Randy Hayes, director, Rainforest Action Network
Jason Clay, director, Cultural Survival
Peter Bahouth, chairman, Greenpeace
Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead
Bob Weir, Grateful Dead
Mickey Hart, Grateful Dead
Dr. Noel Brown, UN Environment Program
Brown: The tropical forests are being lost at the rate of eleven million hectares a year, or 50 acres a minute - a problem that not only
threatens genetic diversity, but human survival in these rainforests.
Moreover, the problem is likely to be compounded by the fact that by
the year 2000 there will be a fuel wood deficit of some 900 million
cubic meters. As a result of that, people are likely to put greater
pressure on the forests.
Then there is the growing recognition of the problem of global
warming - the fact that the forests are natural sinks, and if we
destroy them then we will lose one of the principal laboratories for
the transformation of CO2 into oxygen. There is a tropical forest
action plan which involves government and non-governmental
organizations, but we need to rally and mobilize public support. We
need all sectors of society to become involved. And that is why this
initiative of the Grateful Dead - to place their art in the service of
the environment, in the service of the rainforest, and ultimately in
the service of life - is so important to us at the United Nations. We
welcome them, and we look forward to working with them in the future.
Congratulations, gentlemen, and thank you very much.
Garcia: The thing that makes it newsworthy from our point of view is
that we've never really called on our fans, the Deadheads, to align
themselves one way or another as far as any particular cause is
concerned, because of a basic paranoia about leading someone. We don't
want to be the leaders, and we don't want to serve unconscious
Power is a scary thing. When you feel that you are close to it, you
want to make sure that it isn't used for misleading. So all this time
we've avoided making any statements about politics, about alignments of
any sort. This is even true of the notion of giving, and things like
that - mercy.
But this is, we feel, an issue that is strong enough and
life-threatening enough that inside of the world of human games,
where people regularly torture each other and overthrow countries, and
there's a lot of murder and hate, there's the larger question of global
survival and everything else. We want to see the world survive to play
those games, even if they're atrocious. So the sense of this is, "Let's
take a break in the stuff that we normally do and address the world's
survival," and hopefully we'll include our own in there.
The reason that we've gotten involved with Greenpeace and Randy and
Jason is because these are direct-action groups. They work the way we
do: they work directly into the problem, with as few levels of
bureaucratic stuff between them and the thing they're trying to
accomplish. We hope that we can empower our own audience with a sense
of being able to do something directly and actually having an effect
that's visible in some way. We hope to continue this as an ongoing
process and to be able to report regularly what is happening, what
we've done, and whether or not any of this stuff has been efficacious.
That's essentially what it's about. Guys?
Weir: I'll follow that by saying that we're here to announce our
awareness of the problem and to address it as best we can. We're just
learning at this point. We're learning from our colleagues over here
and from various other sources. But this much we know: it's not really
an esthetic issue - it's more an issue of survival that we're facing
here. It's a problem we can and must address if we're to have a planet
that's capable of supporting life. We have to address the economic
issues that cause the destruction of rainforests, or they're going to
go away, and other things are going to go away as well - including,
probably, life on this planet. So in order to give ourselves a chance
to work out the other problems, we have to have a future in which to
work things out.
Hart: I'd just like to reiterate what Bob said. This is a whole Earth problem. This is not just our problem - this is the world's problem, and the world should take care of itself. Half of the indigenous species on this planet are located in the rainforests. It would be a foolish chance to take, and especially for the children. We can just do so much in our lifetime, but what about the kids? That's what this is all about, and that's one of the reasons we think we could do something that would matter. And with our music - and with your help - we can move a little air.
Hayes: At the Rainforest Action Network we've been working for about
two years to organize a grassroots activist network to sound the alarm
on this rainforest crisis. We do that through education,
demonstrations, banner hangings, civil disobedience... We're prepared
to get arrested and we're prepared to put our life on the line if
that's what it takes to get the job done.
We work with a worldwide network of activists. In the industrial
north we're working with people in Japan, Europe and here in the
United States; in the tropics we're working with people in the Amazon,
in Africa, in Southeast Asia. Our priority is simply to speak the
truth about this problem and the nature of the true roots of the
causes. There's one thing we need to be clear about, and that's that
the rainforest destroyers are not simply the overpopulating
third-worlders. The destruction starts here at home with our
overconsumption of tropical hardwoods - teaks and mahoganies;
rainforest beef for our fast-food hamburgers.
Our tax dollars, through foreign aid, through USAID and the World
Bank, have financed some of the most destructive highways and massive
dams and resettlement projects. We have to ask the question: who builds
the bulldozers, and whose hand is really on the chainsaw? It's you and
I, but it's also Chase Manhattan, it's Citicorp, it's Bank of America,
it's the US government, and it's the World Bank.
The problem starts here at home, and the philosophy of the Rainforest Action Network is "Physician, heal thyself." We've got a lot of work to do here in the United States to save the rainforest. Rainforest destruction is a life-and-death issue. When I was in Malaysia, they asked for help in fighting the timber industry from destroying their forest and destroying their lives. When I was in Brazil, the Amazonian leaders asked for help in stopping US tax dollars from financing projects that destroy the forest and destroy their lives.
We're here today to appeal to people who share our concern, who share our outrage, and who share our desire to reverse these patterns of
destruction. The overconsumption, the industrial system of the planet,
is challenging this planet's life support systems. And it's not just
the rainforests' life - but it's our lives. The truth is, you are all
going to die if the rainforest dies. The truth is that our foreign aid
investment is a form of false generosity that's coming back to haunt us
through the greenhouse effect and the destruction of rainforest
I believe that if we're silent, then we're guilty of crimes against
the Earth. I also believe that if we act now we're going to be able
to save the rainforest. We're really the last generation that's going
to have a chance to save the rainforest. Projections are that by the
year 2050 they'll be gone. That's less than one person's life span. I'm
really thankful to the Grateful Dead for helping us bring this message
out to millions of more people who haven't yet heard it.
Jason Clay: Tribal people are the traditional inhabitants of the
world's most fragile land areas: tropical rainforests. They've lived in
these areas for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. They know how to
use the rainforests and yet sustain them. They've been called the once
and future resource managers.
Today, forest-dwelling tribal people are disappearing even faster
than the forests themselves. One group per year in Brazil since 1900
has been lost entirely. But we're not talking about history today -
we're talking about the present, too. In the last six months in Brazil,
fifty thousand gold miners have rushed into one area where ten thousand
tribal people live. As a result, violence that has taken place, more
than one Indian per day has died from direct shootings, killings of
some sort, and probably four or five times that many have died from
diseases each day.
Tribal people know more about rainforests than all western scientists put together. We must work together with them to sustain the
rainforests and to determine how we might use them without letting them
be destroyed. Our own future probably lies in the rainforest - not just
their survival, but learning how to use what they have to offer us.
Tribal people are the key.
Bahouth: I want to stress how happy I am and how thankful I am for the fact that the Grateful Dead have been involved in this project. I
really want to say to everyone how important their approach to this
whole project has been.
The project probably started about a year ago, mostly with Randy and some of the members of the band, and Jason and I came in a bit later. But I want to stress that the band has been very conscientious about their approach to this project and to this problem, in the sense that they have not tried to simplify the problem; they have not tried to
Madison-Avenue it; they've not tried to speak on the issues when they
felt that they weren't competent enough scientifically or with their
background to speak to the issue. They've tried to bring in three
different groups, and I personally appreciate that because the three of
us have gotten so much work done just up to this point in this
project. So my thanks to the Grateful Dead. We really appreciate it.
The money is going to be put to a good cause, and we hope this event
continues for years and years until we resolve the problem....
I'm very happy they picked the rainforest, because it touches on so
many different concerns. A few square miles of rainforest contain as
much species diversity as the entire United States. I'm happy because
it touches on the concern of weather and the greenhouse. It's important
because it touches on cultural and indigenous people issues, and
because it touches on the basic concept of sharing of information. We
all know that the rainforest is important to all of us, and one of the
problems we're facing right now is some of the unilateral and bilateral
developmental banks right now do not share information on their
projects. And that's a very important key to it as well. Thank you.
Q: The money that's going to be raised - how will that be used? Will
that go to the UN environmental program, or divided between the groups?
Will it go for information programs?
Clay: Cultural Survival, which will receive 25% of the net funds
raised at the concert, will spend about half of that sum on resource
projects with indigenous peoples - projects that they design and they
run themselves. Projects that help these groups who live in rainforests
around the world sustain those rainforests, yet earn the kinds of cash
that they need in the modern world. The rest of the funds will be spent
on research on crisis and chronic problems in rainforests as they
affect tribal people, and on public information campaigns and allowing
indigenous groups to travel back and forth and see what some of the
success stories are that other groups are experimenting with.
Bahouth: Specifically, Greenpeace is working on the export of
pesticides to third world countries, and the export of other toxics. We
also have a multilateral developmental bank project which is looking at
some of the most heinous projects being funded by the unilateral banks,
and trying to force scoping sessions or informational sessions to try
to be able to get people involved in the process of deciding which
projects get funded, or which projects - more importantly - should not
Hayes: The proceeds of the concert will be divided into four parts,
with each of the three groups getting one of the parts. The fourth part
will be for the band, to finance future events. For the Rainforest
Action Network, we will use the money to launch a US tropical timber
campaign, and also to build a grassroots network here in the United
States of rainforest action groups all over the country.
Brown: None of the funds will come to the United Nations Environment
Program or any other part of the UN system. We are, after all, an
intergovernmental organization. We have now targeted some eight billion
dollars for 55 countries under the Tropical Forest Action Plan. But we
welcome the fact that the nongovernmental community can mobilize
resources for direct action, and anything the United Nations can do to
support this, we will do it.
Weir: This is going to be an ongoing effort on our behalves. What we
hope to do is attract a great deal of support throughout the artistic
community. Insofar as we're going to be ongoing in this effort, we will
be able to publish, as the years go by, our successes and failures,
where the money has gone, and specifically how the issue has been
addressed. So you'll be able to see what our progress is.
Q: I'd like to ask Jerry what concrete steps you would suggest to
right-minded, like-minded people who want to help the rainforest?
Should they withhold tax dollars that go to these vicious projects
which you've describe? Should they boycott teakwood?
Garcia: Yeah, all of the above. The thing that we discovered going
into this is, Yeah, sure, we'd love to do anything we can to help the
rainforest, oh, yeah - with all the best intentions, blundering into a
situation which turns out to be incredibly complex, with all sorts of
levels... where somebody's paying to clear ground in order to grow
illegal drugs... It goes on and on. It never ends. The levels of
convoluted weirdness about the whole rainforest thing. It has to do
with money, of course - that's what it's really about. What you have to
do, if you care about this, is what we had to do: plunge into this
information and find out what you can. The more you can know about it,
the more you can find some way to be actively involved and have some
effect. I don't think it's simply a matter of throwing money at it - it
isn't that kind of thing. It isn't so direct. It's tricky.
Q: I'm wondering what type of follow-up activity the Grateful Dead
will be involved in other than concerts...
Garcia: Well, that's what we can do, y'know.
Weir: We can attract attention and raise money.
Garcia: We can continue to point a finger at this problem, and as
things get to be more clear, or things start to happen that look like
they're changing the trend, we can talk about those, try to reinforce
them. It's a learning process, and like any process you have to start
somewhere. Here's what we can do. We can play a concert. We can raise
some money. We can work with these groups here. That much we found out
by just putting in the time and the energy and doing it.
It's not that hard for the Grateful Dead to sell out a concert in New York City, so it isn't just that, it's all the backup. 'Cause we want to know that this is going to work out right. We want to follow up on it, we want to see what happened to the money, and whether this is
gonna actually do anything. Is this the right way to proceed, or what?
We're finding out. This is a first step in an effort to find out
whether this can work.
Weir: We are committed in the long run.
Garcia: We've chosen these groups because we like that direct-action
thing. That's like what we do at home. We have a foundation of our own
that does things at home, but they're aimed at the street. We don't
like a lot of stuff between us and the work.
Q: What about the lyrics of your songs? Throwing Stones...
Garcia (to Weir): See, you never should have written that song. Our one political song!
Weir: It's not political! It's apolitical!
Garcia: Jeez! He's got one now that's much more offensive. [laughter]
Q: There's a song called Throwing Stones. Does that have anything to
do with your environmental consciousness?
Weir: Not really. That's just barely articulated rage at the way things are going in general.
Garcia: This is just the beginning of our series of gripes, y'know.
Weir: We've written nothing new to address this specific issue. That's not really the way we'd want to do it. We're actually addressing this issue in specific concrete terms rather than throwing poetry at it.
Garcia: What we do for a living is provide a way out of all this stuff. What we do for a living is provide an alternative, another reality that doesn't have these kind of problems in it, necessarily. But as people, as inhabitants of Earth... This is what we're doing, as inhabitants of Earth - not necessarily as members of the Grateful Dead.
Q: Why now? What motivated you personally?
Garcia: It's taken this long to decide.
Weir: It's taken this long to become aware of the problem, and the fact that we personally are threatened. And you, too.
Q: Who brought it to the band? Whose idea?
Garcia: Bob. He found it on his doorstep.
Weir: I don't know exactly how I got attracted to it, but I ran into
Peter and Randy at a gathering, and Mickey was also there. I've been
concerned with environmental issues for a long time, but it just sort
of fell together all in one neat little package. Also, the overwhelming
concern with which we're dealing became real clear and apparent to me
kind of suddenly about a year ago.
Q: Have you visited any rainforests?
Weir: Yeah, but...
Garcia: Only the easy ones.
Weir: Not a lot of people who are going to be affected by the
rainforest are ever going to have a chance to visit it. Nonetheless,
you are affected by it.
Garcia: It's the appalling statistics that get to you, finally. Fifty years,they're gone. That's it. Boom.
Hart: Just to think that the rainforest is far away is not what you should be thinking. The rainforest is right at your door - I mean, the effect of it.
Weir: The weather is here.
Garcia: Yeah, we're living in that already. This stuff is already
Hart: It's a hard thing to address when it's three thousand, five
thousand miles away.
Garcia: Somebody has to do something. In fact, it seems pathetic that it has to be us.
Weir: We're not paid to do this, you know.
Garcia: This is not our regular work.
Weir: It's not my field.
Garcia: It's not my field, yeah.
Hart: It is now.
Weir: If there are newer statistics, we probably don't want to know
Brown: Twenty football fields a minute.
Garcia: Twenty football fields a minute. That's graphic.
Hayes: US citizens also need to be aware that the United States has
tropical rainforests. It's not just a distant problem. We have
rainforests in Hawaii, in Puerto Rico, in the Virgin Islands, and our
trust territories in the Pacific, so it's a problem we need to directly
Brown: The Panama Canal requires 55 million gallons of fresh water per ship for the canal to operate successfully. That water is generated by a watershed outside the zone, nourished by rainforests. Those forests
are threatened. Unless we can protect them, the canal is in serious
danger. We can't use the salt water from the Pacific... [it] would
create some ecological disturbances that would only compound the
problem. So very vital interests are at stake here, not to mention the
fact that the rainforests are indeed the lungs of the world.
Hart: I had a very interesting conversation with my son, who'll be
six, a couple of weeks ago. He likes Wendy's hamburgers, and we know
that the rainforests are being cleared to grow beef. He's a reasonable
sort, and I told him that all these animals are in this forest, and
they're going to be destroyed, and what do you think about that? Would
you give up a Wendy's hamburger for that? I was really moved. He said,
"No, Dad, I would give up that burger. I wouldn't want that burger. I
would rather see all those little creatures roaming around." He was
concerned about that. So I think we can reach the little guys, too. I
don't think it's just our concern as a group. If the little guys can
get it - it's their world, it's their future, and they should have a
chance to make it or break it as well.
Hayes: We know so little about the tropical rainforest. We probably
know more about the moon than we know about tropical rainforest. Most
of the scientific research in the rainforest has been done at the
forest floor level, and yet most of the ecological activity happens up
in the canopy. Only recently, using mountain climbing techniques and
ropes and equipment, have they been able to string themselves up into
the canopy and begin to study it. We know very little about the
rainforest. There's a lot to be discovered.
Brown: The data we have is that about 3% of all the species in the forest have been documented. It would take about 25,000 professional lifetimes to give us a picture of what we're destroying. One an hour.
Hayes: We need to start a massive grassroots campaign... to get people - particularly in the industrial north, in Japan and Europe and the United States, involved in this issue. Certainly the medical angle is important. 70% of the plants shown to have anti-cancer properties occur only in tropical rainforest, so the cure for cancer may be there - and many other diseases as well. Right now 25% of our medicines in the
local pharmacy were developed from plants that only occur in tropical
rainforests. This is critical to the future of humanity.
Bahouth: As a matter of fact, Randy, probably the cure for AIDS will
come from the rainforest if they don't destroy it.
Hayes: There are plants that they are now looking at in the Australian rainforest regions that seem to show promise.
Hayes: You need to understand that a tropical rainforest is a
non-renewable resource. It's like mining gold out of the earth. You
can't regrow another crop. You can never replant, with the original
genetic diversity, the kinds of medicines that occur out there, and
other products that are valuable to the people who live there and to
the rest of the planet. It's a non-renewable resource.
Garcia: The point is that nobody knows. Things like the weather are so subtle, and what effect the rainforest has on any of that stuff -
oxygen, all the things that you hear about, the big scares - it's not
known. But as long as it's not known, it's not a good idea to rip them
up and tear them down, you know what I mean?
Hart: You can't take the chance... There's an economic climate for
destruction down there in Brazil. We have to reverse this; there's a
need to reverse this. We have to find alternative ways of developing
these forest that doesn't destroy them - that conserves them. We have
to come up with some of these answers. We're trying to probe around and
find which way to go.
Q: I understand that Japan is one of the largest consumers of wood out of the rainforest. Have you considered going to Japan and trying to
work with the kids there to put pressure on their own government?
Weir: If we go to Japan we'll do something within our sphere of influence.
Hayes: Japan is the world's largest importer of tropical timber.
Particularly in Southeast Asia, that's the major cause of the
destruction of the rainforests. The United States, however, is second.
There's a beginning movement in Japan to counteract their voracious
appetite for tropical timber, and this fall they will launch the Japan
Tropical Timber Campaign. Recently, the Japan Tropical Forest Action
Network was formed, and that's a consortium of 15 environmental groups
in Japan. I think it would be great for the band to go over and do a
benefit there. Then you're getting into the mouth of the financial
dragon. I'm sorry, United States, we're number two now to Japan in
terms of financing global destruction.
??: Within the last few years, Japan has become the financial center
of the world. The people who are investing in mining in Brazilian
rainforest areas are Japanese companies. They're buying shares in
Brazilian mining companies, and it's Brazilian companies that are doing
the dirty work. But this is the kind of connections we need to make, to
figure out where exactly to put pressure on. And Japan is certainly the
place at this point in time.
Hart: But I wonder if the Japanese people really know what's
happening. Maybe the companies that are doing this... but the people -
if they knew what was really going on... Really, this is about
awareness, consciousness, and to develop an understanding by sharing
information. Real facts, which we're getting here. I think that
everybody has a consciousness, even the people who run these
corporations, and if they really knew what was happening - maybe they
aren't aware, totally, all of them. Maybe there are some of them that
are - maybe there are some bad guys - but I don't think they're all bad
guys, so pointing the finger at Japan or the United States is not what
this is all about, really. It's about the destruction or the forest,
and we have to be real ingenious and creative in coming to grips with
this. This is a monstrous problem.
(These pre-recorded messages were shown on the video screens at Madison Square Garden during the benefit)
Lesh: My major concern, then, is the irreparable loss of the diversity of species that exists in the rainforest, as well as the loss of the knowledge that occurs when the local tribes are either removed from their habitat or destroyed completely. It's been said that when an
Amazon medicine man dies, it's like burning down a library. Please help
us to stop that.
Kreutzmann: I get this opportunity to talk about something that's
really bothering me. It's about the loss of trees in our world. And
particularly, we might think about trees where you live. I know the
Deadheads get to live every place, and I think that's wonderful and I
admire you for that. But all those trees that you're going to go see,
or visit or drive by, might not be there some day. Matter of fact,where
I live, in northern California, in Mendocino, they're doing their
darndest to denude the land, the forest. We're losing trees that have
been growing for 2000 years. I'm not sure I agree that just because
those people own the property they have the right to take the trees,
and to take the oxygen source from our lungs, basically. We're talking
about saving each other, and one thing I'd like would be some real
support, some interest from the fans, from you folks, from Deadheads -
and help us with this cause. 'Cause you know the Grateful Dead is not a
band to get into causes. We've never... pushed any political candidate.
But now we're talking about Mother Earth.
Mydland: I think it's very important that we talk about the fact that this is for our kids. It's not necessarily for us, it's for future
generations. We're talking about maybe losing cures for cancer; air,
water; we're talking about losing life on earth, really, the way we
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