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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index W > Category: Wilderness

Wilderness Quotes (39 quotes)


A definition is the enclosing a wilderness of idea within a wall of words.
Samuel Butler, Henry Festing Jones (ed.), The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1917), 221.
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A small cabin stands in the Glacier Peak Wilderness, about a hundred yards off a trail that crosses the Cascade Range. In midsummer, the cabin looked strange in the forest. It was only twelve feet square, but it rose fully two stories and then had a high and steeply peaked roof. From the ridge of the roof, moreover, a ten-foot pole stuck straight up. Tied to the top of the pole was a shovel. To hikers shedding their backpacks at the door of the cabin on a cold summer evening—as the five of us did—it was somewhat unnerving to look up and think of people walking around in snow perhaps thirty-five feet above, hunting for that shovel, then digging their way down to the threshold.
In Encounters with the Archdruid (1971), 3.
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An author has always great difficulty in avoiding unnecessary and tedious detail on the one hand; while, on the other, he must notice such a number of facts as may convince a student, that he is not wandering in a wilderness of crude hypotheses or unsupported assumptions.
In A Geological Manual (1832), Preface, iii.
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An ecologist is a voice crying over the wilderness.
Anonymous
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Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs,—
To the silent wilderness,
Where the soul need not repress
Its music.
Poem, 'The Invitation' (1822), collected in The Poetical Works (1844), 306.
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But as the wilderness areas are progressively exploited or “improve”, as the jeeps and bulldozers of uranium prospectors scar up the deserts and the roads are cut into the alpine timberlands, and as the remnants of the unspoiled and natural world are progressively eroded, every such loss is a little death in me. In us.
Letter (3 Dec 1960) written to David E. Pesonen of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission. Collected in 'Coda: Wilderness Letter', The Sound of Mountain Water: The Changing American West (1969), 150.
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Civilization no longer needs to open up wilderness; it needs wilderness to help open up the still largely unexplored human mind.
In The Dark Range: a Naturalist's Night Notebook (1978), 113.
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For mathematics, in a wilderness of tragedy and change, is a creature of the mind, born to the cry of humanity in search of an invariant reality, immutable in substance, unalterable with time.
In The American Mathematical Monthly (1949), 56, 19. Excerpted in John Ewing (ed,), A Century of Mathematics: Through the Eyes of the Monthly (1996), 186.
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I should like to urge some arguments for wilderness preservation that involve recreation,…. Hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain-climbing, camping, photography, and the enjoyment of natural scenery will all, surely, figure in your report. So will the wilderness as a genetic reserve, a scientific yardstick by which we may measure the world in its natural balance against the world in its man-made imbalance.
Letter (3 Dec 1960) written to David E. Pesonen of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission. Collected in 'Coda: Wilderness Letter', The Sound of Mountain Water: The Changing American West (1969), 145-146.
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I think the light of science is so dazzling that it can be evaluated only by studying its reflection from the absorbing mirror of life; and life brings one back to wildness.
In 'The Wisdom of Wilderness', Life (22 Dec 1967), 63, No. 25, 8.
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If I were entering adulthood now instead of in the environment of fifty years ago, I would choose a career that kept me in touch with nature more than science. … Too few natural areas remain; both by intent and by indifference we have insulated ourselves from the wilderness that produced us.
In 'The Wisdom of Wilderness', Life (22 Dec 1967), 63, No. 25, 10.
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If the national park idea is, as Lord Bryce suggested, the best idea America ever had, wilderness preservation is the highest refinement of that idea.
In magazine article, 'It All Began with Conservation', Smithsonian (Apr 1990), 21, No. 1, 34-43. Collected in Wallace Stegner and Page Stegner (ed.), Marking the Sparrow’s Fall: The Making of the American West (1998, 1999), 131.
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In the wilderness, people think of danger from Indians, alligators, and jaguars. They are not the things you mind. It is the mosquitoes, the poisonous ants, the maribondo wasps that are perfectly awful. It is the borrachudos and plum flies—like the black flies of the north woods, only worse … The day after I threw away my spare clothing ants ate up all my underwear. These were white ants. The driver ants try to eat the man instead of his clothes.
In National Geographic, Great Adventures with National Geographic: Exploring Land, Sea, and Sk (1963), 109. The last sentences about the white and driver ants, with slightly different wording, also appear in Theodore Roosevelt, 'A Journey in Central Brazil', The Geographical Journey (Feb 1915), 45, No. 2, 104, previously read to the Royal Geographic Society (16 Jun 1914).
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In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.
Declaring a preference for contact with nature rather than with technology. In 'The Wisdom of Wilderness', Life (22 Dec 1967), 63, No. 25, 10.
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It has never been man’s gift to make wildernesses. But he can make deserts, and has.
Last line of article, 'The War Between the Rough Riders and the Bird Watchers', Sierra Club Bulletin (May 1959). Quoted in Wallace Stegner: His Life and Work (2009), 231.
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It is a lovely and terrible wilderness, such as wilderness as Christ and the prophets went out into; harshly and beautifully colored, broken and worn until its bones are exposed, its great sky without a smudge of taint from Technocracy, and in hidden corners and pockets under its cliffs the sudden poetry of springs.
Letter (3 Dec 1960) written to David E. Pesonen of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission. Collected in 'Coda: Wilderness Letter', The Sound of Mountain Water: The Changing American West (1969), 153.
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Mathematics is not a careful march down a well-cleared highway, but a journey into a strange wilderness, where the explorers often get lost. Rigour should be a signal to the historian that the maps have been made, and the real explorers have gone elsewhere.
'Mathematics and History', Mathematical Intelligencer (1992), 4, No. 4, 10.
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Nowadays the field naturalist—who is usually at all points superior to the mere closet naturalist—follows a profession as full of hazard and interest as that of the explorer or of the big-game hunter in the remote wilderness.
African Game Trails (1910), 414-415.
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Physical investigation, more than anything besides, helps to teach us the actual value and right use of the Imagination—of that wondrous faculty, which, left to ramble uncontrolled, leads us astray into a wilderness of perplexities and errors, a land of mists and shadows; but which, properly controlled by experience and reflection, becomes the noblest attribute of man; the source of poetic genius, the instrument of discovery in Science, without the aid of which Newton would never have invented fluxions, nor Davy have decomposed the earths and alkalies, nor would Columbus have found another Continent.
Presidential Address to Anniversary meeting of the Royal Society (30 Nov 1859), Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (1860), 10, 165.
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Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.
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Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clean air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste.
Letter (3 Dec 1960) written to David E. Pesonen of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission. Collected in 'Coda: Wilderness Letter', The Sound of Mountain Water: The Changing American West (1969), 146.
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The Arctic has a call that is compelling. The distant mountains [of the Brooks Range in Alaska] make one want to go on and on over the next ridge and over the one beyond. The call is that of a wilderness known only to a few…. This last American wilderness must remain sacrosanct.
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The ecologist cannot remain a voice crying in the wilderness—if he is to be heard and understood.
In M.W. Holdgate and M.J. Woodman (eds.) The Breakdown and Restoration of Ecosystems: Proceedings of the Conference (2012), 478. This is part of a final Conclusions. Hildgate as editor summarized the remarks of Talbot and Nicholson.
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Edward Abbey quote: The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.
https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=46191&picture=rocky-desert-landscape (source)
The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.
In 'Shadows from the Big Woods', The Journey Home: Some Words in Defense of the American West (1977), 229.
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The oceans are the planet’s last great living wilderness, man’s only remaining frontier on Earth, and perhaps his last chance to prove himself as a rational species.
The Forests of the Sea
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The preservation of a few samples of undeveloped territory is one of the most clamant issues before us today. Just a few more years of hesitation and the only trace of that wilderness which has exerted such a fundamental influence in molding American character will lie in the musty pages of pioneer books. … To avoid this catastrophe demands immediate action.
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The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.
In The Dance of Life (1923), 236.
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The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. … It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wilderness lies in wait.
In Orthodoxy (1908), 148.
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The swift metamorphosis and the onward march of civilization, sweeping ever westward and transforming and taming our wilderness, fills us with a strange regret, and we rejoice that parts of that wilderness will yet remain to us unchanged
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The unquiet republic of the maze
Of Planets, struggling fierce towards heaven's free wilderness.
Prometheus Unbound (1820). In Carl Sagan, Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (1979, 1986), 240.
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There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.
African Game Trails (1910), ix. This is one of the quotations inscribed in the Roosevelt Memorial rotunda at the American Museum of Natural History.
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There is probably no other science which presents such different appearances to one who cultivates it and to one who does not, as mathematics. To this person it is ancient, venerable, and complete; a body of dry, irrefutable, unambiguous reasoning. To the mathematician, on the other hand, his science is yet in the purple bloom of vigorous youth, everywhere stretching out after the “attainable but unattained” and full of the excitement of nascent thoughts; its logic is beset with ambiguities, and its analytic processes, like Bunyan’s road, have a quagmire on one side and a deep ditch on the other and branch off into innumerable by-paths that end in a wilderness.
In 'The Theory of Transformation Groups', (A review of Erster Abschnitt, Theorie der Transformationsgruppen (1888)), Bulletin New York Mathematical Society (1893), 2 (First series), 61.
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These are some of the things wilderness can do for us. That is the reason we need to put into effect, for its preservation, some other principle that the principles of exploitation or “usefulness” or even recreation. We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.
Letter (3 Dec 1960) written to David E. Pesonen of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission. Collected in 'Coda: Wilderness Letter', The Sound of Mountain Water: The Changing American West (1969), 153.
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We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.
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What would the world be, once bereft
Of Wet and Wilderness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wilderness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
'Inversnaid' (1881), reprinted in Gerard Manley Hopkins and Michael White (ed.) Some Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, (1945), 16, stanza 4.
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When I first ventured into the Gulf of Mexico in the 1950s, the sea appeared to be a blue infinity too large, too wild to be harmed by anything that people could do. I explored powder white beaches, dense marshes, mangrove forests, and miles of sea grass meadows alive with pink sea urchins, tiny shrimps, and seahorses half the size of my little finger. … Then, in mere decades, not millennia, the blue wilderness of my childhood disappeared: biologic change in the space of a lifetime.
From 'My Blue Wilderness', National Geographic Magazine (Oct 2010), 76.
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When we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to everything else in the universe ... The whole wilderness is unity and interrelation, is alive and familiar, full of humanity. The very stones seem talkative, sympathetic, brotherly.
John Muir
In My First Summer in the Sierra (1911), 211 and 319. Based on Muir's original journals and sketches of his 1869 stay in the Sierra.
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Wilderness is an anchor to windward. Knowing it is there, we can also know that we are still a rich nation, tending our resources as we should—not a people in despair searching every last nook and cranny of our land for a board of lumber, a barrel of oil, a blade of grass, or a tank of water.
…...
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Without any remaining wilderness we are committed wholly, without chance for even momentary reflection and rest, to a headlong drive into our technological termite-life, the Brave New World of a completely man-controlled environment. We need wilderness preserved—as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds—because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed.
Letter (3 Dec 1960) written to David E. Pesonen of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission. Collected in 'Coda: Wilderness Letter', The Sound of Mountain Water: The Changing American West (1969), 147.
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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