Dear Mr. Gates,
My name is Gart van Gennip. I am a citizen of The Netherlands, but I live in the Amazon rain forest of northern Peru. You are undoubtedly aware of the dire state that the planet’s rain forests are in. In the last 100 years, 66% of the Earth’s rain forests have disappeared. With everything we know today, it should be illegal to cut down even a single tree here.
However, that is not the case; the destruction and deforestation continues at an unprecedented rate. In our province, Loreto, which is nine times the size of my country, 3.7 million acres of rainforest were lost to deforestation in the last ten years. And now, this destruction is accelerating, due to the production of palm oil.
Recently, a company that previously devastated the rain forests in Indonesia, set up shop in our area, and illegally bulldozed 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of primary rainforest in the area of a village called Tamshiyacu. This has caused quite some controversy here, but with a thoroughly corrupt regional president and administration that actually accommodate this kind of crime, there is not much anyone can do.
Just this week, it was brought to our attention that the problem is much greater than anyone could have guessed. One of the local NGOs trying to save our forests discovered that there is an agreement in the works to bulldoze and destroy no less than half of the entire province of Loreto, to produce palm oil. That is an area four and a half times the total surface of The Netherlands.
If this should ever happen, it would not just mean the destruction of 45 million acres of rainforest. Due to the nature of the industry, it would mean the destruction of the entire rain forest; all 91 million acres. This would also lead to the demise of its inhabitants; among others, 23 native tribes still live in these forests. Their culture and their way of life would be destroyed forever. Countless species of animals, birds, plants and trees would go extinct.
In other words; if this should ever come to pass, it would amount to nothing less than genocide, as well as ecocide.
Mr. Gates, I have enormous respect for your efforts to help the human population of this planet. You are under no obligation to spend your personal fortune on the education and well-being of others, yet you do. However, I would like to encourage you to redirect your focus somewhat. Humanity is hardly an endangered species, and while I applaud your efforts to prevent and alleviate suffering and fight ignorance (I do my part to achieve exactly the same within my own limited means) I can’t help but worry that in the future, there will be no planet left to support the ever increasing numbers of humans.
There are forces at work that have access to resources even greater than your own, and only with one purpose; to acquire vast fortunes and unlimited power. These forces are willing to sacrifice the entire planet to achieve that goal, ironically destroying even their own habitat. These forces are evil, and they must be stopped.
With all due respect, Mr. Gates, and I do mean that; if you are willing to help save humanity, please try to help save the planet first, or humanity will be deprived of their home, with no place to go. I am not asking for anything for myself; I just don’t have the means, nor the influence, to make a difference like you could.
The whole world is concerned about a wide range of issues, from modern day slavery to the nuclear capabilities of certain nations; from preventable illness and death from treatable diseases to global warming. But none of these issues will matter one iota, if we don’t make a real global effort to start saving the planet. The rain forests are a vital part of that planet and essential to our very survival.
Thank you so much for your time. I know you must receive many requests like mine, all equally worthy of your consideration, but please consider this; the urgency of the well-being of our planet outweighs all other deserving causes.
Many thanks, sincerely
Gart van Gennip