Primatologist Jane Goodall to sow wisdom in Ohio State event
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Updated: Friday, April 12, 2013 14:04
World-renowned British scientist Jane Goodall, best known for her research on chimpanzee behavior, will soon call on the Ohio State community to roll up its sleeves and help care for the animals and the planet.
“We have made a mess of this planet, what we’ve done to cut down forests and destroy habitats and cause species to become extinct,” Goodall said in an interview with The Lantern. “If we carry on like this it will be, I think, eventually irreversible, because I think although the planet’s resilient, the time will come when it’s not possible to repair the damage that we’ve inflicted.”
“Sowing the Seeds of Hope: An Evening with Dr. Jane Goodall” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom at the Ohio Union. The lecture is presented by the Ohio Union Activities Board and will focus on Goodall’s career as a primatologist and conservationist, as well as her message for what can be done to help make the planet a better place to live.
A pioneer in the behavioral research of chimpanzees, Goodall has discovered characteristics such as tool use and emotional expression that she said show just how closely related humans and chimpanzees are to one another.
“I would say (we’re) very, very close indeed, not much different in many ways,” Goodall said. “The big difference is we’re along the path to cultural evolution and our intellect has expanded hugely, so it’s very puzzling that when we’re so supposedly intelligent we’re destroying the planet, which is our only home.”
The lecture’s title is similar to Goodall’s upcoming book, “Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants,” due out April 2. Goodall said the book, which focuses on plants, trees, forests and ecosystems, carries the same message of hope as past books she’s written.
“Seeds can live for 2,000 years and, in the right conditions, they can still grow, and that’s a lot of hope for the planet that we’re damaging so much,” Goodall said.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that parts of Goodall’s new book had been plagiarized from Wikipedia, for which Goodall has reportedly apologized.
Goodall said she hopes the lecture will inspire audience members to take part in Roots & Shoots, a youth program organized through the Jane Goodall Institute that carries out community service projects and campaigns geared toward solving environmental and humanitarian issues.
“Hopefully people will be left with a feeling of hope and that their life is more useful than perhaps they thought it was as an individual,” Goodall said.
She said we, as humans, are the largest threat to animals today. After attending a conference on conservation in 1986, where she learned how chimpanzees are disappearing due to human influences, she was quickly thrust into the role of conservationist.
“It happened very suddenly, almost with no decision needing to be made by me,” Goodall said. “I left as an activist, just like that.”
Scott McGraw, primatologist, associate professor and undergraduate adviser to OSU’s anthropology department, said he recalls reading about Goodall’s early work in National Geographic and hopes her message about conservation will resonate with audience members just as tales of her research resonated with him.
“She’s such a wonderful speaker and she’s on the road so much, she does so much for increasing our awareness,” McGraw said. “She really is a champion for so many people. I hope her message can get out to as many people as possible because she’s extraordinary. She’s probably done more for primatology than any single person on the planet.”
Goodall said every individual can play a role in helping with conservation efforts by simply making wiser decisions on a day-to-day basis.
“The thing that everybody can do to help everything is to spend a little bit of time each day thinking about the consequences of the small choices we make, like what we buy, what we eat, what we wear, how we get from A to B,” Goodall said. “All of those things put together starts making a big difference.”