Dr. Jane Goodall, world renowned conservationist and United Nations Messenger of Peace, faced a full crowd at Moby Arena on Wednesday night to deliver the 2007 Monfort Lecture “A Reason to Hope.”
“We’re destroying this planet,” Goodall said in her lecture. “But I still have reasons to hope.”
Goodall’s lecture focused on her start as a young animal lover who once slept with earth worms and camped out in chicken coops, all the way to her first trip to Africa where she first began to study chimpanzees, the animals that would become her life’s work. Goodall said a day she will never forget was when she first witnessed a chimpanzee modifying a natural object to use as a tool.
“This was my big breakthrough,” Goodall said. “Up until that point, we thought only humans had the ability to use tools. Now, we either had to redefine humanity or accept that chimps were human.”
Chimpanzees are the closest genetic match to humans, with a DNA structure that differs by only 1 percent. Interspecies blood transfusions are possible and Goodall discovered that chimpanzee immune systems are so similar to human immune systems that chimps are susceptible to all transferable human diseases.
“Like us, chimpanzees have a dark side. But also like us, they are capable of compassion, altruism and love,” Goodall said.
The crux of Goodall’s speech, however, was not chimpanzees, but rather a focus on humans.
“The thing that makes us human is spoken language,” Goodall said. “Our ability to think, to plan for the future, tell stories of the past, to discuss an idea and to contribute knowledge.So how is it that we, an extraordinarily intelligent species, are destroying our only hope for the future, the Earth?”
Goodall’s speech resonated with senior natural resources major Lindsay Paulding.
“I was inspired by her optimism,” Paulding said. “After all the horrible things we’ve done, she is still pulling for people to do the right thing. I think that is amazing.”
Dr. Bill Farland, CSU’s vice president for research, was pleased with the choice of Goodall as the 2007 Monfort lecturer.
“I thought she was great,” Farland said. “She had a great message to bring to the community and the community obviously responded.”
Clara Lenoch, a first grader at Dunn Elementary was chosen to wave a recycled white crane at the ceremony.
“I was a little nervous,” Clara said, of standing onstage with Goodall.
But for Goodall, the courage of youth with the human brain and the resilience of nature are simply more reasons to hope.
“I travel 300 days a year,” Goodall said. “And I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t believe there was hope for the future. It lies in our hands, and it’s up to us. Humanity can rise to the challenge and make this world better. We must. We will.”
Staff writer Hilary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org