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25 Edward Abbey Quotes From the Environmental Activist

These Edward Abbey quotes will give you insight into the mind of a great environmental advocate.

The Monkey Wrench Game, written by American environmental activist Edward Abbey, is hailed as an inspiration to eco-warriors.

It is one of his most known works.

Just who was Edward Abbey?

His father, a socialist, anarchist, and atheist, influenced Abbey’s beliefs growing up.

His mother, a school teacher, helped cultivate his love of literature and classical music.

He is clearly a mix of the two, as he became a writer who brought awareness to the environment, to what anarchy is, and how he felt government should run.

The Edward Abbey quotes below delve more into what he thought about the wilderness, life, and the role of anarchy within government.

Ironically, Abbey served as a part of the military police in Italy, where he was promoted twice.

However, his natural inclination to fight authoritative figures led to him being demoted (twice) and then honorably discharged.

It was that time in the military that reinforced his distrust of institutions and furthered his beliefs.

Enjoy these Edward Abbey quotes!

If you enjoy this article, check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily motivation. 

If you want more motivational quotes, check out our motivational quotes category page.

Edward Abbey quotes about being out in the wilderness

1. “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization that destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” ― Edward Abbey

2. “A man could be a lover and defender of the wilderness without ever in his lifetime leaving the boundaries of asphalt, powerlines, and right-angled surfaces. We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to set foot in it. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it, the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis.” ― Edward Abbey

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3. “The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need if only we had the eyes to see.” ― Edward Abbey

4. “The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.” ― Edward Abbey

5. “Wilderness. The word itself is music.” ― Edward Abbey

6. “Why this cult of wilderness?… because we like the taste of freedom; because we like the smell of danger.” ― Edward Abbey
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our collection of Into the Wild Quotes to inspire you.

Edward Abbey quotes about life

7. “Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.” ― Edward Abbey

8. “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” ― Edward Abbey

If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of fighting cancer quotes about the battle of a lifetime.

9. “You can’t study the darkness by flooding it with light.” ― Edward Abbey

10. “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” ― Edward Abbey

11. “Anarchism is democracy taken seriously.” ― Edward Abbey

12. “Freedom begins between the ears.” ― Edward Abbey

13. “Where all think alike there is little danger of innovation.” ― Edward Abbey

14. “There is beauty, heartbreaking beauty, everywhere.” ― Edward Abbey

15. “I stand for what I stand on.” ― Edward Abbey

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16. “A drink a day keeps the shrink away.” ― Edward Abbey

17. “When the situation is hopeless, there’s nothing to worry about.” ― Edward Abbey

18. “A house built on greed cannot long endure.” ― Edward Abbey

19. “The distrust of wit is the beginning of tyranny.” ― Edward Abbey

20. “Each thing in its way, when true to its own character, is equally beautiful.” ― Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey quotes on life lessons

21. “May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.” ― Edward Abbey

22. “Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top.” ― Edward Abbey

23. “If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture—that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves.” ― Edward Abbey

24. “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” ― Edward Abbey

25. “Be loyal to what you love, be true to the earth, fight your enemies with passion and laughter.” ― Edward Abbey

Have you seen these John Muir quotes on the mountains of life?

What did you learn from these Edward Abbey quotes?

During his time in college, Abbey worked on the school newspaper and began writing about anarchy, publishing an article titled, “Some Implications of Anarchy.”

This caused the university to yank all the copies off the ‘shelves’ and ban him from the newspaper.

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It likely had to do with the Voltaire quote he chose to use as a cover quotation: “Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”

Despite the incident at the student paper, Abbey earned a bachelor’s in philosophy and English from the University of New Mexico.

He would later earn a master’s in philosophy as well.

In his master thesis, Abbey posed two questions that I think many of us have often pondered when considering the matter: “To what extent is the current association between anarchism and violence warranted?

In so far as the association is a valid one, what arguments have the anarchists presented, explicitly or implicitly, to justify the use of violence?”

In large part to his writings about the draft, Abbey found himself on the FBI’s watchlist for most of his life.

When he learned of this later in his life, Abbey stated, “I’d be insulted if they weren’t watching me.”

Abbey worked as a park ranger which influenced works like Desert Solitaire.

Upon his death, he wanted to be buried out in the wilderness without any embalming.

He is buried in an undisclosed location within the Cabeza Prieta Desert in Pima County, Arizona.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Edward Abbey quotes and sayings?

Do you have any other favorite quotes to add?

Let us know in the comment section below.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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