News - June 3, 2014

Blog: Will there be hope for Gorilla?

This week, I want to thank the people who invited Jane Goodall to campus. What a legend!

When I was a kid, I looked up famous people who were born on my birthday, the 16th of January. Nothing much that impressed me. Some Diane Fossey who was  a Gorilla researcher. Apparently over time I got things mixed up, and I thought that I was born the same day as Jane Goodall, which didn't impress me much either.

Up until a couple of weeks ago when she gave her lecture on 'Sowing the Seeds of Hope' in the Orion building. Her stories are vivid and astonishing and funny. And like Antony Hopkins in 'Instinct' she has had different teachers than most of us – Apes. Which is why, I suppose, she adresses all those uncomfortable truths about the egoistic, delusional and downright dumb way we live.

I get aggravated when environmentalists like her are ridiculed and labeled as treehuggers. Seeing Dr. Goodall in Wageningen is great, because her message is something I do miss around here. A sense of responsibility, not just for us, not just to feed 9 billion people.

But to think of all generations to come. And that it's little use if we prosper as a species, but our planet around us is dying. This is our only home in the vast vacuum of space and if we don't all start hugging trees and get our shit together, there will be nothing left, but cockroaches. 

Dr. Goodall reminds us that we are not the pinnacle of evolution, not God's greatest creation. Merely an intelligent ape, only one percent genetically different to chimps, that can go to Mars.

'To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life' is what the banner says. If we want to live up to the responsibility of stewardship for this planet, we have to understand that we won't survive by just increasing the quality of life for ourselves and some livestock.

From what I know about her now, she's become a real hero to me, who understands that brain and heart need to work together to produce synergy.  Today I'd be more than proud to share my birthday with her.