Dr. Jane Goodall, Roots & Shoots, and Polar Bears International

Posted Apr. 17th, 2009 by Daniel J. Cox

There are few people on this earth who truly represent kindness, goodness, and a sense of holiness. Fewer still are able to project that aura to the masses, inspiring others with a sense of wonder, respect, admiration, and a desire to follow. Meeting the standards of a saint, or maybe an angel, is a tall task. I’ve heard people like Mother Teresa, Ghandi, and the Dalai Lama described in such a manner, but until last week I had never met such a person—aside from my mother—who represents many of those traits within her own family. That changed when I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Jane Goodall at a recent workshop. See the photos from the workshop with Jane Goodall.

Dr. Jane Goodall waits patiently at a private reception during the Youth 4 Action conference in Ottawa, Canada.

I traveled to the beautiful city of Ottawa, Ontario, to work with my friends and colleagues, Julene Reed of Roots & Shoots and Robert Buchanan of Polar Bears International (PBI). PBI had volunteered to help Dr. Goodall’s prosperous and growing conservation group, Roots & Shoots, by hosting a workshop at Algonquin College. Roots & Shoots is described on its website as “The Jane Goodall Institute’s global network of youth taking action to make the world a better place. With tens of thousands of members in almost 100 countries, Roots & Shoots connects youth around the world who are creating positive change for people, animals, and the environment.”

My dear friend Robert Buchanan found of Polar Bears International with Jane Goodall and Roots and Shoots, Daniel J. Cox, Julene Reed, Apple Distinguished Educator at the Youth 4 Action workshop in Ottawa, Canada

PBI’s role at the conference consisted of a workshop for young people interested in how climate change will affect the Arctic and polar bears in particular. Since the main theme of the conference was water, it was important for us to connect the consequences of the world’s dwindling water supply with the effects this will have on polar bears and other species, including humans. Robert, Julene, and I talked to the students about how essential ice is for polar bears and how life for this species will end without it.  I compared the Arctic’s melting ice pack with the disappearing glaciers in the Himalayas. I emphasized that this warming climate will not just affect polar bears, but millions and millions of humans as well–humans in places such as India where they desperately need the water that flows from the glaciers in the surrounding mountains. As the Arctic ice melts, so goes the ice from the Himalayan peaks that has watered the masses for eons in the valleys down the river.

The morning began with lots of sobering news and negative information but ended in the afternoon with a message of hope. Hope that with enough action on the part of today’s youth, we can stop humanity’s role in contributing to the global meltdown. Hope that we all have the capacity to change and that change we must. It was inspiring to see so many young people concerned and determined, and I was proud to be a small part of that energy.

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