Jane Goodall says small choices can make changes

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Nov 15, 2012 - 18:55
  • Updated : Nov 15, 2012 - 18:55
Renowned English primatologist and environmentalist Jane Goodall on Wednesday urged people to start with easy steps to conserve the environment, saying millions of small choices can effect changes.

The founder of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), which works extensively on conservation and animal welfare issues, said people around the world have begun thinking about the environment and our future but they usually feel helpless and give up because they look at all the problems such as war and environmental destruction.

“You hear this expression all the time: ‘Think globally, act locally.’ I want to turn it around because if you think globally you’ll become depressed. If you act locally and you see that you and your group are making a difference and then you know that hundreds of other young people around the world are doing the same, then that’s hopeful,” Goodall said during an interview with Yonhap News Agency and several other local news outlets.
Primatologist and environmentalist Jane Goodall speaks with reporters in Seoul on Wednesday, a day after she came to Korea to celebrate the launch of J&J Biodiversity Foundation. (Yonhap News)

“If we would just think about the consequences of all choices we make each day ― things we buy, things we wear and things we eat ― we make different choices and millions of small choices make the kind of changes we need.”

That is the spirit of the grassroots environmental movement her foundation leads, she stressed.

The movement, called “Roots and Shoots,” began with a group of 12 students in Tanzania in 1991 and has been voluntarily spread to 132 countries.

Considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best known for her 45-year study of the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.

The 78-year-old said the movement, which takes “neighbor, animal and environment” as its three keywords, has grown so fast because it is youth-driven.

“It’s about helping young people understand what the problems are and empowering them to take actions.”

She arrived in Seoul on Tuesday for a five-day visit to attend a ceremony to celebrate the launch of J&J Biodiversity Foundation, which she jointly established with Choe Jae-cheon, an eco-science professor at Seoul’s Ewha Womans University.

The foundation will run a grassroots environmental movement in South Korea while simultaneously acting as the JGI’s Korea branch, according to Choe.

During Goodall’s visit, her sixth to the country, she also planned to give lectures on the importance of conservation and to visit “Jedoli,” an illegally caught dolphin set to be released next year from a Seoul zoo.

The dolphin has drawn wide media attention in the country after Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon ordered it be returned to the wild after news broke it was illegally caught in waters off Jeju’s southern coast in 2009 and traded to the Seoul Grand Park for shows.

Goodall flatly dismissed claims that environmental destruction is inevitable for economic growth and warned against humankind’s endless pursuit of growth.

“My opinion is very simple,” she said. “If we carry on with the economic model we have of unlimited growth in a planet with finite resources, there will be a crash. That, along with even population growth, makes something so unsustainable, it is clear we can’t go on the way we have here.” (Yonhap News)