This Earth Day, Dr. Goodall shares her reflections on the state of the planet and why we must each make Earth Day every day. Watch and share her message below!
Thoughts on Earth Day from the Jane Goodall Institute
On this Earth Day, we at JGI are thinking a lot about how precious and beautiful the tapestry of life on Earth is, and how fragile. A pale blue dot floating in the vastness of space and somehow filled with every variety of incredible biodiversity of life and all human existence, past and present. With this reflection, it is so clear why every day should be Earth Day. Now more than ever it is apparent in this Covid-19 world that we must never take for granted this interconnected green and blue planet, and that we have the opportunity, especially right now, to build a better, brighter world for all.
We’ve experienced tremendous change and loss since Earth Day last year, for many unfathomable and with great consequence. At the same time, we have demonstrated some of Jane’s most important reasons for hope – the resilience of nature and the indomitable human spirit. We have seen how left untouched, natural spaces can regenerate and be restored. We’ve also seen how much we can do through technology– to build community, to spur action, to inform, to inspire, and to innovate!
Dr. Goodall faced a total change – for the first time in decades she was not spending most of her time traveling to share her message with audiences around the world. Jane has made this her purpose – to give people hope that we can each individually and collectively make a difference. And so we made Virtual Jane – a chance to continue to connect Jane with all of you, and millions more of you, in almost every country. The Hopecast Podcast has been one of the most rewarding parts of Virtual Jane, sparking Jane’s own curiosity and sharing compelling stories and conversations with the people making our world better across industries. With this opportunity, we knew that so much can be achieved no matter the barriers if we don’t give up.
And something Dr. Goodall likes doing with these guests and conversations is to think about what lessons can we learn from challenges. We can take these lessons and build bridges to the future, and we have already begun. There have been incredible advancements to help improve our health and overcome the incredible tragedies of Covid-19. We’ve been confronted more than ever with our relationship to the natural world and the necessity of respecting our interdependence and connection to it. We’ve seen transformations in legislation that felt impossible prior to the pandemic to protect species and humans from the horrors of wildlife crime and the resulting zoonotic disease transmission.
We’ve also seen unparalleled acts of compassion and heroism on individual and community levels to support leaders that believe in facts, science, and issues like climate change, and who act on it. We’ve seen the ripples of change and recognition in the effort to fight for racial and social equity, in the necessary work to live in harmony with one another so that we may live harmoniously with the natural world we share.
But as these shifts in just a short period of time show great progress, they sit against the backdrop of existential threats like the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. As we overcome, we believe we have been given the necessary lens through which we finally see that we cannot go back, we must go forward towards a world in which the Earth is not seen as an abstract – not just a pale blue dot – but one teeming with diverse and magnificent life that we must protect.
And we humans, the most intellectual creature to have ever walked upon the Earth are responsible for its degradation and possible destruction. But, Jane has two more important reasons for hope – some of the most essential in our work today for tomorrow. One is the human brain – and we believe with our dedication, collaboration, and creativity fueled by this mighty brain, we can continue to progress and increase our investments in climate action. Our return to the Paris Agreement is a good example, as well as the efforts of campaigns like Trillion Trees to mitigate carbon and restore habitat for essential wildlife. We also must invest in efforts like ‘Tacare,’ JGI’s community-led conservation approach, which supports local people in the ownership of conservation decision-making and sustainable development. Additionally, we must further accelerate efforts to end intensive animal agriculture and move towards sustainable, ethical plant-based lifestyles and once and for all end wildlife crime. We can do this all around the world, and indeed we must!
Another, and one of Jane’s most treasured reasons for hope, is the passion and drive of young people committed to creating positive change. We have seen millions of young people drive change across issues, as young leaders and as conveners of coalitions. This is truly exciting as we have youth, like those in our Roots & Shoots program, engage in their communities seeking to address a range of issues, from fighting plastic pollution to mitigating homelessness and more. They are beacons and with every act of good, they lead the way for so many more.
Jane has often shared that it is only when the human heart and mind work together that we will reach our true potential. So, we leave you with this: Every individual really does make a difference. It’s up to you to choose what kind of difference you make. Use your heart, use your mind, and make the kind of everyday choices that speak to your values, your compassion, and a vision for a better world. We’ve imagined it, and we’ve already started to create it. If you try, and the many others watching this try, then millions of us have already made that future a possibility. Let’s work together to make it a reality as we commit to make every day Earth Day.
The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.