Climate change, at times, can feel like a distant thought.
We’re so busy with our day-to-day lives that we forget the imminent threat that climate change poses to our communities. What’s in front of us tends to be more important than what’s coming for us.
It’s only when we see news of wildfires raging through forests and hurricanes destroying coastal cities that we take notice. But often, by then, the damage is done. We’re usually left scrambling back to square one to figure out what we as individuals can do to fight climate change.
If you’re not sure where to start, we’re here to help. Saving the planet from climate change is a collective effort that can only succeed if everyone joins in.
Our team at Aspiration has put together 10 climate change quotes that will turn you, and everyone you know, into a climate change activist. Since 2013, our climate-friendly neobank has been helping customers do good for the planet with each transaction they make.
Here are 10 quotes about climate change that will inspire your activism.
“Our planet is headed for disaster. We need to learn how to work with nature rather than against nature. And I’m going to tell you how.”
There’s no better person to alert us to the dangers of climate change than David Attenborough. In his 2020 Netflix documentary, “A Life on Our Planet”, the world-famous British natural historian issued this urgent call to action to highlight the damage that humans have done to the planet.
Mr. Attenborough has seen the effects of climate change with his own eyes. For the last 50-odd years, he has filmed over 100 nature documentaries that have inspired thousands of environmentalists.
Now, at the age of 94, he is urging everyone to see the planet as a system that cannot be overexploited. A small change in one part of the world, like the melting of polar ice caps, can tip the system off-balance and lead to problems like rising sea levels. He encourages us to work with nature and look for sustainable, eco-friendly solutions that will allow ecosystems enough time to recover so balance can be restored.
“The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have the facts and solutions. All we have to do is wake up and change.”
At her 2019 TED talk in Stockholm, climate activist Greta Thunberg shared this obvious, but little-known, fact. She was frustrated that the Swedish government wasn’t doing enough to prevent climate change and protect her, and other youth, from the devastating impact of environmental destruction.
Her passionate call to action was heard around the world. It inspired many young people to organize climate protests in their own countries. Their request was simple: countries need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so today’s youth can have a future.
Since the TED talk, Ms. Thunberg has spoken at many more global conferences. She has been recognized for her climate leadership and no-excuses approach to climate change.
“This is not about the environment, it’s about the community, it’s about jobs, it’s about justice.”
People often forget that climate change has a negative, and increasingly deadly, impact on human lives. In the film “Disruption”, which follows the organizers of the 2014 People’s Climate March, this is a point that’s continuously driven home.
Eddie Bautista, the executive director for the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance and one of the lead organizers of the march, encapsulated the mood of the film with his quote above. To him, climate change is not just about environmental destruction. It’s about the future of a community because climate change impacts people disproportionately.
Lower-income families are more likely to feel the impacts of climate change because they do not have enough energy security or live in areas with high pollution. To fight against climate change is to prioritize the health of the most vulnerable communities first.
“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind, and tide.” “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
Before there was Elon Musk, there was Thomas Edison. The world-famous inventor was said to have spoken these words to his friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone during a get-together in 1931, just before he died.
Mr. Edison was a firm believer in the power of electric batteries and made it his lifelong mission to develop renewable energy power systems. He was so convinced of its power that he built a self-sufficient house called the Twentieth Century Suburban Residence to showcase its potential.
The house was designed to rely only on a gas-run motor and battery cells. He thought of replacing the gas-run motor with a wind turbine later on but unfortunately didn’t get around to doing it. Mr. Edison thought that fossil fuels would destroy nature so he deliberately made sure the house could run on renewable energy.
For anyone who wants to switch their home to a solar power system or clean energy supply, just know that you’ll be following in the footsteps of Thomas Edison.
“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”
This wry quote comes from the writer and environmental journalist Michael Pollan. In his book, “Food Rules”, the quote above is included as Rule #19 to encourage people to eat cleaner, more environmentally-friendly food.
Mr. Pollan is trying to help more Americans eat sustainably. Right now, many Americans eat highly processed foods and meats that are high in sugar, fat, and salt. They end up with debilitating diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Mr. Pollan argues that if more Americans changed their diets to plant-based meals, they could help prevent deforestation, soil degradation, and greenhouse gas emissions caused by cattle farming and industrial agriculture.
It’s advice that reminds us that climate activism doesn’t have to be big. Eating healthily can be actioned by anyone, anywhere. Just listen to Mr. Pollan’s other piece of advice and you’ll know how simple it can be: “Eat food, not much, mostly plants.”.
“You can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet or a relatively healthy planet – but now that we know the numbers, it looks like you can’t have both.”
A healthy planet can’t be traded for a healthy fossil fuel company, so argues Bill McKibben, co-founder of the global grassroots climate change organization 350.org, in this Rolling Stone article.
Mr. McKibben has led hundreds of climate change campaigns and marches since the 90s and is a formidable force in the climate change movement. He dissects the economics of climate change to challenge the arguments put forth by oil companies about how important fossil fuels are for our future.
As this quote shows, continued fossil fuel extraction will rid us of a decent future on this planet. Oil companies at the moment rely on carbon reserves that will produce about 2,795 gigatons of carbon emissions, which are worth about $20 million.
If 80% of these reserves are kept in the earth, as climate scientists urge we should, we would save the planet from destruction. But oil executives are against the idea and they’re doing everything they can to plow ahead.
It’s up to us to pressure our governments to not bow to this.
“People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustices of climate change.”
In this quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, we can’t help but notice the moral imperative that’s being put forward.
Archbishop Tutu, one of the most respected religious leaders of our time, equates fossil fuel banks and corporations with the apartheid-era government of South Africa. These companies do not care about the injustices being created by their products and services. People are losing their homes and families to climate change, and nothing is being done about it.
To break this chain, Archbishop Tutu calls on people to boycott events sponsored by fossil fuel companies, cut their support for companies affiliated with climate destruction, and speak out against the injustices.
Only by staging a boycott against these companies, as he did during his non-violent fight against apartheid in South Africa, will we be able to reduce the political clout of the fossil fuel industry.
“God gave us the earth “to till and to keep” (Gen 2:15) in a balanced and respectful way. To till too much, to keep too little, is to sin.”
No matter what your religion may be, this quote from Pope Francis’s 2016 annual World Day prayer sums up the importance of sustainable living.
The Pope was sending a clear message to his more than 1.3 billion followers about the dangers of environmental destruction. Before our economies became industrialized, we lived in a balanced way with nature and used only what we needed.
Now we take what we want and don’t give back. We’ve ended up polluting our oceans and stripping the earth of its wetlands and natural forests. The Pope’s message is a reminder about how things were before we became so careless – and that’s something all of us need to get back on track with our eco-friendly habits.
“We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to.”
This quote from Terri Swearnigen’s Goldman Environmental Prize speech is another reminder that everyone needs to get involved in the fight against climate change to protect the only home we have.
Ms. Swearnigen is a climate activist who fought the construction of the Waste Technologies Industries (WTI) hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio in the early 90s. The incinerator was set to open just 1,100 feet away from an elementary school, and she risked everything to make sure it wouldn’t open.
She overcame all sorts of bureaucratic hurdles, from Vice President’s broken promises to close the incinerator to pushback from WTI executives. Her story shows us that with enough conviction and courage, we can work together to protect our environment.
“We’re dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate the Earth hasn’t seen since the great climate catastrophes of the past, the ones that led to mass extinctions. We just can’t seem to break our addiction to the kinds of fuel that will bring back a climate last seen by the dinosaurs, a climate that will drown our coastal cities and wreak havoc on the environment and our ability to feed ourselves.”
Everyone’s favourite astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, couldn’t have sent a clearer message than this one from his series, “Cosmos”. It’s one of the simplest, and most effective, explanations about climate change to ever be broadcasted on national television.
His quote helped change the mind of climate deniers and put science back in the conversation about climate change. It made climate change less a debate among elites and more of an everyday issue for all Americans.
Whenever you need some inspiration to do something climate-friendly, just read this quote and you’ll know that nothing’s more important than taking action for the future of our planet.
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