Favourite Quotes (Nature, Species, Science etc.)

From Evolution, by Brian and Deborah Charlesworth…

‘An understanding of evolution can teach us our true place in nature, as part of the immense array of living forms which the impersonal forces of evolution have produced.’

‘Natural selection cannot foresee the future, and merely accumulates variants that are favourable under prevailing conditions. Increased complexity may often provide better functioning, as in the case of eyes, and will then be selected for. If the function is no longer relevant to fitness, it is not surprising that the structure concerned will degenerate.’

‘The study of evolution has revealed our intimate connections with the other species that inhabit the Earth; if global catastrophe is to be avoided, the connections are to be respected’…[Evolution] ‘provides a set of unifying principles for the whole of biology; it also illuminates the relation of human beings to the universe and to each other.’

‘The combined effects of mutation, natural selection and the random process of genetic drift cause changes in the composition of a population.’

‘Some would regard language ability as the strongest criterion for the possession of true consciousness; [but] there are clear indications of rudimentary language abilities in animals such as parrots and chimpanzees, who can be taught to communicate simple pieces of information. The gap between ourselves and higher animals is more apparent than real.’

‘The wise application of scientific understanding of the world in which we live is the only hope for the future of mankind.’

From The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond…

‘Like all species, we depend on other species for our existence, in many ways. Some of the most obvious ways are that other species produce the oxygen we breathe, absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale, decompose our sewage, provide our food, maintain the fertility of our soil, and provide our wood and paper.’

[Hunter-gatherers] practised the most successful and long-persistent lifestyle in the career of our species.’

‘In reality, vanishingly few animals on Earth have bothered with much of either intelligence or dexterity. No animal has acquired remotely as much of either as have we… and the only other species to acquire a little of both (common and pygmy chimpanzees) have been rather unsuccessful.’

‘I do not suggest that the Great Leap Forward began as soon as the mutations for altered tongue and larynx arose… But if the missing ingredient did consist of changes in our vocal tract that permitted fine control of sounds, then the capacity for innovation would follow eventually. It was the spoken word that made us free.’

‘While courses in the history of civilisation often dwell on Kings and barbarian invasions, deforestation and erosion may in the long run have been more important shapers of human history.’

‘What has to be remembered is that it has always been hard for humans to know the rate at which they can safely harvest biological resources indefinitely, without depleting them. A significant decline in resources may not be easy to distinguish from a normal year-to-year fluctuation. It is even harder to assess the rate at which new resources are being produced. By the time that the signs of decline are clear enough to convince everybody, it may be too late to save the species or habitat. Thus, pre-industrial peoples who could not sustain their resources were guilty not of moral sins, but of failures to solve a really difficult ecological problem.’

‘What woodpecker birds teach us about flying saucers is that we are unlikely ever to see one. [Convergent evolution] For practical purposes, we are unique and alone in a crowded universe. Thank God!’


‘As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.’ – Darwin, On the Origin of Species

Genes: ‘they are just chunks of software than can run on any system. They use the same code and do the same jobs.. they are recipes for both anatomy and behavior.’ (Ridley)

‘The history of man, therefore, is but a short ripple in the ocean of time.’ – Hermann von Helmholtz, 1854

‘Group versus individual thinking: difficult to assess. An individual is a product of a group.’ (D.Wilson)

‘I am a hungry world… A world full of energy, flowing… the flow from sunlight, into green plants… dispersing… taken in through herbivores and sometimes through carnivores… passing away to the decomposers in the soil… I am a gentle ocean wave sweeping toward landfall. I am beautiful, profound and I am inexorable…’ (from Fountellion in the Spiral).

‘…Unfortunately, the greatest possible success for science could be the worst-case scenario for society. If the technology lives up to its promises, if human effort is replaced once and for all, if our life can be spent persuing art, literature and video games, if danger has to be artificially created to give us thrills, then human nature changes. But human meaning is produced by human effort and we may be deprived of the life we need to live.’ (James Bruges, from The little earth book)



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The classic eco-film on Youtube

Play the first ‘Green Game’: a VR, evolving simulation of Nature…

Free Mellow Guitar songs on

Personal (Free!) Mellow Guitar songs on



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