I admired Jane Goodall long before we ever met. I knew of her landmark work with chimpanzees in Gombe. I had read about her, read books written by her, but it was only when I got to spend more time with Jane a few years ago that I truly felt I was in the presence of one of the most impactful and important leaders on the planet. She chose to go to Tanzania at the age of 26 to study chimpanzees, and the research she conducted there, in the jungle at the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, ended up changing behavioral science forever.
Since then she has committed her life to environmental protection. Even now, at the young age of 85, Jane spends nearly every day spreading optimism and raising awareness worldwide; hers is a powerful message to protect the inherent rights of every living creature, to provide hope for future generations and to sound an urgent call against the greatest environmental threat of all—climate change. Anyone who has heard her speak, or heard her story, has been mesmerized by her life’s work and moved by her philanthropic legacy.
Postscript: At Time100’s inaugural banquet, Jane Goodall challenged members of her audience to use their ability to think big to come up with a bold plan to conserve earth’s limited resources and species–and fast. Though she brought toy animals on stage as visual aids, her subject was serious. “Deniers of climate, I want them to go to the Antarctic where the sea ice is melting faster than ever before,” she said, “and dump them in the middle of it.”
Webmaster’s Note: I met Jane Goodall on an island chimp reserve in Lake Victoria.