Hug the Trees!
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed.
At the time of my India visit, I knew next to nothing about the rapid destruction of forests in Third World countries, or about its costs in terms of firewood shortage, soil erosion, weather shifts, and famine. Still, I was at once intrigued at hearing about the Chipko Movement -- mountain villagers stopping lumber companies from clear-cutting mountain slopes by issuing a call to "hug the trees."
So one morning -- along with a Gandhian friend, a young engineer -- I found myself on the bus out of Rishikesh, following the river Ganges toward its source.
Before long we had left the crowded plains behind and were climbing into the Himalayas. Thick forest covered the mountain slopes, interrupted only occasionally by terraced field reaching dramatically up the mountainsides. Our bus bumped along a winding road halfway between the river below and the peaks above, as it followed the river's meanders around the sides of mountains.
This was the Uttarakhand -- the name given to the Himalaya of Uttar Pradesh state, lying against India's border with Chinese-ruled Tibet. A major source of timber and water power, this was a region of vast natural riches -- in contrast to the poverty of the people living there.