Jane Goodall Wants Us To Learn About The World, Not Fight Over It

Nick Visser
Jane Goodall turns 84 next month, but she has no plans to slow down. (Rafael Marchante / Reuters)

Jane Goodall gets depressed, too.

The primatologist, the subject of a new documentary, gets angry that humanity has killed off thousands of orangutans. She’s frustrated that we, in our quest to grow and conquer, have changed the planet forever.

“Goodness, if we could spend the same money learning about the world that we spend on wars.... We’re so stupid aren’t we?” she told HuffPost in a recent interview. “We seem to have lost the connection between our clever brains and our hearts.”

But Goodall, just a few weeks shy of her 84th birthday, still has faith.

“People desperately want hope. When you lose hope, what’s left in life?” she said. “We truly have harmed the world, but I still think there’s a window of time for us to try and turn things around. It can never get back to the way it was ... but we have to try.”

Goodall is one of the most recognized scientists of our time. She was one of several pioneering women in the 1960s who forged a pathway through lecture halls filled with men. Her seminal research on chimpanzees changed how we viewed animal intelligence. 

Goodness, if we could spend the same money learning about the world that we spend on wars. Jane Goodall

Those early days of Goodall’s research make up the bulk of a new documentary, “Jane,” that will air on National Geographic next week. Filmmakers sifted through more than 100 hours of never-before-seen footage of her research 50 years ago in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park. 

Today, Goodall travels about 300 days a year to share her unending passion for the natural world. Through speeches, appearances and interviews, she tries to combat feelings of frustration. She also launched an initiative called the Roots and Shoots program to empower young people to become environmentalists. She urges them to find a cause, join with friends to create a stir, no matter how big or small.

“They kept telling me: ’We feel like this because you’ve compromised our future, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Goodall said. “I didn’t agree with them,” she said fiercely. She added one of her favorite proverbs: ”‘We haven’t inherited this planet from our parents, we’ve borrowed it from our children.’”

Goodall has become an inspiration for many younger generations of environmentalists, some of whom burst into tears upon meeting her.

Goodall described her ability to inspire as a gift she was given and has worked hard to hone. But with her birthday imminent, she has no plans to slow down any time soon.

“I’m just nigh on 84. We don’t know how long we have, when you get to be 84,” she said. “I have to speed up rather than slow down.”

“If you’re going to die, let’s die fighting.”

Jane” will air Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, and 7 p.m. Central time on National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.