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Jane Goodall speaks out

Scientist offers thoughts on environment, war

10/10/02

Jane Goodall, one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century, offered a vision of hope for saving the world's deteriorating environment to a well-attended audience last night at the Cintas Center. She also shared some of her experiences working with chimpanzees in the Gombe National Forest in Tanzania, Africa, the need for establishing a global vision and even the possibility of war with Iraq. “We [at the Jane Goodall Institute] do not believe in change through dropping bombs,” she said. Goodall’s visit to Cincinnati is part of a new exhibit and Omnimax film, "Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees," which opens Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Cincinnati Museum Center. The exhibit and film detail the four decades she's spent working with chimpanzees and how these animals "break down the divide between humans and animals," she said. "The chimpanzee has helped science realize that we are part of the animal kingdom," she said, pointing to the chimpanzee's capacity for aggression, love and compassion within their communities. She also discussed at length the need for a new global vision. "Traveling around the world, I've met many high school and university students who have lost hope and feel that we have compromised their future," she said. "We have." And, she outlined reasons for hope, namely, the potential of the human brain for problem solving, the resilience of nature, the energy of people working for change and the indomitable human spirit. She insisted that, “more and more people are getting tired of the materialistic rat race,” and that, “we have got to stop leaving [social change] to the politicians and the so-called decision-makers.” Goodall now heads up the Jane Goodall Institute, which works for the preservation of forests and their animal populations, particularly in Gombe. She discussed the institute's program to fight deforestation and its contracts with governments, business and local communities to protect wildlife. She has also developed the Roots & Shoots Program for youth. Inspired by the events of Sept. 11, the program's mission is to foster respect and compassion for all living things, to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs and to inspire each individual to take action to make the world a better place for animals, the environment and the human community. It now has chapters in 60 countries. Last night, children from Cincinnati area schools presented bound books of art to Goodall to show their participation in the program. Her talk last night benefited the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.