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Why Jane Goodall Still Has Hope for Us Humans
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=60098"><span class="small">David Marchese, The New York Times</span></a>   
Monday, 12 July 2021 12:38

Marchese writes: "Wherever the story of our natural world ultimately lands, Jane Goodall will have earned a proud place in its telling."

Jane Goodall. (photo: CBS News)
Jane Goodall. (photo: CBS News)

Why Jane Goodall Still Has Hope for Us Humans

By David Marchese, The New York Times

12 July 21


herever the story of our natural world ultimately lands, Jane Goodall will have earned a proud place in its telling. Goodall, 87, first found fame in the early 1960s for her paradigm-busting work as a primatologist. Studying the chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, she was the first to observe those entrancing animals eating meat and using tools, thus expanding our understanding of primate capabilities. While that work is likely to remain what the public primarily associates her with, Goodall’s career as an activist is arguably her more important legacy. She has spent 44 years leading conservation efforts through her Jane Goodall Institute and seeding the future with like-minded souls via the Roots & Shoots educational programs for young people, which can be found in more than 60 countries and have nurtured millions of students. “You just plod on and do what you can to make the world a better place,” said Goodall, speaking via Zoom from her childhood home in Bournemouth, England, and whose “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times” will be published in October. “That’s all I can do. I can’t do more, I don’t think, than I’m doing.”

The stories you tell about the planet and conservation have to do with instilling hope. But all we have to do is look around to see the persuasiveness of stories built on fear and anger. Have you ever wondered if tapping into those emotions might be useful? No. It’s one of my big complaints when I talk to the media: Yes, we absolutely need to know all the doom and gloom because we are approaching a crossroads, and if we don’t take action it could be too late. But traveling the world I’d see so many projects of restoration, animal and plant species being rescued from the brink of extinction, people tackling what seemed impossible and not giving up. Those are the stories that should have equal time, because they’re what gives people hope. If you don’t have hope, why bother? Why should I bother to think about my ecological footprint if I don’t think that what I do is going to make a difference? Why not eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die?

Are there ideas you have about conservation that you feel are too radical to express publicly? Absolutely. I would never approach people about the crisis of the billions of animals in the factory farms and say you’ve got to be vegan. People have to change gradually. If you eat meat one less day a week, that’s the beginning. Bad zoos, you want to close them down, but you’ve got to work out what are we going to do with the animals when we do get it closed down. You have to make compromises. When I’m talking to people about eating animal products, I tell them that I read Peter Singer’s book back in the 1970s. I didn’t know about factory farms. I was shocked. The next time I saw a piece of meat on my plate, I thought, Goodness, this symbolizes fear, pain, death. Who wants to eat fear, pain and death? So I just tell them my story. I don’t ever want to appear holier than thou. You’ve got to be reasonable. If you tell people, “You’ve got to stop doing that,” they immediately don’t want to talk to you. The main thing is to keep a channel open. Young activists, sometimes they’re inexperienced and demand something. They ask my advice, and I say: Talk about how the issue is affecting you. How you feel about it. I think that’s the way forward. But that’s just my way.

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