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One of the defining features of the Anthropocene is that the world is changing in ways that compel species to move, and another is that it’s changing in ways that create barriers — roads, clear-cuts, cities — that prevent them from doing so.

Elizabeth Kolbert (b. 1961) American journalist and author
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, ch. 9 “Islands on Dry Land” (2014)
Added on 1-Aug-23 | Last updated 1-Aug-23
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In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it perches.

Paul Ehrlich
Paul Ehrlich (b. 1932) American conservation biologist and ecologist

All citations for this I found are from a reference in Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, ch. 13 (2014), to a sign in the American Museum of Natural History's Hall of Biodiversity which "offers a quote from the Stanford ecologist Paul Ehrlich," giving the above text.

I was unable to find the phrase in Ehrlich's written work, though it could be from a speech, media comment, etc.

In Ehrlich's One with Ninevah: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future (2005), the epigraph for chapter 2 is a quotation from William R. Catton, Jr., Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, ch. 2 (1980), regarding Earth's finite non-renewable resources:

This fact puts mankind out on a limb which the activities of modern life are busily sawing off.

This might be the source of a misattribution to Ehrlich, though the context is not quite the same, and the metaphor of sawing off the branch one is sitting on is not unique to Ehrlich or Cotton. More research is needed.

Added on 18-Jul-23 | Last updated 18-Jul-23
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Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.

Kennedy - war end of mankind - wist_info quote

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, United Nations (23 Sep 1961)

Speech written by Theodore "Ted" Sorensen.
Added on 25-May-16 | Last updated 25-May-16
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It’s easy to think that as a result of the extinction of the dodo, we are now sadder and wiser, but there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that we are merely sadder and better informed.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
Last Chance to See, ch. 6 (1990)
Added on 17-Aug-15 | Last updated 17-Aug-15
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Birds should be saved because of utilitarian reasons; and, moreover, they should be saved because of reasons unconnected with any return in dollars and cents. A grove of giant redwoods or sequoias should be kept just as we keep a great and beautiful cathedral. The extermination of the passenger pigeon meant that mankind was just so much poorer; exactly as in the case of the destruction of the cathedral at Rheims.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
“Bird Reserves at the Mouth of the Mississippi,” A Book Lover’s Holiday in the Open (1916)
Added on 9-Mar-15 | Last updated 9-Mar-15
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