Isaac Asimov (January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was a Russian-born, American author, a professor of biochemistry, and a highly successful writer, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.
It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be … This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.
“My Own View” in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1978) edited by Robert Holdstock; later published in Asimov on Science Fiction (1981)
There are limits beyond which your folly will not carry you. I am glad of that. In fact, I am relieved.
Doctor Susan Calvin in “Robot Dreams” in Robot Dreams (1986)
[In response to this question by Bill Moyers: What do you see happening to the idea of dignity to human species if this population growth continues at its present rate?] “It’s going to destroy it all. I use what I call my bathroom metaphor. If two people live in an apartment, and there are two bathrooms, then both have what I call freedom of the bathroom, go to the bathroom any time you want, and stay as long as you want to for whatever you need. And this to my way is ideal. And everyone believes in the freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the Constitution. But if you have 20 people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up, you have to set up times for each person, you have to bang at the door, aren’t you through yet, and so on. And in the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, but it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies.
Interview by Bill Moyers on Bill Moyers’ World Of Ideas (17 October 1988)
“It is a mistake,” he said, “to suppose that the public wants the environment protected or their lives saved and that they will be grateful to any idealist who will fight for such ends. What the public wants is their own individual comfort. We know that well enough from our experience in the environmental crisis of the twentieth century.”
Section 1, Chapter 7 (p. 56; note that the book is set in the year 2100) The Gods Themselves (1972)
I don’t like anything that’s got to be. I want to know why.
Section 2, Chapter 2a