Some of us observed Earth Day on Monday, and I imagine, if you are one of those who believes you can save the earth, you are happy with it and maybe a little proud of yourself.
But I’ll tell you who saves the earth, year after year, day after day. It isn’t people who install solar panels on the roofs of their houses, nor is it people who run their diesel cars on reprocessed French fry oil, or who zip around in airliners to attend meetings on air pollution.
Rather, it is farmers, and foresters, and loggers and fisher people.
Farmers create food from the earth, and that food goes to feed the people of the United States and of other countries who trade with us.
American farmers get a lot of food out of a square foot of dirt, and they leave the dirt in good shape when they are through with it. If you drive through Madera, Fresno and Merced counties, for example, you will see farms that are carefully kept, on which nothing is wasted. Whether they are nut orchards, or dairies, or livestock spreads or vegetable operations, from coastal to central California, the land is kept up as if it were money in banks, which for all practical purposes it is.
Other great valleys and farm areas in the United States of America also produce food in quantities unheard of in previous generations.
People in cities who think food is produced in grocery stores should spend a few weeks every year working on farms so they can have a true understanding of how the real wealth of their nation is produced, and of how blisters feel after a day of real labor.
The average American has never helped a cow give birth to a calf, has never sheared a sheep, has never fed hogs or ridden a horse unless it was at a fair.
Hardly anyone in the United States except farmers has driven a tractor day after day to till the soil, or haul hay, or harvest nuts from a tree.
Nobody except farmers spends night and day moving irrigation pipe by hand, or picking up after jerks who think a momentarily untended field is a place to throw garbage, or steal fruit, or vandalize.
Hardly anyone else in the United States has to compete world-wide to make a profit on the things they produce. The only person who writes a farmer’s paycheck usually is the farmer.
The best way to celebrate Earth Day is to drive through farm country and see where people who actually take care of the Earth work harder than any city folk and usually risk more money.
Or go up the hills into the woods and work in a logging camp for a few days, and find out what work actually is. Use dangerous machinery to fell great trees and haul giant logs to trucks, where they can be loaded to drive their cargoes to sawmills, where the logs can be cut into lumber to be used by city people to build homes and other buildings. Stay around so you can see what members of the urban idiocracy do when they go camping, and forget to put out their fires, or use the woods as a toilet or trash can. See how they foul streams or ponds that have to be cleaned up by woodsmen and women who actually work to keep the earth so other idiots can come along and enjoy it or maybe set it afire.
Or go to a place where commercial fishing boats are kept, and see the care with which the docks and the boats themselves are maintained with great effort. Go out with a commercial fisherman and pull in nets and lines until your hands bleed, or work at a hatchery or fish farm, where fish of all kinds are raised for all sorts of markets worldwide.
Nothing you can do on Earth Day — that one day a year — can ever come close to what farmers, and ranchers, and foresters, and loggers, and fisher people do every day of their lives.
These are people who sit down at their tables every night and say prayers of thanks to their maker for giving them this earth to take care of productively and pass on to future generations in better condition than it was when they, themselves received it.
That is Earth Day. That is every day for those people.