Dr. Jane Goodall was in the European Parliament on Monday (22 November) to talk to children of 37 nationalities from schools in Brussels. She talked about chimpanzees, the importance of conserving the environment and ensuring the future. "We haven't inherited the Planet from our parents, we borrowed it from our children," she told us in an interview before the conference when we also asked some questions from EP fans on Facebook.
Dr Goodall, you are in the EP but not to address MEPs, you are here to address a very different crowd, which is more interesting to you?
Yes, I'm going to be addressing young people, children from many different areas. Of course, it is important to address the Chamber too. The world is in such a mess, we have inflicted so much harm on it that we need to work from the top as well as from the bottom. But I'm certainly working very hard to developing our youth programme "Roots & Shoots".
What are the key messages you are going to deliver today?
That although we have harmed their future, there is a lot they can do. It's about time that we all get together, the elders and the youth and start healing some of the scars that we have inflicted.
Environmental protection and biodiversity are key subjects for the UN climate change conference in December in Mexico. What is your message to participants?
The message is that one of the most important things we can do to slow down climate change, and one of the most economically effective, is to protect tropical rainforests. As we cut down the forests, we release CO2, and then burning releases more, the forest itself is sequestering CO2.
Another message is to address intensive animal farming. Vast areas of forests are cut down to provide places to grow grain, more and more people eat more and more meat, they want cheap meat. The animals are fed unnatural diets so they produce huge amounts of methane gas which is a big contributor to the greenhouse effect. Cruelty aside, this intensive farming is incredibly damaging to the environment and to human health.
A question from Charlotte Biddle, an EP fan on Facebook: "As a UN messenger of peace what do you feel are the most important messages to convey regarding the environment and wildlife?"
The most important message is that environment is part of our future. So many people think it's a question of either or. Either it's human development or it's environmental protection. If we don't protect our environment and our natural resources, the future of our children is in jeopardy. There is a saying, "We haven't inherited the Planet from our parents; we borrowed it from our children". We've been stealing, stealing, stealing, and here we are, the most intellectual people ever to have walked on the Planet, and with this incredibly complex brain of ours we destroyed our only home.
It's been said that if everybody on the Planet had the standard of living of the average European, we would need up to 5, even 6 new planets. We don't even have one new planet. So we must use this complex brain of ours and start making wise decisions, based on how these decisions will affect people in the future, now how they affect us now.
Dinesh Kumar (EP fan on Facebook): What can common people do to protect biodiversity, after Homo Sapiens (supposedly wise man) destroyed a good part of it?
People often ask me: "What can I do?" The problems are so huge in the world that people feel helpless, and when you feel helpless you just don't do anything. Everyone leaves it to the scientists and the politicians, as "it is their problem, not mine". But I always say "just spend a few minutes every day thinking about the consequences of the choices you make - what you buy, what you eat, what you wear, how you get from A to B". Some people cannot afford to make the right choice but there are millions of people who can, and everyone can make some of the right choices.
Danielle Demos (EP fan on Facebook): Indigenous delegates to the Fifth World Parks Congress, Durban, South Africa in 2003 said, “First we were dispossessed in the name of Kings and emperors, later in the name of state development, and now in the name of conservation.” What would be your answer to them?
My answer is that I'm with them 100%. We work with indigenous people in several parts of the world. They have been abused, dispossessed; they were the stewards of their land. Fortunately in many places they begin to find their voice again. I'm so deeply impressed by the indigenous people who stand up against these forces who would dispossess them, even to the risk of their lives, to try a find a way for them to continue to be stewards of their land and to protect it from the rapacious greed of the rest of the world.
This article first appeared on the European Parliament website where a short video clip is also available.
You can also watch the video of all of Dr. Jane's address.