Jane Goodall, primatologist and environmentalist, UK | Faces of Climate Change | DW | 09.12.2015
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Faces of Climate Change

Jane Goodall, primatologist and environmentalist, UK

"How come the most intellectual creature to ever walk on planet earth is destroying its only home? There is a disconnect between the clever brain and a human heart."

#link:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Goodall_Institute:Jane Goodall# is the grand dame of conservation and wildlife protection. And a dame to boot. But neither that status, which she was awarded in 2004 in recognition of decades of environmental work, nor the dozens of other accolades she has accumulated over the years, have gone to her head. On the contrary, her humility and gentleness are self-evident, and are perhaps the very qualities that make her such a force to be reckoned with.

As a young child her mother gave her a toy chimpanzee for her birthday. It was the start of a life-long love of the animals with which more than 50 years of study have made her so synonymous. She now travels for 300 days a year to talk to people about her work and about the urgent need for others to do whatever they can to help save not just the face, but the substance of our planet.

Jane Goodall 1965

Her passion for chimpanzees has given her great authority

She assumed an ambassador role in 1990, when flying over Tanzania's #link:http://www.tanzaniaparks.com/gombe.html:Gombe Stream National Park#, where she had lived for so long with her beloved primates. From the air she was horrified to discover that it was no longer the lush green belt of forest it had once been, but a mere "oasis" surrounded by barren land. She says realized right then that she stood no chance of being able to save the chimpanzees when people in forest - the lungs of the earth - were living in poverty.

"So I began a program to improve peoples lives. And it worked. It improved local people's lives, the indigenous people, so they became our partners, and if you fly over the Gombe national park now, ten years after we began the program, you will not see bare hills. They are covered in trees."

She speaks in terms of hope - one which she aims to inspire in people all over the world. She understands the "sense of helplessness and hopelessness" felt by so many, but with eyes as soft as her voice, she seeks to assure anyone in doubt that any effort is just that, and as such, well worth making. She places her faith, in particular, in the younger generations.

"We have to listen to their voices, empower them to take action." Her #link:http://www.janegoodall.org/what-we-do/roots-and-shoots/:Roots and Shoots program# is testimony to that belief.

But the young cannot do it alone. Goodall cites corruption as one of the biggest problems facing the natural world, and calls on politicians, corporations and indeed all of us to help stamp it out by asserting pressure and making ethical choices in our everyday lives.

"Politicians are not going to take the tough stand that must be taken to fight corruption to save the planet for the future unless there are people behind them, to support them when they take though decisions."

Her great desire is to see the world set back on track to become a place in which people live with a respect for their surroundings and those in far-flung corners of the globe. She urges decisions to be made with the future rather than finance in mind.

"We must stop thinking of money as God."

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