Quotes from Gaylord Nelson

Nelson in the Apostle Islands, Wisconsin

Gaylord Nelson, Governor and U.S. Congressman from Wisconsin, gave thousands of speeches during his career to encourage political and social action on the environment, to protect places such as the Apostle Islands (shown in photo), and to help citizens feel empowered to make changes in their own local environments.

"Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures." Gaylord Nelson Read more from the source document

"The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity... that's all there is. That's the whole economy. That's where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world." Gaylord Nelson Read more from the source document

"To those who would neglect our schools, our colleges, and public welfare activities and institutions, our highways and conservation resources, I say this—we spend more money on cigarettes, liquor, cosmetics and other luxuries than the total cost of our state government." Gaylord Nelson Read more from the source document

"Some people who talk about the environment talk about it as though it involved only a question of clean air and clean water. The environment involves the whole broad spectrum of man's relationship to all other living creatures, including other human beings. It involves the environment in its broadest and deepest sense. It involves the environment of the ghetto which is the worst environment, where the worst pollution, the worst noise, the worst housing, the worst situation in this country -- that has to be a critical part of our concern and consideration in talking and cleaning up the environment." Gaylord Nelson Read more from the source document

"Earth Day achieved what I had hoped for and then some. The purpose of Earth Day was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy and, finally, force this issue permanently into the political arena. Having criss-crossed the nation speaking on environmental issues during the previous eight or nine years it was dear to me that the public was far ahead of the politicians and given an opportunity they would demonstrate their interest. It was a gamble but it worked. It got the attention of the politicians. An estimated twenty million people participated in peaceful demonstrations all across the country. Ten thousand schools, two thousand colleges and one thousand communities were involved.

It was truly an astonishing grassroots explosion. For the first time people were given the opportunity to demonstrate their deep concern about what was happening in their own communities and across the nation--polluted air, rivers, lakes and oceans; health threatening hazardous wastes; urban blight; pesticide and herbicide poisoning of people, plants, birds and animals; the destruction of scenic beauty and wildlife habitats. All of this swirling around them and the politicians didn't seem to know, understand or care. But the people cared and Earth Day became the first opportunity they ever had to join in a nationwide demonstration to send a big message to the politicians--a message to tell them to wake up and do something." Gaylord Nelson Read more from the source document

"It's not just a fight for clean air, but a fight for everyone in this country to live in a personal environment in which he can live like a human being." Mary Lou Oates, 1970. Read more from the source document

"I recall...a frozen lemon cream pie on the market which was found to be nothing but a combination of chemicals. The pie actually had no lemon in it, or any cream or even any flour. When food contains no food, that is certainly time for action." Gaylord Nelson. Read more from the source document

"How could we organize to win a big war, create the nuclear weapons system and rocket to the moon — And still fall so far short of our historic goal: The creation of a social structure founded on quality instead of quantity and moral might instead of military might?" Gaylord Nelson Read more from the source document

"Reaching a general understanding that sustainability is the ultimate issue will finally bring us face-to-face with the political challenge of forging a sustainable society during the next few decades. It is a challenge we can meet if we have the leadership and the political will to do so." Gaylord Nelson Read more from the source document

"We declare that the proper use of science is not to conquer nature but to live in it." Barry Commoner, 1970 Read more from the source document

"Our belief after the war was that within twenty years, people who had grown up with the bomb and the possibility of total destruction would be asking the questions and setting in motion the necessary changes to save our society. This has happened." Margaret Mead, 1967 Read more from the source document

"There is a great need, and growing support, for the introduction of new values in our society—where bigger is not necessarily better—where slower can be faster—and where less can be more." Gaylord Nelson, 1970 Read more from the source document

"There was so much interest at the local level all over the country that we saw we wouldn't have needed to anything other than to make the announcement and name the day." Gaylord Nelson, 1970 Read more from the source document

"The fault lies not in the science and technology as such but in the sense of values of the contemporary world which ignores the rights of others." Indira Gandhi, 1972 Read more from the source document