David Quammen quotes:

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  • On April 3, 2014, Jane Goodall turned 80. The iconic blond ponytail has gone gray, but the sparkle of intelligence, sly humor, and fierce dedication still shines from her hazel eyes.

  • Viruses have to live somewhere. They can only replicate in living creatures. So, when the Ebola virus disappears between outbreaks, it has to be living in some reservoir host, presumably some species of animal.

  • We're shaking loose viruses and dislodging them from their natural ecological limitations, places where they aren't very abundant and have competition, even within a single animal. We introduce them into a new, rich habitat called the human population, where they can flourish more abundantly and cause more trouble.

  • I thought 'The Hot Zone' was fascinating, mesmerizing. It's one of the things that got me interested in Ebola.

  • One of the things that's particularly nefarious about Ebola is that it continues to live in a dead person for some period of time after death. A person who's been dead for a day or two may still be seething with Ebola virus.

  • There's a belief in some cultures that if a person experiences good fortune in financial terms and does not share the good fortune, when that person becomes ill with a mysterious fever and dies, people tend to say: 'Aha! It was because he didn't share. It was the spirits who brought him down.'

  • Most Americans know nothing about the African forest, and it seems to them a very scary, spooky dangerous place. I've spent a lot of time in the forests of central Africa. I know they're beautiful places that contain a lot of different kinds of creatures, including some that carry Ebola.

  • The more cases of Ebola infection we have, the more chances there are for the virus to mutate in a particular way that adapts it well to living in humans, replicating in humans, and perhaps transmitting from human to human.

  • Ebola isn't a respiratory virus. It doesn't spread through the airborne route. So it's not likely to spread like wildfire around the world and kill tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people. That's what I think of as the next big one.

  • I'm a white, middle-class male who had a happy childhood in Ohio. The world does not need me to be a novelist.

  • Kill off the sacred bear. Kill off the ancestral crocodile. Kill off the myth-wrapped tiger. Kill off the lion. You haven't conquered a people, or their place, until you've exterminated their resident monsters.

  • I was a prodigy who learned how difficult writing was only after getting published. I paid my dues later.

  • If you are lying in a tent in the Congo jungle, you don't want to be reading about rainforest biology. You want to be in a distant world.

  • By the cold Darwinian logic of natural selection, evolution codifies happenstance into strategy.

  • Identity is such a crucial affair that one shouldn't rush into it.

  • Nor are we the culmination of evolution, except in the sense that there has never been another species so bizarrely ingenious that it could create both iambic pentameter and plutonium.

  • You can't take a knife on a plane anymore, but you can get on carrying a virus.

  • Among the earliest forms of human self-awareness was the awareness of being meat.

  • Alternatively, anyone who favors Intelligent Design in lieu of evolution might pause to wonder why God devoted so much of His intelligence to designing malarial parasites.

  • The swallow that hibernates underwater is a creature called yearning.

  • And so in 1975, the grizzly bear was put on, as I said - on the endangered species list as threatened. And new measures were taken, for instance, bear-proofing garbage, creating new regulations to - essentially to try and keep people and people's food away from the bears, let the bears adjust to eating the abundant wild food that's available in Yellowstone and allow them to be more wild, to be independent of humans as sources of foods for the good of both sides. And that has been quite successful.

  • Of course anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can hope to read in one fleeting lifetime. A good book, resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper.

  • Results "are no good unless they answer (or can be made to seem to answer, or can be twisted and wrenched and piled into odd shapes until they hint at being somehow perhaps on the verge or answering) a question that someone might conceivably want asked."

  • To drown a river beneath its own impounded water, by damming, is to kill what it was and to settle for something else. When the damming happens without good reason . . . then it's a tragedy of diminishment for the whole planet, a loss of one more wild thing, leaving Earth just a little flatter and tamer and simpler and uglier than before.

  • Evolution as described by Charles Darwin is an scientific theory, abundantly reconfirmed, explaining physical phenomena by physical causes. Intelligent Design is a faith-based initiative in rhetorical argument. Should we teach I.D. in America's public schools? Yes, let's do - not as science, but alongside other spiritual beliefs, such as Islam, Zoroastrianism and the Hindu Idea that Earth rests on Chukwa, the giant turtle.

  • But private lands development around the periphery of the parks - Grand Teton and Yellowstone - is a crucial issue because if those private lands are transformed from open pastures, meadow, forest land to suburbs, to little ranchettes, to shopping malls, to roads, to Starbucks - if those places are all settled for the benefit of humans, then the elk are not going to be able to migrate in and out of Yellowstone Park anymore. And if the elk can't migrate into the park, then that creates problems for the wolves, for the grizzlies, for a lot of other creatures.

  • What do we measure when we measure time? The gloomy answer from Hawking, one of our most implacably cheerful scientists, is that we measure entropy. We measure changes and those changes are all for the worse. We measure increasing disorder. Life is hard, says science, and constancy is the greatest of miracles.

  • Heatstroke is an important and useful addition to the library on climate change, bringing insights from deep-time ecological research to help illuminate the dire forecasts of which we're already so aware.

  • [Theory is] an explanation that has been confirmed to such a degree, by observation and experiment, that knowledgeable experts accept it as fact. That's what scientists mean when they talk about a theory: not a dreamy and unreliable speculation, but an explanatory statement that fits the evidence. They embrace such an explanation confidently but provisionally - taking it as their best available view of reality, at least unil some severely conflicting data or some better explanation might come along.

  • As I started to read nonfiction in the mid '70s, I discovered, holy cow, there was a lot of imaginative nonfiction. Not the kind where people use composite characters and invented quotes. I hate that kind of nonfiction. But imaginative in the sense that good writing and unexpected structure and vivid reporting could be combined with presenting facts.

  • Mathematics to me is like a language I donā??t speak though I admire its literature in translation.

  • Islands are havens and breeding grounds for the unique and anomalous. They are natural laboratories of extravagant evolutionary experimentation.

  • Whether you like the label 'Anthropocene' or not, whether you find the prospect of what it signifies inevitable or appalling (or both), the time has come to address its implications, as these thoughtful, battle-tested authors attempt to do. The time has long since come.

  • I wrote four novels, but then I realized that the world didn't need me to be a novelist, but the world could use me as a nonfiction writer.

  • Islands are where species go to die.

  • Wallace's sales agent, back in London, heard mutterings from some naturalists that young Mr. Wallace ought to quit theorizing and stick to gathering facts. Besides expressing their condescension toward him in particular, that criticism also reflected a common attitude that fact-gathering, not theory, was the proper business of all naturalists.

  • I used to read only fiction. Now I don't read much, only occasionally, such as a Cormac McCarthy or a Jim Harrison novel.

  • You can hike into the Yellowstone backcountry. You can camp in the Yellowstone backcountry. You can take food into the Yellowstone backcountry, and you're surrounded by grizzly bears. And it's - it's a very, very thrilling, peculiar situation. Every sound that you hear in the night, you wonder is this a grizzly bear coming to tear into my tent?

  • If you're Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya, if you're in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, you don't get out of your vehicle and go walking around amid the lions and the leopards. You stay in your Land Rover. You stay in your safari van, and you look out the windows or you look out the pop top at these animals. I know by experience how badly that can work out if you violate those guidelines.

  • The elk are the most abundant large herbivores in the Yellowstone ecosystem. There are thousands and thousands of them. They migrate in and out. And those migration routes need to stay open.

  • There was a very important superintendent of Yellowstone, a man who was involved in the founding of the National Park Service itself, Horace Albright. And he became superintendent, which is the boss of Yellowstone Park, in 1919 - from 1919 to 1929. Later, he was director of the park service itself. Albright embraced the idea that in order for the national parks - and Yellowstone in particular - to have support from the American people and from politicians, there needed to be wildlife as spectacle.

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