Earth Day 2013: the 'pale blue dot' in quotations

Earth Day is April 22. There is no shortage of famous musings on what Carl Sagan once called our 'pale blue dot.' Here are 10 of our favorite things said about planet Earth.


The famous 'blue marble' photo taken by Apollo 17 in 1972, shows Africa with Asia on the horizon. (NASA)

"Near the sun is the center of the universe. Moreover, since the sun remains stationary, whatever appears as a motion of the sun is really due rather to the motion of the earth."

– Nicolaus Copernicus, "De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium," 1543

Missing manual

The moon is pictured above Earth in this handout photo courtesy of Col. Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency. (Col. Chris Hadfield/CSA/Reuters/Handout)

“Now there is one outstandingly important fact regarding Spaceship Earth, and that is that no instruction book came with it.”

Buckminster Fuller, "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth," 1963

An agreeable planet

A panoramic view taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) of east-central Texas. (Nasa Earth Observatory/Reuters/Handout)

"The earth does not argue,
 Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
 Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,
 Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures,
 Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
 Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts none out."

Walt Whitman, "Leaves of Grass," 1855

Natural remedies

Visitors view Half Dome from Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park, Calif. (Dino Vournas/AP/File)

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

Rachel Carson, "Silent Spring," 1962

Black gold

A mixture of oil, diesel fuel, water and mud sprays as roughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside Watford, N.D. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters/File)

"The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out." 

– Rep. Steve Stockman (R) of Texas, Twitter, 2013

Generous Earth

The International Space Station is shown with Earth's horizon as a backdrop. (NASA/AP/File)

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."

– Mahatma Gandhi as quoted in "Mahatma Gandhi, volume X: The Last Phase, Part II" by Pyarelal

Thumb eclipse

The Apollo 11 lunar module rises from the moon's surface for docking with the command module and the trip back to earth. The earth can be seen rising in the background. (NASA/AP/File)

“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” 

Neil Armstrong as quoted in the International Space Hall of Fame at the New Mexico Museum of Space History (and elsewhere)

Home sweet home

An aircraft passes the Milky Way over a treeline in one of the darkest places east of the Mississippi, Cherry Springs State Park in Potter County, Pa. (David Swanson/Philadelphia Inquirer/AP/File)

"There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.” 

Carl Sagan (Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1994)


Surface melt water rushes along the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet through a supra-glacial stream channel, southwest of Ilulissat, Greenland. (Ian Joughin/AP/File)

"[W]e must recognize our grave duty to hand the earth on to future generations in such a condition that they too can worthily inhabit it and continue to cultivate it."

Pope Benedict XVI, "Caritas in Veritate," 2009

Cause célèbre

Environmental activists and participants take part in a performance to mark World Earth Day at the Seoul City Hall plaza in central Seoul. (Jo Yong-Hak/Reuters/File)

"Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes."

P.J. O'Rourke, "All the Trouble in the World," 1994