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Science & Tech

Humans & The Environment (Cont'd)

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 06:25 min

Dr. Jane shares the three main problems challenging the health of our planet and explains how we mustn't lose hope in the face of these seemingly impossible problems.

Dr. Jane Goodall
Teaches Conservation
Dr. Jane Goodall shares her insights into animal intelligence, conservation, and activism.
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It's pretty bad when we think back through human history how wealthy nations have moved in to the developing world and just taken over parts of the land. Think what's happened to the Native Americans. Think how they've been driven out of where they've been for hundreds of thousands of years and put on reservations. Think of the way people have been buying up the natural world like water resources, privatizing it so that ordinary people have to pay for something that should be free for everyone. And some people can't pay for it. And this is one of the big problems that we face today. And the gap between the wealthy and the poor is widening all the time. And this is why we get some of the political disasters that we've seen in recent years. It all ties down, I think it's all tied up with the exploitation of natural resources. I always get-- you know, I spend every year I spend time in Nebraska to see this incredible migration of the sandhill cranes. And they're with the snow geese and various other wood birds. It's one of the wonders of the world. And it's certainly reason for hope that there are still hundreds of thousands of wood birds and cranes flying through, building up resources for their long migrations to the far north. And every time I'm there it hurts to fly over that land. It hurts to drive along the roads. Because every where you see the center pivots. And this is machinery that drills down, down, down into the aquifer. It's going ever deeper because the levels in the aquifer are dropping. And this is drawing water to irrigate land that isn't suitable for growing crops like corn. And so this is stealing the water. And there are places, animals, environments, habitats that used to be flourishing and green and now they're dry and desert like because the water has been drained for agriculture so that farmers can become wealthy. And people are suffering. Animals are certainly suffering. People sometimes say, what do you see as the biggest problem on the planet today thinking about a sustainable future and how we're harming the planet now? And I see three main problems all interrelated. One, extreme poverty. Because if you're really poor and you're living in a rural area you're going to cut down the last trees because you need to grow food or because you need money and you want to make charcoal. You're going to do that because you have to. If you're living in an urban area and you're really poor you're going to buy the cheapest food because you have to. You're not going to be able to say how was it made? Was it ethically made? Should I be buying something else? You have to buy the cheapest if you're really poor. And as we all know, so many people on the planet today are living in extreme poverty. So that's one big problem that we have to address. And the second big problem is the unsustainable lifestyle...

Take action

There is still a window of time. Nature can win if we give her a chance. In her first ever online class, Dr. Jane Goodall teaches how you can conserve the environment. She also shares her research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. You'll learn how to act locally and protect the planet.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This class was moving, inspiring, and eye-opening. Thank you, Dr. Goodall, for sharing your experiences, perspectives, and hope. I am better for having listened.

Thank you Dr. Jane Goodall for sharing your passion and educating the people towards restoration of our home.

It's given me great reasons for hope, ideas to try and reaffirmation that my small daily efforts in conservation do add up and make a difference

I just love Dr. Goodall and her work. I've been fortunate enough to see her speak twice and actually was incredibly lucky to meet her once and speak with her. I've also run into her at a train station. She's an incredible woman, scientist, leader, teacher, and human being. What luck to be her contemporary! :)


Antonia T.

To value what we have (especially in rich countries -we are such privileged people!) is super important. And to teach our kids the value of things, to cherish what they have (food, clothes, education, a family, a house, love, toys) is crucial. I never think about human population as a problem. There is nobody in this planet that doesn't have the right to be here. The real problem is poverty, lack of education, waste, garbage, wars, and destruction. There should be laws for big companies with penalties for destroying the planet and producing kilos and kilos of waste and garbage. Individual cars should not be allowed. And it should be forbidden to kill animals. The slaughtering-manufacturing-food is horrific and nobody seems to care.

Bernardo F.

We are so unaware of the costs of everything we consume. I know of children, and even older people that don't know where the food they eat come from and by that I mean that some of them deny meat coming from animals! Or that fruits and vegetables come from the earth as magic! We are so used to having everything within reach that we sometimes forget that most vegetables are seasonal, that the soil requires nutrients, that animals have a life cycle. We have altered that in order to be comfortable.


I agree with Christopher. Dr. Goodall speaks from the heart, does research from the heart, and leads from the heart. She is the guru of her field.

Gilda C.

If we all take her lessons and apply it in life, talk to people and tell about her stories and reasons why we should help too! We can make a difference, starting eating less meat or finding sustainable places where to buy our food. There is so much we still can do, starting from now! Let's not be lazy, let's learn and read more and find ways to fix our problems. We can change people's daily routines, it's not easy but possible!

Diana H.

A discussion on the aquifer and how farms are stealing the water to grow crops in unsuitable areas and harming local habitats. Confronting our wasteful life style and our obsession with consuming. Jane talking about growing up during the war and learning to live simply when so many live in poverty.

Darya B.

I'm so glad that someone is helping to raise awareness of the corporate greed, environment and that animals are not very different from people with feelings and needs.


This was such a thought provoking lesson for me, and a very important one, too. All three of the problems that Dr. Jane mentioned are major concerns to our planet, and it’s such a disappointment that not enough people are talking about this and making that extra effort to figure out solutions for them. I care so much for nature, and about the world that we call our home, and hope against all the odds that the human race can pull it together, and find ways to give back to the earth that has done so much for us.

Svanfridur M.

I wholeheartedly agree with her finishing lines and find that too many people are disregarding them. I say the exact same things nearly every day to my classmates, yet all of them take either one of three positions: hopelessness, a disregard for such problems as ones for the far-off future, and a lazy uncaringness. We need to get off our high western thrones of wealth and learn that these things will affect not only the poor and wildlife but us as well - and soon! This whole situation and the attitudes people have are scarily similar to a passage from Frank Herbert's book, Children of Dune. "This is the age of the shrug," he writes, "Our civilization could well die of indifference within it before succumbing to external attack" (sound familiar?). We're all so worried about how annoying our coworkers/classmates are, whether we'll get that promotion, with this competition. Whether Russia will attack, North Korea will nuke us, or our trade war with China will ruin the economy, that we forget to see the issues within: the blatant disregard many Americans seem to have for others! This problem is at the root of the three issues she mentioned, as well as the fourth major thing I think should be added to the list: climate change. If we don't change this attitude, we won't survive, and that is truly what is at the root of these problems.


About the interrelated problems, I believe Jane is right, but there is something actually missing: the capitalist mode of production. And I'm not a communist, but a system that thrives on accumulation, endless exploitation and the procution of a reserve army has to be overcome if we want to embrace a way of living that is sustainable and respectful. Also, I believe that the most unsustainable habit we have is the consumption of meat. Caring about the environment necessarily involves stopping the carnist food chain!

Mia S.

"If we paid more for the food, we would think more about wasting it - if we actually put a price on food, the real price, the price to the environment, the price to the future of creating it, it would cost a lot more and we'd think more carefully about how much we buy. We'd treasure it. I was really fortunate to grow up during the years of the war in England, because we valued every mouthful we took. I think it was one egg a week, per person, and coupons for everything. All our clothes were second-hand. A square of chocolate was a treat. It took me a long time after the war to feel OK about buying a bar of chocolate, a whole bar. Now we don't think twice about it. More and more people are getting wealthy and therefore the unsustainable lifestyle is having an ever-greater impact. Third - human population growth. It's very difficult to think of these three interrelated problems and how we're going to solve them; sometimes it feels as though it's impossible to solve them. Yet, if we give up, if we lose that hope, then what about the future, for our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren? We must've give up, we must solve the problems."