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Favorite Quotes

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
-- Neil deGrasse Tyson

"Better a broken bone than a broken spirit."
-- Lady Allen of Hurtwood

"We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness...but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run."
-- Aldo Leopold, Thinking Like a Mountain

"If you try to eliminate all risks from your life, what you are actually doing is eliminating all possibility from your life."

"At times we seem to be documenting paths to extinction, telling ourselves that we need to do more research, developing theoretical models with insufficient consideration of their practical application, and giving each other advice on what others should be doing."
--  Whitten et al. 2008.  Conservation Biology: A displacement behavior for academia?  Cons Bio 15(1): 1-3.

"Science in and of itself will not lead inexorably toward conservation, being much like an architect who cannot realize a design without a builder.”
-- Kinnaird, M. F., and T. G. O’Brien. 2001. Who’s scratching whom? Reply to Whitten et al. Conservation Biology 15:1459–1460.

“Have we undertaken a task whose completion lies beyond the power of our science and technology? …we must give up the self-serving belief that an increase in our scientific knowledge by itself will always move us toward effective conservation.”
-- Ehrenfeld, D. 2000. War and Peace and Conservation Biology.  Cons Bio (14)1: 105-112

"Yet addressing fundamental and novel questions is not always compatible with resolving well-established conservation problems. What is interesting is not always important, and what is important is not always interesting."
-- Cook, et al.  2013. Achieving conservation science that bridges the knowledge-action boundary.  Cons Bio 27(4):669-678.

"Why are conservation researchers, who have chosen a mission-oriented career, failing to do science that contributes meaningfully toward stemming the environmental crisis? ... Ultimately, an effective conservation planner is one who links knowing and doing. Inevitably, this requires engaging people and the choices they make."
-- Knight, et al. 2008. Knowing but not doing: Selecting priority conservation areas and the research-implementation gap. Cons Bio 22(3): 610-617.

"Spend time in the offices of the people doing conservation, as opposed to writing about it, and you will not find them poring over books on conservation biology.  They are getting on with the practice of conservation, not reading about the biology of the species or ecosystems that they are trying to conserve."
-- Harcourt AH and Stewart KL. 2007. Gorilla society: conflict, compromise, and cooperation between the sexes. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

"Some ecologists find mathematics easier than useful scientific work."
-- Nelson Hairston, Sr.

"Three concepts are almost completely foreign to people who are not ecologists: (1) natural ecosystems provide services on which our economic, social, cultural, and political systems depend; (2) when these processes are altered our quality of life declines; and (3) when the processes fail life becomes very difficult or impossible. As a result of this ignorance, conservation is seen by many as a minor amenity benefiting a small cadre of birdwatchers
or backpackers that stands in the way of “progress” that benefits all."

--  Brussard and Tull.  2007.  Conservation biology and four types of advocacy.  Cons. Bio. 21(1): 21-24..

"The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us."
-- Wilson, E.O. 1984. Biophilia. 

"One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise."
-- Aldo Leopold.  The Round River: A Parable.

"The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering."
-- Aldo Leopold. Round River: From the Journals of Aldo Leopold.

 "Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons.  Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all."
-- Hardin, G. Tragedy of the commons.  Science 162 (3859):1243-1248.

"...knowing all there is to know about a lion's molecules and cells will not tell you why a lion roars."
-- Stebbins RC and NW Cohen. 1995. A Natural History of Amphibians. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

"The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt."
-- Bertrand Russell

“Only the most uncritical minds are free from doubt."
-- Aldo Leopold.  Conservation Esthetic.  

"The ordinary citizen today assumes that science knows what makes the community clock tick; the scientist is equally sure that he does not."
-- Aldo Leopold. The Land Ethic.

"Your critics are the ones telling you they still love you and care. Worry when you do something badly and nobody bothers to tell you.” 
-- Randy Pausch.  The Last Lecture.

"I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent."

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
-- Pablo Picasso

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

"You can't awaken someone who is pretending to be asleep."

"I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives, and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?"

Don't explain your philosophy. Embody it."

"...if it has to do with the things that are not up to us, be ready to reply, 'It is nothing to me.'"

"For every ailment under the sun,
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it."

-- Mother Goose. 1695.

"For every salamander in the Oaks,
Some have no name, this is no hoax;
If there be one, no need for perplexity;
If there be none, marvel at the complexity."
-- Greg Lipps (with thanks to Mother Goose).

"Some conservationists find creating new acronyms easier than useful implementation."  
-- Greg Lipps (with thanks to Nelson Hairston, Sr.)