Before the pandemic, Jane Goodall traveled three hundred days a year to speak to the public about the climate crisis. “I used to do, like, three days in the Netherlands, three days in Belgium, three days in France,” Goodall, who is eighty-seven, recalls recently. In China or Australia, “it would be, like, two weeks, where they would spread me across their country.” Everywhere she went, she met young people who were “angry, depressed or just apathetic, because, they told me, we have compromised their future and they feel there is nothing they can do about it”, she writes in her twenty-first and most recent work, “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times”. Amidst floods and wildfires, impassibility and ecological heartache, the question she was asked most often was “Do you honestly believe that there is hope for our world?” “
She does, and she will tell you why. “The Book of Hope,” which she wrote with Douglas Abrams and Gail Hudson, is structured as a dialogue in which the naturalist (Ph.D., DBE, A Messenger of Peace) plays with the darkest fears. hold for our sick planet. Stories of the human intellect and the indomitable spirit abound. Also, the resilience of nature and the power of young people. Hope, she argues, is not just “passive wishful thinking” but a “crucial survival trait”. She noted, âIf you don’t have hope that your action will make a difference, why bother to do anything? You just become a zombie.
Goodall sat on a sofa in the living room of her childhood home in Bournemouth on the south coast of England. She had her hair in a ponytail and wore a Patagonia jacket with jeans, moccasins and whale print socks. Closed in the house since the start of the epidemic, Goodall has adopted an endless schedule of online engagements, zooming in on multiple countries each day. âVirtual Jane has been busier than ever,â she said. “It hurts my voice, my eyes.” She hasn’t taken a day off for a year and a half; she zoomed twice on Christmas, launched a podcast called “The Hopecast” and, in May, accepted the Templeton Prize (previous recipients include Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama). “But the most!” she said. âI have reached literally millions more people in many other countries. I was in Tanzania this morning, then I was in the Netherlands for an interview. Or is it Belgium?
Goodall shared the Gothic-style house (built in 1872) with his sister, Judy, Judy’s daughter and grandchildren, and an aging rescue whippet named Bean. This is not the first time that the family has taken refuge there. âIt was my grandmother,â she says. âMom, Judy and I came here when the war broke out. World War II. “In the garden, butterflies were spinning; Bean slept in an armchair. Growing up, there were always animals around,” she said. Dogs, cats, “a pair of turtles.” “Peter the canary, which flew all over the house Hamlet the hamster, who escaped and spent the rest of his life on the back of the couch, going out at night to eat.
In 1960, at the age of twenty-six, Goodall left England for Gombe National Park, Tanzania, to study animals in the wild. She took her mother with her. (âMum played a very important role.â) It was in Gombe that Goodall almost gave up hope. She would get up at dawn every morning, crawling through the forest with binoculars, looking for chimpanzees. She would return to camp unsuccessfully and depressed. Finally, a chimpanzee she called David Greybeard (“very handsome”) let her observe him using grass stems to collect termites, whose report prompted Goodall’s mentor to send an exuberant telegram. : âAh! We must now redefine man, redefine tools, or accept chimpanzees as humans! “
In the living room, Goodall checked the time: fifteen minutes until she needed to record a message for the French university students. She poured herself a drop of whiskey. âWhen my voice goes like that, it’s the only thing that works,â she said. (It was a lifeline when she got bronchitis in Davos.) Has she ever tired? âI care about the future, I care about animals, I care about trees, I care about children,â she said. “And I am stubborn and I will not give in. I will not be defeated by the Bushes and the Putins and the Bolsonaro, all those terrible, terrible people.”
Lately, Goodall had been working from an attic bedroom surrounded by objects that gave him hope: a photograph of David Greybeard, a Native American talking stick, a bell made from a defused landmine. She slowly walked up the stairs, raised the doorbell and rang the bell. âSpecial,â she said. She checked the time again. The French students nodded. ??