Reasons for Hope

Greta Thunberg and Dr. Jane Goodall

Greta Thunberg and Dr. Jane Goodall

In a compelling example of how women hold up perhaps more than half the sky, two leaders are on the road calling for urgent action to address the dangers of global warming and the threat of climate change to the biodiversity of nature on which our life on this planet depends.

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager and climate activist, is touring Europe and “speaking truth to power” fueled by the huge response to her School Strike For Climate movement which saw 1.5 million school children take to the streets in protest back in March.

Dr. Jane Goodall, world-renowned primatologist, conservationist, UN Messenger of Peace, and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute (now in 50 countries), is travelling the globe to bring her message of the importance of living sustainably to millions of people. Despite having recently celebrated her 85th birthday, Dr. Jane (as she is known to many of her followers), travels more than 300 days a year to raise awareness of the critical importance and inter-connectedness of the natural world, the damage being done by humanity and, yet, the reasons we still have for hope.

My job is to give people hope, for without it we fall into apathy and do nothing.

Despite the almost 70-year age gap between them, Greta and Dr. Jane are united in their drive to raise awareness of the existential crisis facing humanity and bring pressure to bear on leaders to act.

Report after report of dangers to the future of life on earth can lead to despair. But Dr. Jane in her speeches, media interviews and presentations, talks about five reasons for hope to help us confront and address the challenges.

  1. Young People.

    Dr. Jane believes in the power of young people to take the initiative to help solve the problems confronting the planet. And she has long held this view. She started the youth leadership and conservation education program called Roots & Shoots in Tanzania in 1991. The program, run by Jane Goodall Institutes around the world, is now in 50 countries and includes 150,000 students.

  2. The Human Brain.

    As humans evolved we developed a powerful brain of considerable intellect. But Dr. Jane says we have “lost the connection between our brains and our hearts.” She says we must rediscover this connection, show compassion for animals and the natural world and harness our intellect to create solutions to the current crisis such as clean, green energy.

  3. Resilience of Nature.

    Nature has a remarkable ability to recover from the damage we are doing to the environment and the natural world. But we must stop our abuse of the planet’s natural systems and give Mother Nature a chance to rebound.

  4. Power of the Internet.

    Through technology we have an unprecedented ability to communicate around the globe and we must harness this power to share common solutions to address climate change, save endangered species and protect the biodiversity of nature.

  5. The Indomitable Human Spirit.

    Dr. Jane says it is inspiring what people can achieve when they have a common mission or when they are facing adversity. She also says each person can make a difference and the cumulative effect of the small choices of millions of people has the power to make a huge difference and affect future generations.

Dr. Jane says it’s about taking action. And she advises don’t think “global”, think “local”. Tackle a problem where you can make and see a difference. This is what the Roots & Shoots program is all about where young people focus on addressing issues within their own communities. And if you know there are others doing the same, then you can think globally.

She also believes compassion should be extended to all species and is very concerned about the treatment of farmed animals, especially in factory farms, and the damage that industrialized agriculture is doing to our environment and the natural world. A vegetarian for decades, she says that when she sees meat on a plate, she sees, “fear, pain and death.” She says that a child has a natural compassion for animals and nature and that all of us must recapture that feeling.

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