In front of 60,000 global citizens, Dr. Jane Goodall spoke chimpanzee on the Global Citizen Festival stage to roaring cheers earlier this evening.
Goodall is best known for her kinship with chimpanzees. For decades, she lived with, observed, and learned about them.
In the process, she utterly transformed the scientific and cultural understanding of the species.
She also transformed how humans perceive animals and nature in general. She helped popularize the idea that, rather than being separate and above the world, humans are intimately entwined with all that surrounds them.
And because of this closeness, she advocated throughout her life, humans must respect nature and allow it to thrive.
Goodall, who is now a United Nations Messenger of Peace and Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, brought this sense of unity and responsibility to the Global Citizen Festival stage when she called on the global audience to recognize the bonds between man and nature.
"Chimpanzees help prove there is no sharp line that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom," she said. "And yet knowing that they have emotions like ours, we stil show cruelty toward animals and each other. With our clever brains, how is it that we humans are destroying the environment?"
In particular, she pointed to climate change as the culmination of bad human decisions toward the planet and its inhabitants.
"We're burning fossil fuels, creating the greenhouse gases that cause extremes of temperature, more frequent and more destructive storms," she said. "Why do we pursue the wealth at the expense of future generations?"
Goodall is revered throughout the world as a pioneering researcher, but she reminded the audience of her humble roots, suggesting that anyone out there is capable of similar feats of drive and creativity.
Despite all the challenges in the world, Goodall has hope for the future.
“I have hope because of our clever brains, the resileince of nature, the indomitable human spirit and above all the commitment of young peopel when they're empowered to take action."
Joe McCarthy is a Content Creator at Global Citizen. He believes apathy is the biggest threat to creating a more just world and tries his hardest to stay open-minded and curious. Living in New York keeps him aware of how interconnected our world is, how every action has ripples.