Michael Pollan quote

"Originally, the atoms of carbon from which we're made were floating in the air, part of a carbon dioxide molecule. The only way to recruit these carbon atoms for the molecules necessary to support life-the carbohydrates, amino acids, proteins, and lipids-is by means of photosynthesis. Using sunlight as a catalyst the green cells of plants combine carbon atoms taken from the air with water and elements drawn from the soil to form the simple organic compounds that stand at the base of every food chain. It is more than a figure of speech to say that plants create life out of thin air."

Michael Pollan

Born: February 6, 1955

Occupation: Author

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More quotes of Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan

Dreams of innocence are just that; they usually depend on a denial of reality that can be its own form of hubris.

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Michael Pollan

For a product to carry a health claim on its package, it must first have a package, so right off the bat it's more likely to be processed rather than a whole food.

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Michael Pollan

You are what what you eat eats.

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Michael Pollan

Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. Don't eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.

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Michael Pollan

America ships tons of sugar cookies to Denmark and Denmark ships tons of sugar cookies to America. Wouldn't it be more efficient just to swap recipes?

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Michael Pollan

... the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world. Daily, our eating turns nature into culture, transforming the body of the world into our bodies and minds.

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Michael Pollan

Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.

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Michael Pollan

More grass means less forest; more forest less grass. But either-or is a construction more deeply woven into our culture than into nature, where even antagonists depend on one another and the liveliest...

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Michael Pollan

The first thing to understand about nutritionism is that it is not the same thing as nutrition. As the "-ism" suggests, it is not a scientific subject but an ideology. Ideologies are ways of organizing...

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Michael Pollan

Originally, the atoms of carbon from which we're made were floating in the air, part of a carbon dioxide molecule. The only way to recruit these carbon atoms for the molecules necessary to support life-the...

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Michael Pollan

For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?

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Michael Pollan

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we...

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Michael Pollan

You cannot eat apples planted from seeds. They must be grafted, cloned.

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Michael Pollan

Another day it occurred to me that time as we know it doesn't exist in a lawn, since grass never dies or is allowed to flower and set seed. Lawns are nature purged of sex or death. No wonder Americans...

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Michael Pollan

The big journals and Nobel laureates are the equivalent of Congressional leaders in science journalism.

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Michael Pollan

Don't ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap.

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Michael Pollan

So that's us: processed corn, walking.

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Michael Pollan

This is part of human nature, the desire to change consciousness.

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Michael Pollan

It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car.

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Michael Pollan

Measured against the Problem We Face, planting a garden sounds pretty benign, I know, but in fact it's one of the most powerful things an individual can do--to reduce your carbon footprint, sure, but more...

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Michael Pollan

The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.

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Michael Pollan

At home I serve the kind of food I know the story behind.

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Michael Pollan

In addition to contributing to erosion, pollution, food poisoning, and the dead zone, corn requires huge amounts of fossil fuel - it takes a half gallon of fossil fuel to produce a bushel of corn.

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Michael Pollan

But carbon 13 [the carbon from corn] doesn't lie, and researchers who have compared the isotopes in the flesh or hair of Americans to those in the same tissues of Mexicans report that it is now we in the...

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Michael Pollan

It has become much harder, in the past century, to tell where the garden leaves off and pure nature begins.

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Michael Pollan

Half of all broccoli grown commercially in America today is a single variety- Marathon- notable for it's high yield. The overwhelming majority of the chickens raised for meat in America are the same hybrid,...

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Michael Pollan

You may not think you eat a lot of corn and soybeans, but you do: 75 percent of the vegetable oils in your diet come from soy (representing 20 percent of your daily calories) and more than half of the...

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Michael Pollan

Don't eat anything your great-great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. There are a great many food-like items in the supermarket your ancestors wouldn't recognize as food.. stay away from these

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Michael Pollan

Johnny Appleseed was revered . . he was . . . an evangelist (of a doctrine veering perilously close to pantheism).

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Michael Pollan

Lawns are a form of television

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Michael Pollan

[Government] regulation is an imperfect substitute for the accountability, and trust, built into a market in which food producers meet the gaze of eaters and vice versa.

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Michael Pollan

The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.

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Michael Pollan

The sheer novelty and glamor of the Western diet, with its seventeen thousand new food products every year and the marketing power - thirty-two billion dollars a year - used to sell us those products,...

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Michael Pollan

It's more important that you eat vegetables, even if they are conventional -- I'm talking about for your health -- then it is until you wait until you can afford organic, or you can find organic.

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Michael Pollan

The gardener cultivates wildness, but he does so carefully and respectfully, in full recognition of its mystery.

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Michael Pollan

The larger meaning here is that mainstream journalists simply cannot talk about things that the two parties agree on; this is the black hole of American politics.

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Michael Pollan

Ripe vegetables were magic to me. Unharvested, the garden bristled with possibility. I would quicken at the sight of a ripe tomato, sounding its redness from deep amidst the undifferentiated green. To...

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Michael Pollan

Eating is a political act.

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Michael Pollan

Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does

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Michael Pollan

If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food, and food...

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Michael Pollan

Very simply, we subsidize high-fructose corn syrup in this country, but not carrots. While the surgeon general is raising alarms over the epidemic of obesity, the president is signing farm bills designed...

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Michael Pollan

Don't eat anything incapable of rotting.

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Michael Pollan

Shake the hand that feeds you.

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Michael Pollan

Are we, finally, speaking of nature or culture when we speak of a rose (nature), that has been bred (culture) so that its blossoms (nature) make men imagine (culture) the sex of women (nature)? It may...

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Michael Pollan

But human deciding what to eat without professional guidance - something they have been doing with notable success since coming down out of the trees - is seriously unprofitable if you're a food company,...

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Michael Pollan

The corporatization of something as basic and intimate as eating is, for many of us today, a good place to draw the line.

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Michael Pollan

Design in nature is but a concatenation of accidents, culled by natural selection until the result is so beautiful or effective as to seem a miracle of purpose.

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Michael Pollan

The wonderful thing about food is you get three votes a day. Every one of them has the potential to change the world.

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Michael Pollan

Most important thing about your diet is who cooks it, a human or a corporation.

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Michael Pollan

Food is not just fuel. Food is about family, food is about community, food is about identity. And we nourish all those things when we eat well.

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Michael Pollan

I think perfect objectivity is an unrealistic goal; fairness, however, is not

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Michael Pollan

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.

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Michael Pollan

Man is by definition the first and primary weed. Weeds are not the other. Weeds are us.

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Michael Pollan

That eating should be foremost about bodily health is a relatively new and, I think, destructive idea-destructive not just the pleasure of eating, which would be bad enough, but paradoxically of our health...

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Michael Pollan

People say they don't have time to cook, yet in the last few years we have found an extra two hours a day for the internet.

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Michael Pollan

Eating's not a bad way to get to know a place.

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Michael Pollan

When you're cooking with food as alive as this -- these gorgeous and semigorgeous fruits and leaves and flesh -- you're in no danger of mistaking it for a commodity, or a fuel, or a collection of chemical...

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Michael Pollan

The real food is not being advertised

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Michael Pollan

For we would no longer need any reminding that however we choose to feed ourselves, we eat by the grace of nature, not industry, and what we're eating is never anything more or less than the body of the...

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Michael Pollan

The correlation between poverty and obesity can be traced to agricultural policies and subsidies.

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Michael Pollan

A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.

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Michael Pollan

The environment is not just around you, it's passing through you.

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Michael Pollan

The great virtue of a diversified food economy, like a diverse pasture or farm, is its ability to withstand any shock. The important thing is that there be multiple food chains, so that when any one of...

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Michael Pollan

Farms produce a lot more than food; they also produce a kind of landscape and a kind of community.

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Michael Pollan

Experiences that banish irony are much better for living than for writing.

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Michael Pollan

Without such a thing as fast food, there would be no need for slow food,

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Michael Pollan

What an extraordinary achievement for a civilization: to have developed the one diet that reliably makes its people sick!

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Michael Pollan

...There's a lot of money in the Western diet. The more you process any food, the more profitable it becomes. The healthcare industry makes more money treating chronic diseases (which account for three...

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Michael Pollan

Not everyone can afford to eat well in America, which is a literal shame, but most of us can: Americans spend less than 10 percent of their income on food, less than the citizens of any other nation.

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Michael Pollan

Culture, when it comes to food, is of course a fancy word for your mom.

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Michael Pollan

The green thumb is equable in the face of nature's uncertainties; he moves among her mysteries without feeling the need for control or explanations or once-and-for-all solutions. To garden well is to be...

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Michael Pollan

Tree planting is always a utopian enterprise, it seems to me, a wager on a future the planter doesn't necessarily expect to witness.

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Michael Pollan

Seeds have the power to preserve species, to enhance cultural as well as genetic diversity, to counter economic monopoly and to check the advance of conformity on all its many fronts.

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Michael Pollan

A garden should make you feel you've entered privileged space -- a place not just set apart but reverberant -- and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the...

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Michael Pollan

If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.

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Michael Pollan

The ninety-nine cent price of a fast-food hamburger simply doesn't take account of that meal's true cost--to soil, oil, public health, the public purse, etc., costs which are never charged directly to...

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Michael Pollan

Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

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Michael Pollan

Instead of eating exclusively from the sun, humanity now began to sip petroleum.

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Michael Pollan

Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill, and eat animals the way we do.

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Michael Pollan

Nature abhors a garden.

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Michael Pollan

The soybean itself is a notably inauspicious staple food; it contains a whole assortment of "antinutrients" - compounds that actually block the body's absorption of vitamins and minerals, interfere with...

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Michael Pollan

Organic Oreos are not a health food. When Coca-Cola begins selling organic Coke, as it surely will, the company will have struck a blow for the environment perhaps, but not for our health. Most consumers...

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Michael Pollan

There's something magical that happens when people eat from the same pot. The family meal is really the nursery of democracy. It's where we learn to share; it's where we learn to argue without offending....

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Michael Pollan

California's Proposition 37, which would require that genetically modified (G.M.) foods carry a label, has the potential to do just that - to change the politics of food not just in California but nationally...

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Michael Pollan

We are not only what we eat, but how we eat, too.

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Michael Pollan

When chickens get to live like chickens, they'll taste like chickens, too.

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Michael Pollan

Curiously, the one bodily fluid of other people that doesn't disgust us is the one produced by the human alone: tears. Consider the sole type of used tissue you'd be willing to share.

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Michael Pollan

Suffering... is not just lots of pain but pain amplified by distinctly human emotions such as regret, self-pity, shame, humiliation, and dread.

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Michael Pollan

There is nothing wrong with special occasion foods, as long as every day is not a special occasion.

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Michael Pollan

Rule No. 12: shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.

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Michael Pollan

Rule No.37 The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.

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Michael Pollan

Imagine if we had a food system that actually produced wholesome food. Imagine if it produced that food in a way that restored the land. Imagine if we could eat every meal knowing these few simple things:...

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Michael Pollan

This for many people is what is most offensive about hunting—to some, disgusting: that it encourages, or allows, us not only to kill but to take a certain pleasure in killing. It's not as though the...

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Michael Pollan

Food is also about pleasure, about community, about family and spirituality, about our relationship to the natural world, and about expressing our identity. As long as humans have been taking meals together,...

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Michael Pollan

In 2008, a year of supposed 'food crisis', we grew enough food to feed 11 billion people. Most of it was not eaten by humans as food, however.

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Michael Pollan

Cheap food is an illusion. There is no such thing as cheap food. The real cost of the food is paid somewhere. And if it isn't paid at the cash register, it's charged to the environment or to the public...

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Michael Pollan

Cooking might be the most important factor in fixing our public health crisis. It's the single most important thing you can do for your health.

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Michael Pollan

Human health should now be thought of as a collective property of the human-associate d microbiota, as one group of researchers recently concluded in a landmark review article on microbial ecology - that...

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Michael Pollan

My work has also motivated me to put a lot of time into seeking out good food and to spend more money on it.

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Michael Pollan

Why don't we pay more attention to who our farmers are? We would never be as careless choosing an auto mechanic or babysitter as we are about who grows our food.

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Michael Pollan

We are at once the problem and the only possible solution to the problem.

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Michael Pollan

...forgetting is vastly underrated as a mental operation.

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Michael Pollan

For it is only by forgetting that we ever really drop the thread of time and approach the experience of living in the present moment, so elusive in ordinary hours.

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Michael Pollan

That anyone should need to write a book advising people to "eat food" could be taken as a measure of our alienation and confusion. Or we can choose to see it in a more positive light and count ourselves...

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Michael Pollan

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

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Michael Pollan

But that's the challenge -- to change the system more than it changes you.

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Michael Pollan

we ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse. (quoting Joel Salatin)

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Michael Pollan

Corn is a greedy crop, as farmers will tell you.

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Michael Pollan

Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it

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Michael Pollan

Time is the missing ingredient in our recipes-and in our lives.

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Michael Pollan

He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French...

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Michael Pollan

High-quality food is better for your health.

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Michael Pollan

People in Slow Food understand that food is an environmental issue.

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Michael Pollan

Every major food company now has an organic division. There's more capital going into organic agriculture than ever before.

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Michael Pollan

This, for many people, is what's most offensive about hunting—to some, disgusting: that it encourages, or allows, us not only to kill but to take a certain pleasure in killing

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Michael Pollan

The human animal is adapted to, and apparently can thrive on, an extraordinary range of different diets, but the Western diet, however you define it, does not seem to be one of them.

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Michael Pollan

Studies show that organically grown crops produce more of the things (ascorbic acid, lycopenes, resveratrol, flavonols in general, etc) that our bodies need and also have less toxic residue. Science is...

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Michael Pollan

Without the potatoe, the balance of European power might never have tilted north

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Michael Pollan

Plus, I love comic writing. Nothing satisfies me more than finding a funny way to phrase something.

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Michael Pollan

...A one-pound box of prewashed lettuce contains 80 calories of food energy. According to Cornell ecologist David Pimentel, growing, chilling, washing, packaging, and transporting that box of organic...

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Michael Pollan

A tension has always existed between the capitalist imperative to maximize efficiency at any cost and the moral imperatives of culture, which historically have served as a counterweight to the moral blindness...

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Michael Pollan

In Joel's view, that reformation begins with people going o the trouble and expense of buying directly from farmers they know - "relationship marketing," as he calls it. He believes the only meaningful...

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Michael Pollan

While it is true that many people simply can't afford to pay more for food, either in money or time or both, many more of us can. After all, just in the last decade or two we've somehow found the time...

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Michael Pollan

The whole of nature is a conjugation of the verb to eat, in the active and passive.

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Michael Pollan

Another thing cooking is, or can be, is a way to honor the things we're eating, the animals and plants and fungi that have been sacrificed to gratify our needs and desires, as well as the places and the...

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Michael Pollan

Is it just a coincidence that as the portion of our income spent on food has declined, spending on health care has soared? In 1960 Americans spent 17.5 percent of their income on food and 5.2 percent of...

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Michael Pollan

My writing is remarkably non-confessional; you actually learn very little about me.

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Michael Pollan

People have traditionally turned to ritual to help them frame and acknowledge and ultimately even find joy in just such a paradox of being human - in the fact that so much of what we desire for our happiness...

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Michael Pollan

There's a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals, in which sentiment and brutality exist side by side. Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause...

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Michael Pollan

Avoid food products containing ingredients that are A) unfamiliar B) unpronounceable C) more than five in number or that include D) high-fructose corn syrup

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Michael Pollan

American farmers produced 600 more calories per person per day in 2000 than they did in 1980. But some calories got cheaper than others: Since 1980, the price of sweeteners and added fats (most of them...

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Michael Pollan

Okinawa, one of the longest-lived and healthiest populations in the world, practice a principle they call hara hachi bu: Eat until you are 80 percent full.

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Michael Pollan

Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of your milk.

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Michael Pollan

A vegan in a Hummer has a lighter carbon footprint than a beef eater in a Prius.

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Michael Pollan

Those externalized costs have always included labor. It is only the decline over time of the minimum wage in real dollars that's made the fast food industry possible, along with feedlot agriculture, pharmaceuticals...

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Michael Pollan

People don't eat nutrients, they eat foods, and foods can behave very differently than the nutrients they contain.

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Michael Pollan

Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature.

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Michael Pollan

I made the unexpected but happy discovery that the answer to several of the questions that most occupied me was in fact one and the same: Cook.

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Michael Pollan

A growing and increasingly influential movement of philosophers, ethicists, law professors and activists are convinced that the great moral struggle of our time will be for the rights of animals.

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Michael Pollan

Anyway, in my writing I've always been interested in finding places to stand, and I've found it very useful to have a direct experience of what I'm writing about.

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Michael Pollan

Corn is an efficient way to get energy calories off the land and soybeans are an efficient way of getting protein off the land, so we've designed a food system that produces a lot of cheap corn and soybeans...

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Michael Pollan

Fairness forces you - even when you're writing a piece highly critical of, say, genetically modified food, as I have done - to make sure you represent the other side as extensively and as accurately as...

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Michael Pollan

For at the same time many people seem eager to extend the circle of our moral consideration to animals, in our factory farms and laboratories we are inflicting more suffering on more animals than at any...

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Michael Pollan

I have had the good fortune to see how my articles have directly benefited some farmers and helped build markets for their products in a way that preserves land from development. That makes me a hopeless...

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Michael Pollan

Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

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Michael Pollan

Stop eating before you're full.

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Michael Pollan

Better to pay the grocer than the doctor.

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Michael Pollan

Without its daydreams, the self is apt to shrink down to the size and shape of the estimation of others

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Michael Pollan

The short, unhappy life of a corn-fed feedlot steer represents the ultimate triumph of industrial thinking over the logic of evolution.

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Michael Pollan

To eat with a fuller consciousness of all that is at stake might sound like a burden, but in practice few things in life afford quite as much satisfaction.

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Michael Pollan

Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.

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Michael Pollan

Imagine for a moment if we once again knew, strictly as a matter of course, these few unremarkable things: What it is we're eating. Where it came from. How it found its way to our table. And what, in a...

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Michael Pollan

We're supposed to show people how the world is, to give them the tools they need to make good decisions as citizens or consumers. Depending on what your values are - the environment, your health, animal...

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Michael Pollan

Don't eat any foods you've ever seen advertised on television.

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Michael Pollan

Most of the time pests and disease are just nature's way of telling the farmer he's doing something wrong.

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Related quote

Michael Pollan

Originally, the atoms of carbon from which we're made were floating in the air, part of a carbon dioxide molecule. The only way to recruit these carbon atoms for the molecules necessary to support life-the...

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Thom Hartmann

Many people I've met believe that plants are made up of soil-that the tree outside your house, for example, is mostly made from the soil in which it grew. That's a common mistake. That tree is mostly made...

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Michele Bachmann

Carbon dioxide is natural. It occurs in Earth. It is a part of the regular lifecycle of Earth. In fact, life on planet Earth can’t even exist without carbon dioxide. So necessary is it to human life,...

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Freeman Dyson

The fundamental reason why carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is critically important to biology is that there is so little of it. A field of corn growing in full sunlight in the middle of the day uses up...

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George Wald

Four elements, Hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen, also provide an example of the astonishing togetherness of our universe. They make up the "organic" molecules that constitute living organisms on a...

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Michael Faraday

You will be astonished when I tell you what this curious play of carbon amounts to. A candle will burn some four, five, six, or seven hours. What, then, must be the daily amount of carbon going up into...

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David Easton

In the Gaia theory air, water, and soil are major components of one central organism, planet Earth. What we typically think of as life - the plants and animals that inhabit the earth - has evolved merely...

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Neil deGrasse Tyson

Some molecules - ammonia, carbon dioxide, water - show up everywhere in the universe, whether life is present or not. But others pop up especially in the presence of life itself. Among the biomarkers in...

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Democritus

Moving in space, the atoms originally were individual units, but inevitable they began to collide with each other, and in cases where their shapes were such as to permit them to interlock, they began to...

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John Boehner

The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they...

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Dan Rather

President Bush insisted today that he was not caving in to big money contributors, big-time lobbyists, and overall industry pressure when he broke a campaign promise to regulate carbon dioxide emissions...

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Freeman Dyson

The essential fact which emerges ... is that the three smallest and most active reservoirs ( of carbon in the global carbon cycle), the atmosphere, the plants and the soil, are all of roughly the same...

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Annie Dillard

All the green in the planted world consists of these whole, rounded chloroplasts wending their ways in water. If you analyze a molecule of chlorophyll itself, what you get is one hundred thirty-six atoms...

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Fritjof Capra

When carbon (C), Oxygen (o) and hydrogen (H) atoms bond in a certain way to form sugar, the resulting compound has a sweet taste. The sweetness resides neither in the C, nor in the O, nor in the H; it...

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Gwynne Dyer

There is a point of no return after which warming becomes unstoppable - and we are probably going to sail right through it. It is the point at which anthropogenic (human-caused) warming triggers huge releases...

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Joanne Nova

Everything on our dinner table-the meat, cheese, salad, bread, and soft drink-requires carbon dioxide to be there. For those of you who believe that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, we have a special diet:...

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Rick Santorum

The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is,

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Ed Miliband

The transition to a low-carbon economy will be one of the defining issues of the 21st century. This plan sets out a route-map for the UK's transition from here to 2020...every business, every community...

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Joseph J. Romm

The coal plants that will be built from 2005 to 2030 will release as much carbon dioxide as all of the coal burned since the industrial revolution more than two centuries ago.

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George Wald

I tell my students, with a feeling of pride that I hope they will share, that the carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen that make up ninety-nine per cent of our living substance were cooked in the deep interiors...

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James Hansen

Goals and caps on carbon emissions are practically worthless, if coal emissions continue, because of the exceedingly long lifetime of carbon dioxide in the air.

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