January 29, 2000

Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev Foundation

1135 Tremont Street

Boston, Massachusetts 02120


Re: Contested Lands


Dear Sir:


     All over the world, opposing groups of humans are selfishly fighting over pieces of land that they both claim, neither group willing to give in to the other. Kashmir and the West Bank in Israel are two examples that come to mind. It seems to me that there is a simple, equitable solution, which I have never heard proposed, although probably every mother has used it on children fighting over a toy: both groups should withdraw, and give the land back to the wildlife they stole it from!


     Human beings think that we own, and have the right to dominate, every square inch of the Earth. That, besides being an absurd idea, is the basic reason why we are losing, worldwide, about 100 species per day. Habitat loss is at the top of every list of the primary reasons why species have become extinct or are in danger of becoming extinct. Although we all know from basic Biology that we are totally dependent on other species, we still refuse to give those species the right to live in their own habitat, unmolested by humans.


     What better way to get bickering humans to forget their petty differences and live in peace, than to ask them to come to the aid of a third party of even greater need?! Remember the song "We are the world"? People from all over the globe came together in the service of the world's children. The world's wildlife is in even more need than those children! I can't think of a more appropriate or important gesture than to start giving back some of the habitat that we so arrogantly took from them.


     Don't you agree?


                             Sincerely yours,


                   Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.


Cc:  Bill Clinton

     Al Gore

     Jimmy Carter

     David Brower


References: "Wildlife and the Ecocity" and "Wildlife Need Habitat Off-Limits to Humans!", from http://mjvande.info