One small planet

The theme this time is how we care for the natural environment. Much of the issue is concerned with helping people to make the best use of a small area of land.

However, we all need to be very aware of the links between how we live and our wider environment. Farmers living in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal may be unaware that clearing their sloping land of trees contributes to flooding in the delta areas of Bangladesh. Wealthy people in the West, using high quantities of fuel to maintain their way of life, may ignore the evidence that this adds to global warming – which is likely to contribute to drought in Africa and flooding in central America.

The world that God created was something of great beauty and wonder, but many parts of the world are now barren, unproductive or of little beauty. Each of us can influence in a small way

the area in which we live. We can encourage our neighbours to meet and discuss how to improve the environment where we live. Even in semi-arid areas or cities we can make a difference. There are plenty of ideas in this issue, but here is a personal challenge. Before the next issue of Footsteps arrives, plant and care for a few local tree seeds to mark the new millennium! With 35,000 copies of Footsteps, often shared by many readers, that makes a lot more trees in the world.

If the Earth were only a metre in diameter, floating just above the ground somewhere, people would come from everywhere to marvel at it. People would walk around it, marvelling at its big pools of water, its little pools and the water flowing between the pools. People would marvel at the bumps on it and the holes in it. They would marvel at the very thin layer of gas surrounding it and the water suspended in the gas. The people would marvel at all the creatures walking around the surface of the ball, and at the creatures in the water. The people would declare it precious because it was the only one, and they would protect it so that it would not be hurt. The ball would be the greatest wonder known, and people would come to admire it, to be healed, to gain knowledge, to know beauty and to wonder at how this could be. People would love it and defend it with their lives because they would somehow know that their lives, their own wholeness and roundness could be nothing without it. If the Earth were only a metre in diameter… Text from Ideas and Action Bulletin No. 176, FAO

Isabel Carter