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Jane Goodall - "nobody's doddery Aunt Jane, but a titan of our age" by Jed Marson

December 1, 2020 10:16 AM
By Jed Marson

Jed Marson (Jed Marson)Dr Jane Goodall's talk to a GLD Fringe at the LibDem Conference, September 2020.

Jane spoke of the similarities between chimpanzees and humans - with 98.6% of DNA shared with us. They kiss, hug, there's the darker side, a primitive war - all in their capability, as in ours, but Jane stressed their capability for feelings and how they have been let down by us - her research showed HIV started in a bush meat market in Africa in chimpanzees sold as meat.

She had spoken to us at the Green LibDem conference and hearing her for a second time reminded me why there are countries with single and double digit Covid-19 deaths. Those have experienced pandemic 'bullets' we have dodged - MERS was camel meat in a Middle East market. We know all about SARS and Covid-19 now, from wild animal meat markets. The sad tone of "when will man learn?"

You'll find that Jane is more than a scientist - her work on chimpanzees has taken her round the world, to places threatened by human incursion that upsets the fine balance of nature protected by indigenous communities for millennia. You will listen more carefully I hope, to be able to recite the name given to her by Native Americans - Sister Mother Earth - and you will talk of "how will the earth feel, once humankind is gone...?"

Jane went on to talk about meat in general and specifically about the sentient being aspects of pigs, which she reminded us are as clever as dogs and, like cattle, capable of fear and feelings. If you still eat meat regularly after watching once, I recommend a second viewing because your children probably won't want you to.

Jane is now in her 80s, lives in Bournemouth and travelled widely until Covid-19. Most recently she has been to see great ice floes breaking into the sea in winter, where the local fishermen say even in summer it did NOT happen. There is the ying and yang of David Attenburgh's visual feasts of the possible and Goodall's words of caution if we don't try a damn sight harder. Starkly reporting her conversations with people whose homes have disappeared into the ocean. Others who have to defend against high tides for the first time.

Jane is unequivocal about wildfires threatening the west of the US - Nappa Valley vineyards looking like being burnt out. Now, Jane says, of what used to be forest coast to coast in Africa, a few trees are left, from the East coast just a few trees on the steeper slopes - the rest gone for charcoal or fires, then her sanctuary and parks and more devastation across to West Africa.

During the chat afterwards, you realise the presence of greatness has a mark on the young. Liz Jarvis, another GLD member mentioned she had visited Jane's chimpanzee sanctuary in Kenya as a younger person, near reverently.

This is nobody's doddery Aunt Jane, but a titan of our age. She started the Jane Goodall Institutes in 1991 and they are now in 65 countries. Her Roots and Shoots programme started with 12 students. She found that they were successful where other NGOs failed, because she let people choose the thing they were fired up about including:

Dynamite fishing


Street children

Stray dogs

Whatever the individual wanted to pursue they were helped. Themes today are:

The focus is:


Junk food - helping people to afford better food choices

Better lifestyle - less impact

Family planning - where oddly the impact is so great the men come up and ask for a vasectomy.

"Every individual makes some impact on the environment and we can choose."

Jane referenced:

Ecosia as an internet browser as they use the advertising money to plant trees

JGI - Jane Goodall Institute

Roots and Shoots for the youngest to get involved at their level

She asks us to live life and tell stories. Use stories to get across the message better than banging drums.


Click here for Jane Goodall talking at Green Lib Dems virtual conference June 2020 (Brian Mathew)Jane Goodall's GLD fringe Video and transcript