Planet Earth: It’s Still Not TOO Late to Save Our Home!

Quotes and ideas by Jane Goodall that will spur you into immediate action


You could say I’m obsessed with Jane Goodall, the 87-year-old British lady known for her crusade to preserve the natural world, and, in the process, save humanity.

Goodall is one of those rare humans who’ve tirelessly worked for a just cause for many decades, never compromised their ethics, and won people’s hearts in the process.

We all know (or at least most people agree) that human activity has wreaked havoc on our planet’s environment and climate. Yet how much is each one of us doing to combat climate change and environmental degradation? Way, way, WAY, too little.

What’s it going to take for us to start making changes, however small, in how we live?

For me, it took listening to Jane Goodall’s Masterclass, all 29 lessons.

I wish I could gift you and everyone on the planet this MasterClass. Seeing that I can’t, I’ll give you a taste of it through some of the words and ideas that stood out for me.

Realism is not incompatible with hope

“I have enormous fear for the future of this planet.”

“If people don’t make changes, then in 50 years time I’m glad that I won’t be here.”

We must constantly remind ourselves of the urgency of the problem, and it needs to appall us because it is appalling.

Surprisingly, though Goodall doesn’t minimize the extreme gravity of our planet’s situation, her message is one of hope. At 87, she continues to work tirelessly as a conservation activist. She does so because she sees reason for hope, especially when it comes to the enthusiasm she perceives in young people.

Realism is not incompatible with hope. Both are necessary to spur us into immediate action. In Goodall’s view, the fact that the planet’s situation is dire doesn’t mean we should throw our hands up in the air and do nothing.

Human intellect comes at a high price

“Because without any question we are the most intellectual creature that ever walked on planet Earth, how is it possible that we’re destroying our only home?”

Yeah, we humans are ridiculously intelligent in some ways and outrageously stupid in others. Even as we fly a helicopter on Mars (exciting indeed), we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by destroying our very home!

We must not seek happiness, comfort, and immediate gratification all the time, at any cost. Being the most intellectual creature in the world means this pursuit will never satisfy us. Instead, it has lead us to adopt a wasteful lifestyle that ignores the effects of our choices on the world around us.

Our high intellect comes at a price: we must seek purpose in our lives. Deep fulfillment for us humans only comes from pursuing causes greater than ourselves. As Goodall urges:

When it comes to the environment, our purpose must be to help safeguard the only home we all share.

“I believe honestly and truly that it’s only when we learn to operate with head and heart in harmony that we can achieve our true human potential.”

When you operate with your head only, there’s no room for empathy, only for processes and results you think will maximize the bottom line. You don’t even stop to think, is there another way?

“It seems there has been some disconnect between the clever mind and the human heart, love and compassion.”

It’s time to let go of our sense of superiority

“There is not a sharp line dividing us from the other animals… We are part of an amazing animal kingdom, and there’s still so much to learn about it — and about ourselves.”

One of the most striking things about Jane Goodall is her love for and empathy toward all living creatures.

All through her lessons, she tells little stories about various animals: the pet pig who traversed a hedge and alerted people its owner was in trouble; David Graybeard, the chimpanzee that first allowed Jane into his world; the little male sparrow at the Denver airport trying to impress a mate; the elephants that go crazy when bees fly up their trunks.

Her eyes light up with joy and amazement when she tells these stories. She senses our unity with all living things at her core and is able to convey this feeling clearly.

We must abandon the notion that it’s us humans and then everything else.

It’s time to let go of our sense of superiority. We should never lose sight of the fact that we’re members of the animal kingdom. It’s a truth that should inspire us to learn more about its secrets, and, in the process, about ourselves:

“We have been far too arrogant. The animal kingdom of which we are a part is filled with secrets.”

We must compromise and find common ground

“If you don’t talk to people and if you don’t try and find a way to communicate with them at some level, how can you expect there to be change? There will never be change.”

We need to put our differences aside and communicate with the intention of finding common ground. Jane Goodall is an expert at this.

She has studied how chimpanzees communicate with one another for all manner of functions, such as repairing relationships after a fight, alerting others to danger, and conveying pleasure and fear.

We humans possess a hugely complex and magical language, both verbal and written. Let’s put it to better use.

Goodall has worked closely with oil company executives, villagers who clear the forest to grow crops, scientists who did research on chimpanzees living in deprivation, workers in zoos where animals were kept in deplorable conditions. As she says:

“As long as you don’t compromise your own values, as long as you don’t do anything that you know is wrong, a series of compromises is ok.”

Jane Goodall urges us to listen to the needs and concerns of others to find a way into their world and find solutions. We can’t just condemn and be outraged, and only communicate with those who agree with us.

There’s something everyone can do

“We’ve let the planet down. There’s no question about that and we owe it to future generations to work with them to try and heal some of the harm we’ve inflicted.”

I, for one, feel guilty.

Those of us in mid-to-late adulthood, in particular, must take responsibility and think about the state of the planet we’re leaving for future generations.

If you’re a youth coach, think about your team members.

If you’re a teacher, think about your students.

If you’re a catechist or religious leader, think about the children in your congregation.

If you’re a parent, think of your children and their children.

If you’re none of the above, think of yourself as a child.

Promote leaders with environmentally responsible agendas, donate to reputable conservation non-profits, volunteer with local environmental initiatives, expose children to the beauties of the natural world, become better educated about conservation and the environment, make lifestyle changes…

“Every single one of us, whether we want to or not, makes a difference of some sort every single day.”

We tell ourselves all the time: how will what I do make a difference if 7 billion other people don’t change their behavior?

First, this is an easy way out. It’s no more than a bad excuse to do nothing.

Second, it isn’t true that no one else is changing their behavior. A lot of people are. Be part of the group that’s changing, and the group will grow and grow.

Third, even if you don’t want to, you will make a difference. Your choices will determine what type of difference you make.

Jane Goodall’s message is empowering. Every single day we have a new opportunity to do good, to grow our positive impact, to influence others in a beneficial way.

The more privileged and wealthy you are, the more choices you have.

As Goodall affirms:

“We have got a window of time.”

Share Article

10 Quotes that Will Give You a Cosmic Perspective

From astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s MasterClass

Image by beate bachmann from Pixabay

I’m addicted to MasterClass.

You know how cooking shows can be entertaining even if you’re a terrible cook and you’re never going to prepare anything they’re showing?

MasterClass lessons are sort of like that. I know next to nothing about sales, hostage negotiations, wine appreciation, space travel or astrophysics, but the classes entertain and fascinate me.

In astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s MasterClass Scientific Thinking and Communication, you get to learn about cool stuff such as leap seconds (we’ve had  27 since 1972), the precise shape of the Earth (oblate spheroid, somewhat like a pear), and how planets are discovered.

Beyond such facts, though, the class is about human thought and the vital role of scientific thinking on human progress, sound decision-making, and perspective-taking.

Here are some quotes that got me pondering.

“The urge to feel special knows no bounds.”

“The cosmic perspective undoes this urge to feel special but it undoes it in a way that rebuilds it better than it was before.”

“The cosmic perspective teaches you that you’re special not for being different from everyone else but for being the same.”

There’s nothing wrong with feeling special. After all, not even identical twins are exactly alike. The combination of genes and environment makes for infinite possibilities. The problem is when being special is framed only in terms of how we’re different and unique, and when uniqueness leads us to think of ourselves and those like us as better than. This thinking is at the root of the human tribal mentality and the tendency of groups of people to dehumanize other groups.

The cosmic perspective frames being special in terms of how all humans (and all living creatures!) are alike and what’s common among us.

We’re all the product of cosmic events. We’re all made of stardust.

“Nature is the ultimate judge, jury and executioner. You can argue all you want but if nature doesn’t agree with you, you’re wrong. Whatever bias you’re bringing to the table, nature will decide.”

Nature is one of the only forces that doesn’t fail to humble us. Both in their beauty and wrath, natural phenomena have the power to elevate and terrify us. A magnificent sunset, a perfect ocean wave, a ravaging hurricane, or an unstoppable avalanche — they produce awe and remind us that our power and knowledge are limited.

Nature is an entity that proves us wrong. We obstinately argue against its truths at times. Think of Galileo, considered a heretic and persecuted by the Catholic Church for contradicting the Bible. Eventually, Galileo was proven right. Nature decides and prevails and is more powerful than any religious or political institution created by humankind. We should never bet against it!

“The day you stop making mistakes is the day you can be pretty sure you are no longer in the frontier.”

Though deGrasse speaks of the “moving frontier of science,” the same applies to any frontier of human endeavor. Olympic world records, for instance, are broken at every Olympics because those at the frontier of sports keep trying new techniques and finding better ways to train.

In the process of expanding any frontier, we necessarily make mistakes because we can’t know exactly what will move the frontier further afield.

New knowledge lies at the edge of the frontier. Only those willing to make mistakes can be on the frontier long enough to expand it.

“Search engines on the internet are the epitome of confirmation bias.”

Confirmation bias: the tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with one’s existing beliefs.” 

We are all subject to cognitive biases, confirmation bias being one of the most common. We actively seek to read, watch and listen to information that confirms our beliefs, and discard conflicting evidence that lands on our laps.

No one who’s convinced climate change is real would Google the following: “Proof that climate change is unrelated to human activity.”

Even if you wanted to be neutral in the wording of your search, the algorithm will favor the types of results you have clicked on in the past! Such results will obviously favor your existing beliefs. Search engines rely on and intensify our biases. I, for one, find this deeply troubling.

“If you want to get closer to objective truths, you have to be able to say to yourself, ‘I was wrong.’”

It’s so hard to do. We hold on to our beliefs for dear life and are drawn to people who speak with a sense of certainty.

Beware of anyone who never admits to making a mistake and who always blames others for anything that happens within their specific area of influence.

Such an individual isn’t interested in the truth.

“If someone keeps repeating something to you, chances are they want you to believe it without analysis, without judgment.”

This is not always the case of course, though it often is when it comes to politicians or anyone trying to manipulate.

“Climate change is real.” “Climate change is a hoax.” We hear opposing statements such as these over and over. One clue as to which is more likely to be false or true is whether those making the statement are asking you to believe it just because they say so, or by providing scientific evidence that has been replicated, peer-reviewed, and on which scientific consensus exists.

“Writing is the ultimate form of communication because it passes through time. You can talk to someone 100 years from now when they read your writing.”

As a writer, of course I love this quote. It makes writing sound like time travel!

You just never know who’ll come across something you wrote way after you’re gone, and if you’ll get people in the distant future to change, do or understand something because of what you wrote a century ago.

“A theory is the highest level of understanding we have of anything in this world. It explains what we know has already happened, gives us an understanding of what is happening, and gives predictive power of things that have yet to happen.”

Whoa. Isn’t that something? A scientific theory must apply to the past, present and future. Now that’s a cosmic perspective.

It’s no small thing for a scientific proposition to become a theory. Take the Theory of Evolution. It explains the diversity of living forms, why species die out and change, and gives us a notion of which species may adapt to or survive environmental changes.

“What is wisdom after all? It’s the distilled essence of knowledge once you’ve forgotten all the details.”

Wisdom, in adults, comes from the ability to analyze — deeply, honestly and humbly — accumulated knowledge and experience.

Wisdom requires a cosmic perspective, one that teaches that:

“You’re special not for being different from everyone else, but for being the same.”

🎧 YouTube link, for those who like to watch and listen.

Share Article