Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time and affects every single living thing on the planet. If humankind doesn’t take dramatic action, our future looks bleak. It can be hard to find inspiration or motivation in the face of such grave odds, but here are ten climate change quotes that can help:
#1. If we pollute the air, water and soil that keep us alive and well, and destroy the biodiversity that allows natural systems to function, no amount of money will save us. – David Suzuki, Canadian academic and environmental activist
One of the main reasons why climate change has been neglected for so long is because of money. Polluting the world is simply too profitable. This quote from a leader in sustainable ecology says that if we destroy our environment, wealth will not help. We can’t buy back extinct flora and fauna, or pay droughts and massive hurricanes to go away.
#2. Twenty-five years ago, people could be excused for not knowing much, or doing much, about climate change. Today we have no excuse. — Desmond Tutu, South African cleric, theologican, and human rights activist
While in the past we were still researching the full extent of climate change and how human activities impact it, the effects are now obvious. We no longer have the privilege of claiming ignorance.
#3. Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security, and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all. – Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations who considered climate change a major issue
Climate change isn’t an isolated issue. It has a ripple effect, so if you are concerned with human rights, you should be concerned about climate change.
#4. I have long understood that climate change is not only an environmental issue – it is a humanitarian, economic, health, and justice issue as well. – Frances Beinecke, environmental activist and politician
Like quote #3, this quote from Frances Beinecke emphasizes the point that climate change is unbreakably aligned with other issues. Critics of climate change activism often say that other issues should take priority, but the reality is that they are all connected.
#5. In a few decades, the relationship between the environment, resources and conflict may seem almost as obvious as the connection we see today between human rights, democracy and peace. – Wangari Maathai, social, political, and environmental activist, and first African woman to win the Nobel Peace prize
Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan activist who passed away in 2011, would be glad to see that the world has started to make the connection she spoke of. As the alignment becomes more obvious because of tragic events and consequences, it will hopefully motivate action.
#6. Even if you never have the chance to see or touch the ocean, the ocean touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea. — Sylvia Earle, American marine biologist, author, and explorer
The world’s oceans dramatically display the effects of climate change. In Earle’s quote, the ocean is also a stand in for all of the environment and how even if you aren’t aware of how it impacts you, your life depends on it.
#7. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. – Native American Proverb
The mindset that the earth cannot “belong” to any generation is essential in the battle against climate change. When we treat the earth as something we will pass on to future generations, we will be much more careful with it.
#8. He that plants trees loves others beside himself. – Thomas Fuller, English churchman, author, and historian
This quote comes from a man who died in 1661, but his sentiment is timeless. Planting a tree – or taking action now in the fight against climate change – is not truly about making life easier for the current generation. Many actions will take time to come into full effect, and we may not see the day when that happens. However, we’re doing it for future generations.
#9. We have the capacity to create a remarkably different economy: one that can restore ecosystems and protect the environment while bringing forth innovation, prosperity, meaningful work, and true security. – Paul Hawken, author, environmental activist, and entrepreneur
Tackling climate change is an overwhelming prospect and it’s tempting to fall into discouragement. With quotes like this one from Paul Hawken, the world needs to remember that we can change old systems and adapt. Humanity can thrive without destroying the environment.
#10. The wounds we have inflicted on the earth can be healed… but if it is to be done, it must be done now. Otherwise it may never be done at all. – Jonathon Porritt, British writer and environmentalist
When it comes to climate change, “urgent” is the key descriptor. While this quote is optimistic about change in the right direction, it also emphasizes that time is of the essence. We’ve spent too long debating without real action. If we keep waiting, it may be too late.