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us.  The sun shines not on us, but in us.  The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing.  John Muir

Eating what you have grown completes a cycle, from seed to table, that humans have been fulfilling for thousands of years.  In our busy and alienated existence we rarely have opportunities to meet our physical needs so directly.  Pam Peirce

Americans are indoors about 87 percent of the time.  Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  John Muir

Man has been driven out of the paradise in which he could trust his instincts.  Konrad Lorenz

Nature has been for me, for as long as I remember, a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.  Lorraine Anderson 


Learning from Nature

If we are willing to be still and open enough to listen, wilderness itself will teach us.  Steven Harper

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man
Of moral evil and of good
Than all the sages can.  William Wordsworth

Pray to understand what man has forgotten.  Native American (Lumbee) Proverb

Sit down before fact like a little child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.  T.H. Huxley

The source of man's unhappiness is his ignorance of Nature.  Paul Henry Thiry D'Holdbach

There is no other door to knowledge than the door nature opens; there is no truth except the truths we discover in nature.  Luther Burbank

Listen to the voice of nature, for it holds treasures for you.  Native American (Huron) Proverb

A solitary American monk named Thomas Berry writes that in our relationship to nature, we have been autistic for centuries.  Wrapped tightly in our own version of knowledge, we have been unreceptive to the wisdom of the natural world.  To tune in again, to have the "spontaneous environmental rapport" that characterized our ancestors, will take doing something that is perfectly delightful: reimmersing ourselves in the natural world.  Janine M. Benyus

If the age of the Earth were a calendar year and today were a breath before midnight on New Year's Eve, we showed up a scant fifteen minutes ago, and all of recorded history has blinked by in the last sixty seconds.  Luckily for us, our planet-mates--the fantastic meshwork of plants, animals, and microbes--have been patiently perfecting their wares since March, an incredible 3.8 billion years since the first bacteria. ...After 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival.  Janine M. Benyus


Respecting Nature

Virtually all native cultures that have survived without fouling their nests have acknowledged that nature knows best, and have had the humility to ask the bears and wolves and ravens and redwoods for guidance.  Janine M. Benyus

I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.  Elwyn Brooks White (1899-1985) Essays of E. B. White, 1977

Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.  Juvenal, Satires

As long as we relate to the trees, the rivers, the mountains, the fields and the oceans as properties which we can manipulate according to our real or fabricated needs, nature remains opaque, and does not reveal to us its true being.  Henri J.M. Nouwen

For a long time we have thought we were better than the living world, and now some of us tend to think we are worse, that everything we touch turns to soot.  But neither perspective is healthy.  We have to remember how it feels to have equal standing in the world, to be "between the mountain and the ant . . . part and parcel of creations," as the Iroquois traditionalist Oren Lyons says.  Janine M. Benyus

From a human point of view, the difference between the mind of a human and that of a mountain goat is wonderful; from the point of view of the infinite ignorance that surrounds us, the difference is not impressive. Indeed, from that point of view, the goat may have the better mind, for he is more congenially adapted to his place, and he would not endanger his species or his planet for the sake of an idea. Wendell Berry, "A Question a Day: A Written Conversation with Wendell Berry"

Look at our brokenness.
We know that in all creation
Only the human family has strayed from the Sacred Way.
We know that we are the ones who are divided.
And we are the ones who must come back together,
To walk in the Sacred Way.

O Sacred One,
Teach us love, compassion and honor
That we may heal the earth
And heal each other. Ojibway Prayer

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn. Henry David Thoreau

If you are not radiant with joy and friendliness, if you are not filled to overflowing with love and goodwill for all beings and all creatures and all creation, one thing is certain: you do not know God! Peace Pilgrim, Peace Pilgrim

In God's eyes, all creatures have value whether we find them cuddly, affectionate, beautiful or otherwise.  Our own perspective--in a way--is neither here nor there.  Theology, at its best, can help to liberate us from our own anthropocentric limitations. Rev. Dr. Andrew Linzey (sp)

It is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it.  Wendell Berry

Less than 1 percent of the species that have emerged since the advent of life on our planet more than 3 billion years ago are still alive today.  The nonhuman organisms, be they animal, plant, fungi, algae or bacteria, that have successfully survived and reproduced for thousands, and even millions, of generations have done so because they have mastered the survival game... Deborah Rich

The concept known as bal tashchit--'Do no destroy'--has a special significance in Jewish tradition...We are constantly being warned in our faith that the capricious, thoughtless, wasteful destruction of the elements and creatures of the earth is wrong...We should remind ourselves daily of our responsibility to all aspects of creation.  David Geffen, M.D., Atlanta Jewish Times, February 1, 1980

Today's massive loss of species and habitat will be slowed only when the human community understands that nature is not an inferior to be exploited or an enemy to be destroyed but an ally requiring respect and replenishment.  We are part of the web of life.  Many strands already have broken.  We must act quickly to repair what we can.  Our lives and livelihood depend on it.  United Nations Environment Programme

We live in a world we did not create and cannot control.  Timothy C. Weiskel

We need to understand ourselves as biological creatures at one with the diversity of all life.  When we can truly see this unity and interdependence, we will find nature to be forgiving, generous, and resilient.  Kenny Ausubel

We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable supplies of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft.  Adlai Stevenson, in Exploring New Ethics for Survival

"What's miraculous about a spider's web?" said Mrs. Arable.  "I don't see why you say a web is a miracle--it's just a web."
"Ever try to spin one?" asked Mr. Dorian.  E.B. White in Charlotte's Web

"Lots of people talk to animals," said Pooh..."Not very many listen, though," he said.  Benjamin Hoff


Nature's Laws

The fact is that consumption is limited by nature's reproductive capacity--over-consumption today means less natural capital and lower natural income tomorrow.  This, in turn, may force future generations to accelerate the downward spiral as they erode remaining stocks of natural capital to meet their own consumption needs.  In other words, life on Earth (including human life) can be sustained only within the limits of the dividends nature pays on our remaining stocks and future investments in natural capital. ...sustainability requires that the human enterprise remain within global carrying capacity.  Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees

The Earth's biophysical systems are large, complex, self-organizing entities.  This means there is typically a long lag time between economic cause and ecological effect.  (For example, whatever global warming we may already have experienced is not the result of today's levels of greenhouse gases but rather the levels reached perhaps 40 years ago; even though CFC production may be winding down, ozone depletion may worsen for a decade and it may be a half century or more before stratospheric ozone returns to normal.) Thus, the temptation to wait until we are certain that a particular trend is fatal, dangerous or simply uneconomic before deciding on corrective action leads us into an ecological trap.  At best, the delay simply further entrenches our unsustainable lifestyles, making change the more difficult; at worst, it will be too late to do anything to reverse the trend.  Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees

Cooperation for mutual benefit, a survival strategy very common in natural systems, is one that humanity needs to emulate.  Eugene Odum

Human beings are the only creatures who are able to behave irrationally in the name of reason.  Ashley Montagu, quoted in New York Times

It may not be irrelevant to note that even very modest forms of life, like earthworms, dung beetles and fiddler crabs, have no trouble identifying the real problems they must deal with if they are to survive.  Edward Goldsmith

Nature is an endless combination and repetition of a very few laws. She hums the old well-known air through innumerable variations.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nature never deceives us; it is always we who deceive ourselves.  Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile (single quote over first e of emile)

Nature's law affirm instead of prohibit. If you violate her laws, you are your own prosecuting attorney, judge, jury, and hangman.  Luther Burbank

Ninety-nine percent of all species that ever lived are now extinct.  Edward O. Wilson

Our most serious problem, perhaps, is that we have become a nation of fantasists.  We believe, apparently, in the infinite availability of finite resources.  Wendell Berry

Our present ecological overshoot is indicated by the global degradation of forests, soil, water systems, fisheries and biological diversity.  Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees

Serious harm, I am afraid, has been wrought to our generation by fostering the idea that they would live secure in a permanent order of things.  Helen Keller, Let Us Have Faith

The first law of ecology is that everything is related to everything else.  Barry Commoner

The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.  Sioux Indian Proverb

The mistakes that are made now are made for all time.  Rachel Carson

The real survivors are the Earth inhabitants that have lived millions of years without consuming their ecological capital, the base from which all abundance flows.  Janine M. Benyus

The world is not to be put in order, the world is order incarnate.  It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order.  Henry Miller

We have forgotten the earth, forgotten it in the sense that we fail to regard it as a source of our life.  Fairfield Osborn

What we lack is intellectual and emotional acceptance of the fact that humanity is materially dependent on nature and that nature's productive capacity is limited.  Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees

Nature is evenly balanced.  We cannot disturb her equilibrium, for we know that the law of Cause and Effect is the unerring and inexorable law of nature; but we do fail to find our own equilibrium as nations and as individuals, because we have not yet learned that the same law works as inexorably in human life and in society as in nature -- that what we sow, we must inevitably reap.  Sidney Bremer

Overshoot is growth beyond carrying capacity.  Carrying capacity limits can be overshot without a "big bang" because of the availability of large capital stocks.  Harvests can still increase and money incomes rise, and while there may be indications of ecological stress, all else may seem normal.  Ultimately, however, the consequences of eroded natural capital may be felt as eco-catastrophe and population crash.  Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees

The idea of absolute freedom is fiction. It's based on the idea of an independent self. But in fact, there's no such thing. There's no self without other people. There's no self without sunlight. There's no self without dew. And water. And bees to pollinate the food that we eat...So the idea of behaving in a way that doesn't acknowledge those reciprocal relationships is not really freedom, it's indulgence.  Peter Coyote, New Age, August 1998

The most irrevocable of [natures] laws says that a species cannot occupy a niche that appropriates all resources--there has to be some sharing.  Any species that ignores this law winds up destroying its community to support its own expansion.  Janine M. Benyus

The time has come to lower our voices, to cease imposing our mechanistic patterns on the biological processes of the earth, to resist the impulse to control, to command, to force, to oppress, and to begin quite humbly to follow the guidance of the larger community on which all life depends.  Thomas Berry

What we a thoroughgoing reformation of our public theology of growthism.  Timothy Weiskel

The underlying economic logic of an economy based on unlimited growth remains largely unchallenged in public discourse.  Timothy C. Weiskel

We are grossly wasting our energy resources and other precious raw materials as though their supply were infinite.  We must even face the prospect of changing our basic ways of living.  This change will either be made on our own initiative in a planned and rational way, or forced on us with chaos and suffering by the inexorable laws of nature.  Jimmy Carter, A Government as Good as Its People

What is happening now is of a geological and biological order of magnitude.  We are upsetting the entire earth system that, over some billions of years and through an endless sequence of groping, of trials and errors, has produced such a magnificent array of living forms, forms capable of seasonal self-renewal over vast periods of time.  Thomas Berry, "The Universe and the University"


For the Love of Animals

A good deed done to an animal is as meritorious as a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being.  Mohammed 

By ethical conduct toward all creatures, we enter into a spiritual relationship with the universe.  Albert Schweitzer, The Teaching of Reverence for Life

Harm no other beings.  They are just your brothers and sisters.  Buddha

He is closest to God who harms no living creature.  Bhagavad Gita

Human nature will find itself only when it fully realizes that to be human it has to cease to be beastly or brutal.  Mahatma Gandhi

I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights.  That is the way of a whole human being.  Abraham Lincoln

I cannot but have reverence for all that is called life.  I cannot avoid compassion for everything that is called life.  That is the beginning and foundation of morality.  Albert Schweitzer, quoted in Reverence for Life

I feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.  Mahatma Gandhi

I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.  Mahatma Gandhi

If [man] is not to stifle human feelings, he must practice kindness toward animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men.  We can judge the heart of man by his treatment of animals.  Immanuel Kent

If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.  St. Francis of Assisi, quoted in Life by St. Bonaventura

It should not be believed that all beings exist for the sake of the existence of man.  On the contrary, all other beings too have been intended for their own sakes and not for the sake of anything else.  Maimonides (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon)

Kindness to all God's creatures is an absolute rock-bottom necessity if peace and righteousness are to prevail.  Sir Wilfred Grenfell, The Adventure of Life

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to a man.  Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.  The Dalai Lama

Live and let live.  English Proverb

Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and untroubled joy.  Do not, therefore, trouble them, do not torture them, do not deprive them of their joy, do not go against God's intent.  Fyodor Mikhail Dostoyevski

Man by violating his own feelings becomes cruel. And how deeply seated in the human heart is the injunction not to take life.  Leo Tolstoy

My life is full of meaning to me.  The life around me must be full of significance to itself.  If I am to expect others to respect my life, then I must respect the other life I see.  Albert Schweitzer

Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution.  Until we stop harming all living beings, we are still savages.  Thomas A. Edison

Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough.  We have a higher mission -- to be of service to them wherever they require it.  St. Francis of Assisi

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi

The missing link between animals and a truly humane mankind is man himself, who does not yet see himself as a part of the world, claiming it instead for himself.  Dr. Michael W. Fox, One Earth, One Mind

The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Jeremy Bentham

The squirrel you kill in jest, dies in earnest.  Henry David Thoreau

The thinking person must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo.  When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another... Albert Schweitzer

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.  George Bernard Shaw, The Devil's Disciple

Animals are my friends-and I don't eat my friends.  George Bernard Shaw

There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to beasts as well as man, it is all a sham.  Anna Sewell, Black Beauty

Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.  Albert Schweitzer

Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is--whether its victim is human or animal--we cannot expect things to be much better in this world.  Rachel Carson 

We must never permit the voice of humanity within us to be silenced.  It is man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him truly a man.  Albert Schweitzer, quoted in Reverence for Life

We will never know how unique we really are until we begin to act as humanely as we are able.  Catherine Roberts

What is religion? Compassion for all things which have life. Hinduism, Mahabharata

Whosoever saves a single life is as if he had saved the whole world; whosoever destroys a single life is as if he had destroyed the whole world.  The Talmud

[I believe] that animals have a worth in and of themselves, and that they are not inferior to human beings but rather just different from us, and that they really don't exist for us nor do they belong to should not be a question of how they should be treated within the context of their usefulness, or perceived usefulness, to us, but rather whether we have a right to use them at all.  Ingrid Newkirk, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Behold, my brothers, the spring has come;
The earth has received the embraces of the sun
And we shall soon see the results of that love!

Every seed is awakened and so has all animal life.
It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being
And we therefore yield to our neighbors,
Even our animal neighbors,
The same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land. Sitting Bull

Everything we have learned about animals suggests that in terms of experiencing terror, pain, grief, anxiety and stress these sentient beings are relevantly similar to humans.  Bart Gruzalski, 'The Case Against Raising and Killing Animals for Food' in Ethics and Animals, eds. Miller and Williams

I began to realize that I was disobeying my rule of life which says: I will not ask anyone to do for me things that I would refuse to do for myself.  Now, I wouldn't kill any creature--I wouldn't even kill a chicken or a fish--and therefore I stopped immediately eating all flesh.
I have not eaten flesh for many years, not meat or fish or fowl.  I have learned since it is bad for your health, but at that time I just extended my love to include not only all my fellow human beings but also my fellow creatures, and so I stopped hurting them and I stopped eating them. Peace Pilgrim, Peace Pilgrim

Nearly all of us have a deep rooted wish for peace--peace on earth; but we shall never attain the true peace--the peace of love, and not the uneasy equilibrium of fear--until we recognize the place of animals in the scheme of things and treat them accordingly.  Lord Dowding

The  human spirit...has come to believe that compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind. ...there now stands a new ethic -- that of respect for life, whose validity is more and more widely acknowledged.  Albert Schweitzer, quoted in Reverence for Life

The friend of nature is the man who feels himself inwardly united with everything that lives in nature, who shares in the fate of all creatures, helps them when he can in their pain and need, and as far as possible avoids injuring or taking life.  Albert Schweitzer, quoted in Reverence for Life

The hope for the animals of tomorrow is to be found in a human culture which learns to feel beyond itself.  We must learn empathy, we must learn to see into the eyes of an animal and feel that its life has value because it is alive.  Nothing else will do.  Kenneth White

The point to be grasped from the saintly tradition is that to love animals is not sentimentality (as we know it) but true spirituality.  Of course there can be vain, self-seeking loving, but to go (sometimes literally) out of our way to help animals, to expend effort to secure their protection and to feel with them their suffering and to be moved by it--these are surely signs of spiritual greatness.  Reverend Dr. Andrew Linzey, Christianity and the Rights of Animals

We stopped eating meat many years ago. During the course of a Sunday lunch we happened to look out of the kitchen window at our young lambs playing happily in the fields. Glancing down at our plates, we suddenly realised we were eating the leg of an animal who had until recently been playing in a field herself. We looked at each other and said: "Wait a minute, we love these sheep-they're such gentle creatures. So why are we eating them?" It was the last time we ever did.   Paul and Linda McCartney 

With every passing year we discover more evidence to support Darwin's revolutionary hypothesis that the cognitive and emotional lives of animals differ only by degree, from the fishes to the birds to the monkeys to humans.  Roger Fouts, Ph.D., Next of Kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me About Who We Are

I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals.  Henry David Thoreau, Walden

It is the fate of every truth to be an object of ridicule when it is first acclaimed. ...But the time is coming when people will be amazed that the human race existed so long before it recognized that thoughtless injury to life is incompatible with real ethics.  Albert Schweitzer