Jane Goodall hopes pandemic creates movement 'of people who've never before breathed clean air in cities'

Jane Goodall hopes pandemic creates movement 'of people who've never before breathed clean air in cities'
© JENS SCHLUETER/DDP/AFP via Getty Images

British primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall said that she hopes a global movement of people calling for clean air will result from the global coronavirus outbreak, which has emptied cities of traffic.

In an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the launch of her new documentary, Goodall explained that images of cities such as Los Angeles with pristine skylines due to reduced smog levels could inspire Americans and others to have more respect for their environment.

"Hopefully we should emerge wiser [after the coronavirus pandemic ends]," Goodall told the AP.

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"I think there will be greater awareness of how we brought this pandemic on ourselves and that people will change. I hope there’s a groundswell of enough millions of people who’ve never before breathed clean air in cities, who’ve never been able to look up at night and see a clear sky with twinkling stars," she continued. "I hope that they’ll be enough of them to eventually force big business and politicians to ... stop carrying on with business as usual."

Goodall went on in the interview to call for wealthier people to recognize that they will need to live less lavishly in order to preserve the Earth's natural resources in a sustainable manner.

"Already, in some cases, we’re using up natural resources before nature can replenish them," Goodall explained. "So we cannot expect to survive very far into the future unless we make some change. ... We have to learn to do with less in the wealthier sections of society. Most of us have far more than we actually need."

"We need a different way of thinking about things. We need to realize that unlimited economic development on a world with finite natural resources and growing human populations can’t work," she said.

Goodall's comments come ahead of the release of her latest project, a documentary for National Geographic and Nat Geo WILD called "Jane Goodall: The Hope." The documentary follows 86-year-old Goodall's life as a scientist as well as her career as an environmental activist in recent years.

She recently spoke out after it was theorized that a live animal market in China was the source for the coronavirus outbreak, blaming disrespect for nature as a reason for the virus's spread.

"Because as we destroy, let's say the forest, the different species of animals in the forest are forced into a proximity and therefore diseases are being passed from one animal to another, and that second animal is then most likely to infect humans as it is forced into closer contact with humans," she said earlier this month.