High Times Greats: Jerry Garcia on Saving the World’s Rainforests

For this version of High Times Greats, we have now an unique (and well timed) interview with Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead by Legs McNeil, initially revealed in the February, 1989 situation of High Times.

When the rainforests go, so will we. Forget about nuclear holocaust for a second. Imagine what the world might be like when ecological calamity hits—worldwide famine, a scarcity of oxygen, the full disappearance of recent water, and the Greenhouse Effect gone mad. This time, it gained’t be restricted to some natives in Africa. We’re speaking worldwide dustbowl. Valuable plant and animal species that produce substances which have potential as cures for most cancers, AIDS, and different illnesses will probably be gone perpetually as nicely.

The statistics are staggering—100 acres of the world’s tropical rainforests, roughly the measurement of about 20 soccer fields, are destroyed each minute. Half of the tropical rainforests on this earth are already completely destroyed. Scientists predict, at the price of current destruction, all rainforests might be passed by the yr 2050, simply sixty years from at present. Tropical rainforests are the richest, oldest, most efficient, and most complicated ecosystems on earth. While they comprise solely two % of the globe, they help an estimated 5 million plant, animal, and bug species, in addition to many indigenous individuals who can survive nowhere else.

On Tuesday, September 13, 1988, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead, in addition to Dr. Jason Clay, the director of Cultural Survival, Peter Bahouth, the Chairman of Greenpeace USA, and Randall Hayes, the Director of the Rainforest Action Network, sat down at the panel in convention room 4 of the United Nations and alerted the world’s press to the horror of the vanishing rainforest. When requested why the Grateful Dead was stepping into the act and serving to to publicize the plight of the rainforest, Jerry Garcia answered in his personal inimitable type, “It appears pathetic that it needs to be us, with all the different residents of the planet, and all the different assets on the market, however since nobody else is doing something about it, we don’t actually have any selection.’’

High Times attached with Jerry again at his lodge room and requested him to elaborate on his position in talking out in protection of the rainforest a couple of days earlier than the Dead’s profit live performance at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

High Times: This is an awesome venture you’ve acquired your self concerned in.

Jerry Garcia: Oh, man! It’s taken up numerous a yr thus far, and that’s been principally simply understanding what it’s. It began off with this French man who needed type of an previous world, seven continent mega-event, and he needed to contain each main environmental company in the world. He’s a pleasant man—very brilliant. He was at a celebration selling this notion in San Francisco slightly greater than a yr in the past. Bobby was there, and Mickey, Randall from the Rainforest Action Network, and Jason from Cultural Survival. So what occurred is what all the time occurs at these type of affairs—it takes some time to know—environmental teams don’t like one another. They’re like Indians. They don’t like one another. This group doesn’t need to work with that one as a result of these guys have their palms on this—these fuckers are over right here with the huge main firms—in order that they don’t work with one another or speak to one another lots of occasions. So stepping into these issues, or any type of large-scale environmental drawback, means you must swim by way of the crowds.

With us, the entire notion of doing good is all the time just a little suspicious anyway. We’ve been working on it for years and we’ve found sure issues about it—like you need to comply with the cash to seek out out if it’s truly doing any good. We’ve executed it efficiently earlier than, as a result of we principally cope with actual close-to-the-bone “give us a hundred bucks, we can open a few cans of beans” sort of grassroots, low-scale, direct-action stuff. No paperwork. They’re not supporting secretaries—they don’t have a lawyer. It’s that sort of stuff we’re used to working with, and that direct “When do you need it? Right now? Bam, there it is.” That’s the approach we wish to work. That’s the method our basis works—it offers with tons and plenty of little issues.

So now we’re trying to handle a big concept. And so, Bob begins to speak me into it. The entire factor metamorphosed into lastly getting the teams that have been prepared to work collectively—which turned out to be Greenpeace, the Rainforest Coalition, and the Indigenous Peoples. These guys are all fairly far out on the fringe. You know Greenpeace—they’re the guys that go on the market and nail themselves to a tree. That type of direct motion is what we’re on the lookout for. We need it to be as straightforward to know as potential.

The rainforest drawback appears so distant. It’s like, there’s no rainforest round right here. Who’s it bothering? It actually is horrifying, as a result of we began first listening to the dangerous information about this 20 years in the past. They stated, “We gotta do something about the rainforest. They’re burning it down— they’re tearing it up even as we talk.” Now, right here it’s 20 years later, and positive sufficient, the rainforests are virtually all gone now. Fifty years—they’ll all be gone That’s It. Fifty years just isn’t a very long time anymore. That’s in the life span of my youngsters.

HT: You’ve made the assertion that you simply assume it’s fairly pathetic that you simply’re the ones who should do it.

JG: Yeah, it’s. It’s an alarming feeling. This is an earth drawback—the entire earth. And who’s left speaking about it? Us.

Come on! We’re not the ones. We’re not certified to do it. But we’re going to do it until, or till, any person else does. We’re going to maintain working on it. We’re going to get as a lot help from as many individuals as we probably can. We’re dedicated to it, so if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. We’re fairly critical about it.

HT: It’s about recent water, it’s about…

JG: It’s all that stuff. It’s the ozone layer, it’s the CO2, methane, it’s all these delicate balances that maintain the environment functioning. Plus, it’s the climate, producing stuff which no one understands.

If we lose it, we’re not going to get it again. It’s undoubtedly life-threatening, in the similar sense that atomic bombs are life-threatening, solely this one is senseless. It’s gone alongside and there’s no one at the wheel. Out of management. It’s utterly senseless, and it’s in motion day-after-day. Something must be executed about it. We’re alarmed—we’re simply making an effort to speak our personal alarm.

Raising one million dollars is not any huge factor. In some locations, just a little cash goes a great distance. Mostly, it’s attending to the World Bank and attending to the Japanese and attending to misappropriated cash designed to assist the so-called Third World nations—that bad-thinking cash—“We’ll bring this country into the 20th century by simply paving it from one end to the other.”

HT: In Brazil, there’s a program the place it’s authorized to clear half your land. So a man buys the land, clears out the land, then sells the different half.

JG: Right. You can do it infinitely. Zeno’s Paradox. Obviously, these issues usually are not going to work. There are individuals in Brazil who perceive. The entire factor is getting along with the ecologists and environmentalists down there to seek out out the correct strategy to handle the individuals who make the legal guidelines there. You can’t cop an imperialistic perspective—you recognize—“The rainforests belong to all people”—you possibly can’t do it. It’s their proper, and it’s their useful resource. But international survival means there’s extra at stake than that.

HT: What type of direct motion stuff do you assume Greenpeace will do?

JG: Their goal has to do with the pesticides and vegecides the US sells to nations in South America—all these poisoning and defoliating chemical compounds. Greenpeace is ready to go on the market and, in their very own inimitable means, park in entrance of the ships as they’re leaving the docks.

HT: Do you assume confrontational insurance policies will work?

JG: Only in some conditions. In some conditions that’s the solely factor you’ve acquired. In others it’s actually hopeless. For instance, you need to sit down and speak at the World Bank or they gained’t allow you to in.

HT: What does the World Bank do?

JG: The World Bank are the those that assure the loans that go on between industrial nations and the Third World. They’re the guarantor banks. They’re made up of a coalition of banks from America, Europe, and Japan—all the locations you’d anticipate them to be from. There are about 123 member banks, they usually put collectively these humanistic-sounding packages, however it’s principally simply take the cash and run. Like all banks, they’re fascinated with making as a lot cash as shortly as they probably can. They’re not well-advised most of the time, they usually don’t get the advantage of a variety of enter. They generally tend to fund these packages earlier than they actually know what injury they’ll do.

These individuals may be appealed to—they’re not hidden—they’re recognized. You can write to the president of the World Bank and make a critical attraction to him. Likewise, the Japanese have a way of delight which could be very sensitive, they usually don’t need to be regarded as being individuals who willingly trash the world, so the concept that, nicely…

February, 1989 cowl of High Times with Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead/ Chris Carroll

HT: Apply the strain and attraction to their satisfaction.

JG: Right. It’s attainable to show it round, nevertheless it means numerous letter writing, a lot of uninteresting stuff—massive, grassroots campaigns throughout the place.

HT: Do you assume individuals are getting extra involved? What have the reactions to what you’ve been doing been like?

JG: People are amazed that that is nonetheless a problem. “Oh, really? Is that still happening?” They’re additionally amazed to learn how shut we’re to the finish of this—we’re not going to have this to speak about for much longer. That’s the scary half.

The different half is that everyone feels distant and powerless—it’s one thing going on between these big corporations someplace in Brazil and what can we do? It’s so distant. So, after we’ve finished this present, and adopted this cash to the work that it’s supposed to perform, and are available again and say, “Well look, we’ve raised a million dollars at this show. We accomplished this, this, and this; that, that, and that.”

There is one thing you are able to do—it’s only a matter of simply knocking them over one by one. We’ve been suggested now to focus on these areas. Each one will pull our focus just a little tighter, in order that we all know somewhat extra every time. This is one thing that needs to be discovered—no one is aware of it but. So we’re getting into the spirit of an ongoing studying state of affairs which can inform us methods to cope with it.

HT: Have you talked to Sting? I do know he acquired concerned.

JG: I haven’t had an opportunity to, not but. I’d love to speak to anyone. We want all the assist we will get, and anyone who has an curiosity in that is welcome to correspond with us on any degree.

HT: Where ought to they write?

JG: They can write to us at the workplace (c/o RAINFOREST, 466 Green Street, San Francisco, CA 94133). We need assistance. For us, this isn’t a glamour merchandise—this can be a matter of survival.

HT: Did you bought concerned on this due to a religious awakening you skilled after you have been sick?

JG: Not precisely. It’s sort of turned out that approach, I assume. When I used to be mendacity there in the hospital with tubes in me in all places—“This machine is breathing for me. God, if I ever get out of here”— extra like that. I can consider one million issues I’d somewhat be doing than mendacity in a fucking hospital mattress. That was such a nasty expertise I’ll do virtually something to keep away from that. They have been washing my blood, you realize what I imply. You know— the place you possibly can odor your personal blood— the huge hoses—you are feeling like a bag of chemical compounds. When I got here to, after that coma, I imply, there I used to be—a bag of chemical compounds, you recognize, this machine slurching and issues beeping and monitoring stuff—I imply, I don’t need to have that occur to me anymore. No extra of that.

HT: Would you go and speak to the individuals at the World Bank?

JG: If I might. If I assumed it will matter. I might undoubtedly deliver anyone with me that knew the best way to speak, as a result of after sure ranges all these things is language. I can parrot nicely sufficient, however I’ve zero understanding of loads of it. But that’s a part of what this has been about, to study a few of that speak and to study a few of the type of considering that goes into these things—how did it get so dangerous in the first place? Why is it that they assume that is the proper approach to handle this useful resource? Who is making all the cash? It’s oblique in a number of locations.

Take this large dam undertaking. There’s a dam challenge arising in Brazil, which coincidentally cuts tons and plenty of forests, nevertheless it’s actually a dam undertaking. Theoretically it’s an power venture. The World Bank views it as power for the Third World. So they’re going to construct this big, grossly inefficient dam. The people who find themselves going to finish up making the most cash are going to be the Japanese, who’re sending the earth removers. So the Japanese have been pulling for this challenge as a result of they’re going to promote a number of earth movers—a number of tractors, overground four-wheelers, dump vans, all that stuff They’re the ones who’re going to take the first cash out. Then, after the dam is constructed, the second cash comes out. And so on and so on. So, this stuff are typically sort of pyramidal.

HT: The method I perceive the soils of the rainforest, all the vitamins are on prime.

JG: That’s proper. There is not any soil in the complete sense. And once you take that away, that’s it.

HT: It turns into desert.

JG: There’s the stuff referred to as arduous pack. It’s simply clay. Insects don’t stay in it. Nothing lives in it. So when the rainforest is gone, that’s what you’ve received left, and that’s nasty stuff.

This enterprise in Bangladesh—the rainforest was taken down over the previous couple of years. Now they’re in the catastrophe swing. First you get the floods. The stays of what little topsoil there was is gone now. Next, you get the famine that follows from not with the ability to produce any meals on the land. So they’re in that cycle now. Now it’s the flood adopted by illness, adopted by the famine. That’s it for Bangladesh. It’s appalling. Thousands and hundreds of individuals die. This is appallingly wasteful shit.

Meanwhile, in the Brazilian jungles there are all these extremely delicate genetic issues—crops that may remedy most cancers, remedy blindness, remedy AIDS. And these Indians know which of them. Those guys are getting poisoned systematically. This is pathetic. That’s our retailer of data and our genetic assets.

HT: I examine a psychotropic Mexican salamander that lives in the rainforest in Guatemala. But the properties of the tail drops off when predators kill them.

JG: That’s proper.

HT: And they only found a brand new frog that’s the most toxic…

JG: Those poisons are the sort of issues that folks use for open coronary heart surgical procedure.

HT: Yeah, they will hint the drawback to the mind.

JG: Right. It’s all this magical shit, you already know. It’s loopy to lose it and for such dumb causes.

HT: For hamburger.

JG: For fucking hamburger. That actually is a burn. Mickey’s received an awesome story that he tells about his child. He’s six years previous, a quick little child, and he loves his burgers. Mickey stated, “Hey listen, there’s these forests that have lots and lots of little animals in them, and crawling things and snakes and lots of things that live in there. And there are people who are taking these forests and cutting down the trees and taking away all the animals. And they’re doing it just so they can raise cattle to make the hamburgers that you buy here. If you had your choice between having the hamburger and letting the forest exist, what would you rather do?” And his child considered it for some time, and stated, “Yeah, I think I’d rather have the animals than a burger.”

Think of what that may imply to these locations, in the event that they thought that the 5 to 12 yr olds have been able to deciding to not purchase hamburgers—you already know what I imply? It would scare the daylights out of them. A grass-roots kid-operated boycott. They would fall method again. That’s their crowd.

HT: Or for those who might make the dinosaur connection—the youngsters…

JG: They love dinosaurs, yeah. This is the place the dinosaurs used to stay, they usually perceive that.

HT: Kids know all these Latin names of dinosaurs—they memorize them.

JG: I keep in mind I liked dinosaurs myself.

HT: Have you been to the rainforest?

JG: I’ve been to a few them, the Yucatan down in Mexico, that’s about the closest to right here, and Hawaii. It’s undoubtedly not pleasant to people—you’re coated with bugs in a matter of seconds— every part eats you. It’s bizarre as hell, however it’s a tremendous place. From an aesthetic viewpoint, the world ought to depart it alone only for that. Just so there’s such a spot. I really feel strongly about that, however that’s not ok. So, discovering different causes has been a part of that—right here’s the cause why we’d like not to do that.

HT: It’s a disgrace.

JG: Yeah, it’s. But so long as we do there are many causes, too.

HT: You talked about Mickey being into the advertising facet of it. For occasion, individuals give cash to child seals and the whales. Nobody provides cash to frogs or salamanders—they’re not “cute.” They don’t make good t-shirts.

JG: The rainforest’s animals aren’t that cute, like a three-toed sloth—an amazingly uncute animal. They’re actual sluggish. They have homely faces they usually don’t seem like a lot. Orangutans are fairly cute and there are some rainforests which have orangs in them. That’s a part of it. Part of it’s that we now have to get off this factor of cute. We need to develop different biases. The proven fact that people are being destroyed in that is appalling. They are additionally being killed. Some of them even are systematically poisoned out. They’ve dropped in sugar cubes which are loaded with poison they usually truly kill people.

HT: I keep in mind once they have been constructing the Trans-Panama freeway, there was lots of that.

JG: Yeah. They’ve completed that type of stuff—not fairly prefer it was, however there are many tribes whose existence is threatened.

HT: Kill the alien.

JG: That’s proper. That doesn’t appear needed, both.

HT: This is an election yr—shouldn’t Bush and Dukakis be saying one thing about…

JG: They must be, however it’s simply a sign of how little consideration this concept is getting. It’s not getting the consideration it deserves. They’re leaving it alone as a result of they will’t cope with it both. And we have already got such a twisted coverage—I imply, American cash is defoliating elements of Colombia for medicine.

HT: And placing dictators in energy.

JG: And they’re clearing land somewhere else to develop medicine. I imply, we’re giving this sign that’s so complicated, and our notion of what’s useful is the entire Contra factor and the remainder of that stuff. It’s like we don’t know what aspect we’re on, and neither Dukakis or Bush is aware of any higher than the remainder of us.

HT: How can our readers deal with this drawback if a presidential candidate can’t?

JG: Because I feel loads of the necessary stuff takes place outdoors the political area. This shouldn’t be actually inside the realm of politics, and even in the realm of overseas coverage, as a result of this has extra to do with world economics. The World Bank is the closest factor to a governing board right here and the governments of the world defer to the World Bank.

HT: Are you afraid of this being an ongoing factor?

JG: I’m afraid of not with the ability to remedy it. That’s what I’m afraid of. But we’ll keep it up. We’re dedicated. We’ll keep it up till the ball is basically rolling. But no one ought to mistake us for being the individuals that may clear up this drawback, as a result of it’s everyone’s concern. We don’t know the way it’s going to go, or what the greatest method to cope with it’s, however we will certainly report again with every little thing we discover out about. So we’re good for that. Everything else I don’t know.

HT: I assume we will finish this right here. Anything you need to add?

JG: No, however we recognize any assist we will get. They can come up with us, or any of the organizations. People can write to the president of the World Bank (1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20433), too.

HT: Thank you very a lot.

JG: Yeah.

Jerry Garcia and Legs McNeil/ Chris Carroll


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