Sunday, November 2, 2008

We have only one planet..

‘We’ve got one planet and we can’t go on like this’

Nobody sent him the memo to behave like a principled human being. Bush is doing his damnedest to cause trouble, now by deregulating commercial fishing, controls on pollutant emissions that contribute to global warming, relaxing drinking-water standards and lifting a restriction on mountaintop coal mining. And there's a new technology of repression being investigated that involves filming everyday activities from aircraft. No chance of a warrant needed from there, is there?

"The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

"Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining."

In contrast to this last amoral power grab is Julie's report of a meeting with Jane Goodall, a woman of courage, a true visionary and somebody who should be getting the headlines instead of the latest bimbo-of-the-week.

Julie linked to a recent talk that Goodall gave in Hong Kong. Jane Goodall was one of my childhood heroes and she continues to hold that position now that I'm an adult. We are on the brink of destroying so much that is priceless. As she says at the end of the interview, "What will it take to melt the ice in a human heart?" Obviously Bush and Co. don't have hearts. They only have greed, amoral behavior and the impulse to destroy. If at all possible, we can't let that happen. If Bush and Co. are doing this during their last months in office, can you image the destruction McSame will wreak on our hapless planet?

HONG KONG: Clutching a stuffed monkey doll, like an overgrown child in need of an emotional prop, Dr Jane Goodall saunters into the room. She’s a tall, slender, 70-plus-year-old woman with silver hair and gentle-yet-piercing eyes, and when she speaks, her voice breezes through the room like wind rustling through a tropical forest.

“First of all,” she says, “I’d like to greet you. But since I can’t speak your language, I’ll greet you in chimpanzee language.” She then breaks out into a succession of loud hoots, yips and chattering noises, her voice rising and falling and, finally, trailing off. “Now, that,” she explains, “means ‘hello and welcome’.”

It’s an attention-grabbing entrance, of course, but today, Goodall has a rather more dramatic message to convey. The primatologist, whose work with chimpanzees in Gombe National Park in erstwhile Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania) since the 1960s has changed the way human beings view themselves, says that rapacious lifestyles today are stripping the earth of its resources and endangering everything from animal habitats to the hopes of future generations of humans.

“Given the kind of lifestyle that the average person in Hong Kong or New York leads today, we’ll need four new planets to support,” says Goodall. “But we don’t have four planets, do we? We’ve only got this one. So we can’t go on like this.” It was the shrinking habitat of the chimpanzees in Gombe — due to population pressures and extensive deforestation — that alerted Goodall to a larger problem. But the more she addressed it, she realised that Africa’s problem was linked to the unsustainable lifestyles elsewhere — and, in more recent times, China’s and India’s quest for energy resources in that continent.

Which is why Goodall has given herself over to travelling across the world and spreading her message of sustainable development. “The more I travel, the more I realise the interconnectedness of our destinies.” Detailing how the TACARE (pronounced ‘Take Care’) project, initiated by the Jane Goodall Institute in the area in 1994, had succeeded in reversing the degradation of resources around Gombe by focussing on socio-economic development of the community and educating them on sustainable natural resource management, Goodall said this offered her hope that the future could be redeemed.

Noting that her observations of violent group behaviour among male chimps had caused disquiet among scientists — because it advanced the view that given their common ancestry, humans were genetically predisposed towards violence — Goodall emphasised that “we also have the inherited tendency for love, compassion and rational thought”.

“What gives me hope,” she says, “is the amazing capacity of the human brain to come up with innovative solutions, the indomitable human spirit that fights back, and the resilience of nature.”

“It’s time to recreate the age of wisdom when elders would gather and ponder how any decision they would make would affect our future seven generations down the line,” says Goodall. Quoting the words of an Eskimo leader, she concluded: “Up in the north, the ice is melting. What will it take to melt the ice in the human heart?”

1 comment:

tangobaby said...

When I watched Dr. Goodall give her talk, part of me could not help resurrecting Sarah Palin in a part of my brain. I hate the way this person has insinuated herself into my mind.

Jane Goodall represents so much about humanity and womankind that is honorable and wise and good. I wish more and more people could hear her message than that fraud from Alaska. It makes me ill to think about how our planet and our minds have been destroyed in past years.