Friday, January 11, 2019

Splendid Sentences, Part 6: Carl Sagan on the Environment

Science writer and Cornell professor Carl Sagan was a rare media star from the scientific community. He was also a powerful writer, explaining to the general public highly complex ideas  about mathematics, technology, and the cosmos. In Sagan's essay "The Environment: Where Does Prudence Lie?', which appears in his 1997 book Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium, he writes this 43-word sentence:
Science and technology have saved billions of lives, improved the well-being of many more, bound up the planet in a slowly anastomosing unity—and at the same time changed the world so much that many people no longer feel at home in it. 
Besides delighting in Sagan's choice of anastomosing, I like the way he begins the sentence with the idea of people's lives being saved and ends it with their lives being detached: two contradictory results emerging from one cause.


Read previous installments of "Splendid Sentences" on Words on the Line: