10 Environmental Quotes You Won’t Believe Were Said

Freedom of speech is possibly one of the greatest civil liberties ever granted. It allows us to form opinions, openly question ideas, and in some cases overhear the most ridiculous statements. As people continue to say shockingly foolish things, I like to make note, and later go back and laugh. So, here is a collection of some insanely irrational quotes said in real life, by real people.


1. “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.”Ronald Reagan

I’m not quite sure exactly what sort of pollution he thinks trees produce, but maybe he hates raking and considers falling leaves litter? Ronald really should have just said no to commenting on the environment.


2. “A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.”Sarah Palin

Oh Sarah, you just make it too easy. While Alaska certainly will be affected by climate change, all 50 states will be greatly affected in some capacity. Eastern coastal states will likely be flooded, California is in danger of severe droughts, and central states can expect more damaging tornadoes. On top of that, almost all evidence points to human actions as the cause.


3. “We’re seeing the reality of a lot of the North Pole starting to evaporate, and we could get to a tipping point. Because if it evaporates to a certain point — they have lanes now where ships can go that couldn’t ever sail through before. And if it gets to a point where it evaporates too much, there’s a lot of tundra that’s being held down by that ice cap.”Henry Waxman

Way to try to find a positive spin Henry, but unfortunately some of these “new lanes” will be where people’s houses, national monuments, and many cities are located. I bet he’s the kind of guy who thinks hurricanes are fun, because you get to ride in a boat when evacuating.


4. “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.” Michelle Bachmann

I can’t even dignify this statement with a response.


 5. “The whole [global warming] thing is created to destroy America’s free enterprise system and our economic stability.”Jerry Falwell

Yes Jerry, that’s it. The housing crisis, the increase in jobless claims, and the economic recession were just because of false environmental disaster studies.


 6. “Obviously, nu-que-lar power is, uh, a renewable source of energy, and the less demand there is for non-renewable sources of energy, like fossil fuels, the better it off it is for the American people.”George W. Bush

Where do I start? First, why didn’t anyone in his administration explain to George how to say “nuclear?” Second, nuclear is not better for the American people. We all saw what happened to Japan’s nuclear power plant in Fukushima. Apparently George doesn’t quite understand the concept of radiation.


7. “It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”Dan Quayle

I wonder what Dan thinks is causing the impurities and our air and water, perhaps pollution?


8. “We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?”Dana Rohrabacher

What, you’ve never heard of the “big break wind theory?”


9. “[Oil spills] can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies. Spill response and clean-up creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and clean-up service providers.”- Kinder Morgan Oil Company

Once again, someone looking at the positive side of a very negative situation. I don’t think the oil company cares to recognize how many people were forced out of work due to spill damages.


Finally, the pinnacle of all absurdity:

10. “Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can’t transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It’s just something to think about.” -  Joe Barton


Now that you’ve finished, let’s be thankful for the right to speak freely. Without this right, we could never be amused by the outlandish things our fellow earth dwellers say!


Can’t get enough outrageous quotes? Check out 10 MORE Environmental Quotes You Won’t Believe Were Said.

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  • Mike

    By your logic on nuclear power, we should not be driving automobiles or riding in airplanes. Over 30,000 people die from motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. each year. From 2000 to 2009 over 12,000 people died from plane crashes. The U.S. Navy Nuclear program has not had a single nuclear-related fatality in over 50 years. Obviously, there are risks associated with any technology that benefits mankind.

    • Emily Neimanis

      Mike, you’re correct, there are instances of risks in other arenas, but if we can replace nuclear with renewable sources that pose significantly lower threats, while producing as much power, there is no need to expand nuclear energy. The point is that there are other safer options that are better for the American people than nuclear power.

      • Max

        Nuclear power needs to be part of the energy mix as it is far cleaner than any fossil fuel. Renewable sources can’t do it on their own. They remain intermittent sources and therefore cannot be relied upon as ‘dispatch-able’ generation for baseload.

      • John

        Hopefully you have a lot of money to pay the increased price of electricity. And I presume you already have a fossil fueled stand by generator for use when renewables fail for lack of wind and sunshine.
        Best Wishes!

        • Emily Neimanis

          Actually home solar panels make my electric bills significantly cheaper, and in some cases I can make money off of them by selling energy back to the grid. I have yet to find anyone I know personally whose electric prices have increased by switching to renewable energy.

      • Mike

        According to the DOE Energy Information Administration (EIA), the overnight cost ($/kW capacity) for fuel cells at utility scale is much higher than nuclear and offshore wind is only slightly less. Assuming different life expectancies, I calculated the cost of energy as well ($/kWh).
        Even though nuclear is more expensive to build than PV solar, the cost of electricity is much cheaper because a nuclear plant produces for twice as long. You would have to build two PV solar plants to match the lifetime of one nuclear plant.

        Advanced Nuclear $4,700/kW 32 yrs $0.019/kWh
        Wind – offshore $4,452/kW 15 years $0.034/kWh
        PV Solar $3,624/kW 15 years $0.027/kWh
        Fuel cells $6,045/kW 15 years $0.048/kWh
        Pulverized Coal with
        carbon sequestration $4,662 25 yrs $0.026/kWh

        Source: EIA’s 2012 National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) Electricity Market Module (EMM) report on the Cost and Performance Characteristics of New Central Station Electricity Generating Technologies.

    • Krist Martin

      Well to be fair, globally, the rate of deaths related to nuclear waste is rather high, but often overlooked.

      The CDC rated nuclear waste as the 56th worst killer in the world, not because of its direct impact, but because of the indirect impact. Where there are maybe 30k people who die in car accidents each year in the US (around 400k each year world wide in countries that report this information to WHO) and around 600 deaths annually in plane crashes (excluding the Asian airlines which seem to be having an off year…) the number of people who die from nuclear waste related illnesses is estimated at 600k-800k a year worldwide. Everything from radiation poisoning and cancer, to birth defects and nuclear fallout from deteriorating nuclear power plants that are falling apart or those hit by natural disasters, the death toll is pretty high.

      But rarely are these deaths directly tied to nuclear waste and proximity to nuclear power plants and fallout zones. This is because illnesses that lead to death that are caused by radiation can be subtle, go unexplained, or are attributed to other factors. Often deaths due to radiation occur in countries where nuclear waste was dumped and the country is too poor to clean it up. Many of these countries were once part of the USSR and are currently seeking aide in cleanup efforts. In other cases it is countries like North Korea that are developing nuclear weapons but doing so in secret and without the proper technology to protect their people.

      That said, new nuclear power plants are far safer than the 1950s style plants which are iconic and common worldwide. Nuclear plants can now recharge spent fuel rods rather than wasting them reducing over all waste. Several of the modern designs being supported by the US are smaller and more efficient power plants that require fewer resources and a smaller physical footprint. If implemented they could solve our power needs if used in conjunction with solar and wind.

  • Jessica Kennedy

    Not to be forgotten:
    “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.”

  • http://www.fusfeldgroup.com Charles Scouten

    Not sure who Kinder Morgan Oil Comopany is. As I recall, comment is extracted from a 15,000-page regulatory filing by Kinder Morgan Canada. Comment quoted in the April 30 Vancouver Sun includes, “While we are required by the National Energy Board to explore both the positive and negative socio-economic effects of a spill, it in no way means we accept the inevitability of a spill, nor justify one.” Not exactly the kind of irresponsible attitude the cited quote implies.

    • Jessica Kennedy

      The Kinder Morgan quote is taken out of the context of the original 15,000 page paper – that’s true. But in what context, ever, is there a positive spin to an oil spill? That’s just ludicrous.


    Great Collection!

  • Jim Nail

    Come on. You couldn’t find one equally absurd comment by Al Gore? There has been plenty of extremism on both sides of the issue.

    • Emily Neimanis

      Jim, you’re right there is definitely extremism on both sides. Al Gore after all is the guy who once said, “A zebra does not change its spots.” Most of the absurd and silly quotes I found from democrats were not about the environment, but this compilation is to simply make us smile, not get into a political dispute.

    • Krist Martin

      The only extremism on the left’s part is one of pointing to the worst case scenario. Which is admitted by the left. Al Gore has made few off base comments when it comes to global climate change and most of those are at least reasonably explainable.

      Unlike the blatant science denialism of the right.

  • S.C. Schwarz

    Actually, Reagan’s quote about trees causing pollution is true. The kind of pollution trees, and other plants, emit is called volatile organic compounds or VOC. VOC are harmful in themselves and are also an important smog precursor. Here is a reference from the USEPA:


    I’ll quote the relevant paragraph:

    “This indicator focuses on trends in VOC emissions from anthropogenic sources. However, VOC emissions from biogenic sources
    were estimated for 2005 to provide a sense of the relative contributions of natural versus anthropogenic emissions. Nationally,
    biogenic emissions were estimated to contribute approximately 74 percent to VOC emissions from all sources during 2005 (Exhibit
    2-11, panel B). Thus, VOC emissions from biogenic sources are larger than the VOC emissions from all anthropogenic sources

    • Jessica Kennedy

      Mr. Schwartz,
      Reagan’s quote is way off-base. Yes, trees and all plants emit VOCs – but it is important to understand what VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, actually are.
      A VOC is ANY organic (carbon based) chemical that will evaporate (or sublimate – which means transitioning from solid directly to gas) at low temperatures (room temperature/ambient air temperature). These are not all harmful chemicals.
      VOCs emitted by vegetation include chemicals used to communicate between plants (i.e. a tree will emit a certian chemical if it experiences an insect infestation – this will cause surrounding trees to increase production of their natural insect-repelling chemicals. Nicotine is actually an example of such a chemical).
      Other vegetative VOCs contribute to carbon cycles in plants. It is industrial processing by humans that release similar chemicals in amounts that stress the environment. Not trees.

      • S.C. Schwarz

        Ms. Kennedy:

        I’m not sure I understand your argument.

        Are you saying that there are good VOCs and bad VOCs and that VOCs from anthropogenic sources are bad while VOCs from “natural” sources are good? But certainly isoprene, to take one example, is isoprene, whether it comes from an industrial process or from a tree. And isoprene is a smog precursor, witness the Blue Ridge Mountains in West Virginia, which are blue because of the characteristic haze (smog) caused by the isoprene emitted by the pine trees in the area. And there are similar “blue” mountains all over the world.

        Or are you saying that it’s the amounts of VOCs emitted by industrial processes that, as you put it, “stress the environment” while the lessor amounts emitted naturally do not? But that doesn’t make sense either as the amounts of VOCs emitted naturally dwarf the amounts emitted by anthropogenic sources.

        Have I missed your point? Perhaps you could clarify.

        Thank you.

        • S.C. Schwarz

          Note that after six months Ms. Kennedy has chosen not to reply. And this is particularly relevant because the Obama EPA is about to lower the NAAQS for ground level ozone from 75 to 65 ppb. Since VOCs contribute to ozone formation, and since the large majority of VOCs are natural in origin hence uncontrollable, these standards may be impossible to meet in some parts of the country.

          • http://www.yourenergyblog.com/ Jessica Kennedy

            I’m happy to clarify my position, and I do apologize for neglecting to reply – the oversight was not intentional.
            My point that Reagan’s quote is completely off-target, is that there is no way to attribute more pollution to trees than the over 1 billion cars on the road. If you look at VOCs alone, the net amount emitted by vehicles is less than that attributed to vegetation. I don’t argue that point, but I can’t conceed that the statement “trees cause more pollution than automobiles” is accurate in any context.
            Citing the VOC emisions of vegetation versus antrhorpogenic emissions as evidence of tree-pollution is shortsighted and dodges the bigger picture. We know ozone is unhealthy, and in the right conditions forests will create smog, as they do in the Great Smoky Mountains & other “smoggy” forests, but focusing on only that factor is arguing in a vaccuum. We can’t ignore the rest of the chemical reactions taking place in our atmosphere.
            For one thing, it’s in places of large amounts of human emissions that we see the worst smog (the smog that “stresses the environment). China is dealing with this problem in its cities right now, and there are not nearly as many trees in Beijing as there are in the Smokies, but the smog is far worse.
            We need to understand the role of vegetation as carbon sinks, flood control, heat control, and absorbers of other pollutants including ozone.
            The NET effect of trees on air quality is positive, and not all tree species even produce more ozone than they absorb.

            The issue also goes hand-in-hand with climate change. As temperatures warm, conditions favor trees that produce more ozone, but we know carbon emissions are the culprit of climate change, not trees. Scientific consensus is at 97% on that fact, so I don’t need to argue that point. The Clean Air Act standars are achievable because it is in places with high population density and industry that need to reduce pollution, there aren’t enough trees in these areas to have much effect on those levels.

          • S.C. Schwarz

            Ms. Kennedy,

            Thank you for your response. Indeed, as you say, automobiles are a primary source of anthropogenic ozone precursors. Nevertheless, anthropogenic sources are dwarfed by natural sources. This is well established in the literature and even acknowledged on the USEPA’s own web site, as my earlier reference shows. As further substantiation permit me to quote from the World Bank’s Pollution Prevention and Abatement Handbook:

            “Both natural and anthropogenic sources contribute
            to the emission of ground-level ozone precursors,
            and the composition of emissions sources
            may show large variations across locations. VOCs
            occurring naturally due to emissions from trees and
            plants may account for as much as two thirds of
            ambient VOCs in some locations (USEPA 1986).
            Anaerobic biological processes, lightning, and volcanic
            activity are the main natural contributors
            to atmospheric NOx, occasionally accounting for
            as much as 90% of all NOx emissions (Godish

            You may find this reference at http://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/dd7c9800488553e0b0b4f26a6515bb18/HandbookGroundLevelOzone.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

            Since up to 2/3 of VOCs, and up to 90% of NOx, are natural in origin, even if we banned every car and every factory, indeed even if we completely ceased all human activity in North America, the bulk of the ozone precursors would remain. This tells us that there a sharp diminishing returns curve as we begin to approach very low levels. I fear that, if the 60 ppb level advocated by some environmental groups is implemented, we will have reached or even crossed that point in some parts of the country, particularly the southeast.

          • http://www.yourenergyblog.com/ Jessica Kennedy

            Hi Mr. Schwartz,

            First and foremost I’d like to tell you I’m really enjoying
            our exchange. You’re well informed on the topic and I’m learning quite a bit,
            so thank you!

            I’ll directly address your point on the EPA’s ozone restrictions.
            Looking at the data, I feel comfortable saying the United States can meet the proposed level of 65 – 70 ppb. Lower levels of ground-level ozone restrictions are already in place in Canada (63ppb) and Europe (61ppb). Ambient ozone concentrations are constantly changing with temperatures and geography. The Southeast may be more prone to higher concentrations, but the goal is still not unreasonable. If pollution is reduced as it should be. Power plants and industry in the area will simply need to act to comply with the law.
            The country’s ozone pollution has already declined since the 80’s due to better pollution control. The rule will be targeting transportation, power plants and industrial polluters, and if they comply, the goal can be met without regard to natural VOC emitters. The manufacturing industry isn’t happy about it, because it will be expensive to implement, but the positive effect on human welfare is far more valuable.
            We already see this happening in other industrialized nations. We’re actually behind the curve on this. If Canada can regulate its emissions with the lush vegetation it has, then the US should be able to meet the same goals.
            So back to Reagan’s comment – trees do not “pollute” – they emit chemicals that react in the atmosphere and produce what we might call toxins, but given only natural levels, these chemicals wouldn’t be a major cause of harm to life (including plants – they often suffer injury from high levels of ozone).

            More recent research, and the environmental commitments, of other nations is showing us this is possible. I found this 2009 paper particularly interesting http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.02859.x/full
            It also acknowledges the importance of vegetative VOCs as means of plant “communication,” since they serve such a purpose I wouldn’t call them a pollutant per se, the chemicals are necessary for many plants to survive.

  • Effrin

    Ice caps are expanding, temperature is going down, your are part of an enviro relgion, there is no fact based climate warming. You can’t use the term climate change, it is irrelevant, of course the weather is weather it is always changing. You have been deceived to believe the climate warming myth. Volcanic eruptions dwarf any affect humans have on climate.

    • http://enria.org/ Freemon Sandlewould

      Is true. You have them pegged.

    • Krist Martin

      Ice caps are expanding, but average global temps are rising. Ice caps expand as water expands and the ice crystal formation becomes loser as water becomes more energetic. Expanding antarctic ice is a sign of global warming and global climate change, not the other way around.

      Weather isn’t climate as a whole. Weather is a small part of climate. The climate of the global ecological system is symbiotic and not regionally defined or independent. The weather in one region doesn’t prove or disprove expressly global climate change. What does prove global climate change is the myriad of readings we’ve been taking for over three decades now which shows a trend of global average temperature rising and a rapid increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Calling facts the “enviro religion” is bullshit. Claiming that global climate change which is supported by hundreds of studies by different scientists in different fields a deception, is bullshit.

    • Randall Greene

      No, ice caps are NOT expanding. In fact, ice caps are getting thinner and thinner, some uneducated people see more sea ice because all the fresh water from the ice caps freeze faster than open ocean water but all due to the caps melting. http://www.skepticalscience.com/

    • Chris Foley

      Just because the earth’s climate is always naturally changing , that does not preclude our ability as 7,000,000,000 humans, burning 500,000,000 gallons of oil EVERY DAY , to inflict serious and self detrimental change upon that natural change. Why would you even think ,that with scale on which humans have changed the earth already , we can do so with zero effect on our closed system environment. Your assumption of zero man induced climate change makes zero sense.

  • John Robinson

    The earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old, and that is how long the climate has been changing. Getting colder now:


    The views expressed on this forum are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer.

    • Krist Martin

      1) The Telegraph is a joke and not a valid source of information.
      2)The climate has been changing for that long, no one denies this fact. However, these changes are gradual taking tens of thousands of years to go through one cycle of heating and cooling. This cycle is defined by the orbit of the sun which reaches a summer and winter apex every six to eight thousand years. The winter apex is when the summer for the northern hemisphere occurs at the furthest orbital distance from the sun and the summer apex occurs when the northern hemisphere summer occurs when we are closest to the sun.

      The orbital location which changes and cycles every 10-16 thousand years affects the amount of energy absorbed by the environment and the amount of radiation the Earth encounters. (Orbital season is a metaphor here, do not confuse it for the normal seasons caused by the tilt of the Earths axis).

      3) All evidence shows that the current heating trend (which isn’t cooling, or stagnating) is caused by humans. We were in a cooling trend when the industrial revolution began about 150 years ago. Ice core samples from around the world verify this fact. Then, when we started burning copious amounts of fossil fuels and biomass (trees, coal, oil, etc) and clear cutting forests for farmland and industrial land, we dumped large quantities of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. The global climate change is in effect the result of average global temperatures increasing rapidly. What would normally take a cycle of 8-10k years we did in a century.

      That is why global climate change is the result of humans not the normal cycle that causes climate change. Where before we were headed towards our next ice age, we’re now heading towards the next extinction event.

      Global climate change isn’t inherently bad if it is left to the natural cycle. That is because the natural cycle is so gradual that life on this planet can adapt and change and evolve to meet their needs and the demands of environment as it changes. But rapid change, like the current climate change we’ve instigated, is too fast for animals to adapt to and evolve in. This causes massive die outs.

      Do me a favor and actually learn what global climate change is and why we’re the cause of the current trend before making crap up. Thanks.

    • Chris Foley

      Just because the earth’s climate is always naturally changing , that does not preclude our ability as 7,000,000,000 humans, burning 500,000,000 gallons of oil EVERY DAY , to inflict serious and self detrimental change upon that natural change.

  • http://enria.org/ Freemon Sandlewould

    Libtard greenies are almost always scientific illiterates.

    • Krist Martin

      …yeah…except that almost all of those “libtards greenies” you’re referencing have degrees and actually are completely literate in science. Whereas the Retardicans (as exemplified in this lovely list) have no clue what they’re talking about. Try sticking to the facts.

  • Veri Tas

    “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.” – Michelle Bachmann

    “I can’t even dignify this statement with a response.” – Emily Neimanis


    Carbon dioxide in the air stimulates the growth of almost all plants on Earth. Photosynthesis primarily occurs in the leaves. This process requires sunlight, water and carbon dioxide, which are all acquired by and transported to the leaves.

    Plants absorb energy from sunlight to produce sugar that is used to energize themselves. They convert solar energy from the sun into chemical energy stored in the form of glucose (i.e. sugar). Along with sunlight and water, carbon dioxide is transformed into food for plants.

    Through their leaves, plants acquire carbon dioxide and diffuse it through tiny holes in the underside of their leaves called stomata. The loose-fitting cells of the lower part of the leaves allow carbon dioxide to reach other cells in the leaves.

    The role of plants in converting carbon dioxide into oxygen is essential for humans and other living beings that need oxygen.

  • Chris Foley

    Despite his butchering of the word nuclear, Bush is in fact correct. Nuclear power is the first step in eradicating greenhouse gas emissions. We have fail safe reactor designs now . Fukushima was supposed to have been decommissioned and replaced by the new technology 10 years prior to the Tsunami.The greed of humans was incredibly shortsighted. They wish they had spent that money upgrading now , don’t they? One of the safety designs of the reactor site , which was also defeated by human greed , was lowering the site 25 feet to save the cost of pumping seawater up to the reactors to cool them , over the 30 year design lifespan. This safety margin was designed to withstand a Tsumani and would have done just that. For the last 40 years ,here in the US, 30% of our electricity has come from nuclear power. The high level waste generated by these plants would cover a football field 7 feet deep. The amount of CO2 they kept out of our atmosphere can be calculated. It is in the hundreds of billions of tonnes .