In the second part of my interview with the legendary Dr. Jane Goodall, we discuss aging, veganism, zoos, aging and her wishes for the future. For part one, click here.
Marianne Schnall: Tell us more about Roots & Shoots and its work to educate and empower youth. What does it aim to do?
Jane Goodall: What it aims to do, first of all – its main message is that that everyone of us makes an impact on the world every day. And so it’s helping individuals to understand that though they may feel their small actions don’t make a difference – which if it was just them, they would be right probably. But it’s not just them and cumulatively our small decisions, choices, actions, make a very big difference. So that’s one thing. The other is that it’s youth driven, so it’s young people sitting around either on their own or at their high school or university, or sitting with the teacher if they’re children in Kindergarten or first grade, or with parents, or with older children – it’s doesn’t matter – thinking about the problems around them, talking about them, and then between them choosing three projects that they feel would make things better: one for people, one for animals, and one for the environment. So, in almost any group of kids, you get those passionate about animals, you get some who want to really, really do community service for people and you have some who want to recycle or clean streams or something like that. So every child can become involved in a project which they helped to choose and about which they feel passionate.
And it’s working – I mean, it’s changing lives. I can’t begin to tell you how many lives it’s changing. I think this is why it’s growing so fast.
MS: How do we balance the needs of human beings and animals? Human beings tend to think only about our own needs and assume that everything on this planet is just here to serve us.
JG: They do. Well, it’s very hard, I mean, first of all that’s the importance about educating people who animals really are and that they are not just automatons and they deserve an inning as much as we do. And secondly there are too many people on the planet and everyone’s afraid to talk about family planning, but that’s interfering with people’s right to choice to have a huge family. Well, I don’t think anybody has the right to a huge family. There’s already more people on the planet than our natural resources can even support, and if everybody were to have a high standard of living, we need three or four or five new planets to provide the resources. And this cannot be, so something has to change.
And I get also upset when so many people say there all sorts of problems in Africa and India where they have these big families. They don’t realize that 10 children in rural Tanzania will use less natural resources in a year than one middle class American child. People don’t think like that, you see.
MS: Do you see hypocrisy in how we sometimes treat domesticated animals such as our pets over wild animals? An example would be someone who pampers their pet hamster in one room, yet kills rodents in another part of their house using traps and poison.
JG: Yes, that’s very true. And you get the white coated scientist who has a dog at home who’s part of the family who understands ever word I say – but then he goes and puts on his white coat and does unspeakable things to dogs in the name of science. There’s a real schizophrenia. Yes, we are very peculiar [laughs].