Jane Goodall: Environment Shouldn't Be Victim of 9/11

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A: It's amazing. It is certainly growing wildly all across Tanzania. We have been trying to get it going in the francophone countries in Africa as well. Mainly because of the civil wars there, we have had trouble starting it. Lots of our initiatives have started and stopped because of the wars.

In Tanzania, we are seeing examples of trees being planted much more than ever before. Areas that were desert-like are becoming green. We are making it possible to grow trees by getting kids to change their schoolyards from trampled earth that is hot and horrible to shady groves where they can relax and do their homework and eat their meals. When people realize how beautiful it is, they want to do more of it. Now we're seeing some of it being taken into the community.

"Roots and Shoots" is spreading throughout Tanzania, also to the villages, and not only the cities. A huge amount of this work is being done by cooperating with U.S. AID and [Tanzanian] government officials.

Q: It seems, Jane, that you are becoming a spokesperson for all kinds of causes. How does it all come together?

A: Everywhere I go, interest groups come running out with facts about some environmental problem, asking me to talk about it. I always try to bring up points that have local relevance. I can easily manage one or two, provided they are not too extremist.

I got sucked into the reduction of nuclear weapons, and sucked into women's initiatives in developing countries. I have also been speaking out on some of the horrific things going on with low-frequency sonar testing being done [in the oceans] by the U.S. Navy [there are concerns that whales have become so disturbed that they have beached]. And there is the need to protect the Alaskan wilderness from drilling for oil.

All these issues have become very difficult since September 11. The big challenge is to keep people as passionate about these issues as they were before September 11.

Q: How did September 11 change the way people feel?

A: There is a real feeling in the United States that, because of the massive human suffering on September 11, it is really not patriotic to show you care for animals or the environment. This is such a monstrous mistake. If we lose interest in these matters, the planet will suffer so much that it will reach the point of no return—and then the terrorists will have finally won, although they will take themselves down with it.

I am trying to see how all these different pieces slot together like a jigsaw puzzle, to try to keep them in place and find the holes.

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