Tuesday 20 August 2019

Dr Jane Goodall warns the window is closing to turn climate change around

The nature expert shares her fears for environmental future.

Jane Goodall.
Jane Goodall.

By Francesca Gosling

The window is closing to make a substantial difference to climate change and everyone must do their bit to limit its impact, conservationist Dr Jane Goodall has warned.

The founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace is the subject of a new documentary about her life living with chimps in the African jungle in the 1950s.

The primatologist, now 83, was a 26-year-old secretary when her boss Dr Louis Leakey sent her to observe chimpanzees in the wild and the film pulls from 100 hours of footage by cameraman Hugo van Lawick, who would go on to become her husband.

Goodall and Van Lawick.

Dr Goodall said she has been horrified by the destruction to their habitats and believes not enough is being done to protect them.

She told the Press Association: “We are working very hard, the Jane Goodall Institute, to do more and to persuade more people and there are people working on it but it’s never enough because the foresters are working away too, cutting down the forests to sell the wood or for mining, it’s an ongoing fight.”

“The real tragedy is the way that the chimp numbers have decreased since I began the study, the forests have been clear cut in some cases and this is why I’m travelling 300 days a year now, seeing that we have got to try desperately hard to save what is left.

She added: “In some countries climate change is having a major effect on forests and on chimp foods and things like that, in drier countries.

“I’m hoping this film will encourage a lot of people to realise how important it is to try to bring back something that, looking back on it, is almost like looking at paradise.”

Goodall meets a young chimp.

Dr Goodall said she still has reasons to be hopeful, but it will involve contributions from around the world.

She added: “We are in the state where the window is closing on our being able to make a substantial difference in slowing down climate change, protecting the remaining wildlife, and that is why we are working so hard on our youth programme because we need young people to be better stewards than we have been.

“We need a new mindset, which isn’t concentrating on material goods.

A young Goodall.

“We need money to live but, as Gandhi said, it goes wrong when we live for money.

“Young people are responding and the projects that are being done by about 100,000 groups around the world are amazing, that’s my biggest hope for the future.

“I do not believe we have reached the point of no return, some scientists do, and maybe it’s wishful thinking but I’ve been so impressed by places we have destroyed that have once again become filled with life and the incredible people doing amazing projects and also the technology that is enabling us to live in greater harmony with nature.

“I have reason to be hopeful but we have all got to do our bit. We have all got to start thinking about the choices that we make every day. Are the things that we buy being made by harming the environment or cheap slave labour or something like that?”

:: Jane is in UK cinemas on November 24 and on National Geographic in the new year.

PA Media

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