The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

Seven Environmental Principles from Star Trek


Scotty gets to work in Star Trek IV

Amy Larkin at The Guardian may be an even bigger Star Trek fan than I am.  She lays out seven principles from the series that are still relevant today.  Here’s a couple:

On biodiversity

Dr. Miranda Jones: I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity.

Mr. Spock: And the ways our differences combine, to create meaning and beauty.

– from Star Trek, “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” (1968)

Spock: To hunt a species to extinction is not logical.

Kirk: Ironic. When man was killing these creatures, he was destroying his own future.”

– from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

The Prime Directive, in essence, states: Don’t meddle in other planet’s peoples, history, culture or environment. This remains incredibly relevant to the world today. Our use of resources far and wide is wiping out species at an extraordinary rate (30% – 50% of all species may be extinct by midcentury) and destroying habitats, including oceans, forests and breathable cities and regions.

An earthbound Prime Directive for businesses trying to re-orient themselves might state: Don’t mess with the environment and its biodiversity.

Although some laws, such as the US Endangered Species Act, attempt to protect biodiversity in some places, they face constant attack by those interests that find protecting the planet unnecessary or inconvenient. That’s where the Star Trek lesson for accountants comes in. Until economic activity incorporates long-term impact in short-term pricing models, there will be no guardrail between our human habitat and a barren landscape.

On bureaucracy

Dr. McCoy: The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the universe.

– from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

Star Trek weighs in, with utter disdain ,on those who use rules to trump common sense and courage. ‘Nuff said.


Amy Larkin is the author of Environmental Debt: The Hidden Costs of a Changing Global Economy and the former director of Greenpeace Solutions.


Author: Daniela

I was born in Croatia, at that time Yugoslavia. My family moved to the US when I was very young, but I still treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," my grandmother shopping early every morning, at the open air market, to buy the freshest vegetables for the day's meals, and the traditions that were the underpinnings of our society. Someone once noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world; one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

3 thoughts on “Seven Environmental Principles from Star Trek

  1. I love this thanks for sharing. I’m a trekkie too, but more familiar with TNG and voyager.

  2. So good to have Star Trek brought in as a source of inquiry and wisdom (often ‘exploratory’ wisdom as characters worked through an assortment of Big Questions). My favorite episodes were when one of the non-human or ‘partial’ human characters pondered what it meant, or what it was like, ‘to be fully human’. I was so delighted that a TV series would raise such a deeply meaningful question!

  3. My favorite quote is the one on bureaucracy. It’s a scourge all over the world – and apparently throughout the galaxy.

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