As I travel around throughout much of tropical Asia, and beyond, I see exactly how poor natural resource stewardship and simple human greed are negatively impacting God's perfect creation through deforestation, soil erosion, loss of wetlands, overuse of water and climate change. I see clearly how unsustainable practices are impacting everyone, especially the poorest persons living on the margins of society. They're the ones most vulnerable to drought, flooding, poor crop yields, diminishing fisheries, etc.
As a professional change agent with a privileged vantage point that comes from travel and access to the media, I spend much of my time focusing on the sustainable use of resources by smallholder farmers. I read about saving the world. I teach about natural farming. I share technical resources for sustainable agriculture. I warn about climate change and even worry about my carbon footprint.
However, nothing that I do even comes close to the daily collective effect of small farmers living on the margins. Despite having limited access to land and other resources, many are practically self sufficient with regard to food, fuel and housing. Their consumption of resources is small and they are not wasteful. They find it necessary to live in tune with their natural surroundings despite weather patterns, government policies and economies that are in drastic change around them.
Folks such as these are the original sources of much of the information, ideas and seeds that ECHO Asia shares with its network. Some of them gladly host visits from ECHO Asia's clientele of development workers and farmers who desire practical knowledge about agroforestry, home gardens, natural farming and green manure cover crops. They're what we call the real deal.
So as we recognize Earth Day 2013, let's not forget those who practice Earth Day everyday, whether they realize it or not. We owe it to them.