At PD HQ, we have often talked about our picks for a Dream Team of Earth-saving superheroes. I’ve long nominated Sir David Attenborough and Pope Francis, but now I’m thinking Prince Harry and Dr. Jane Goodall definitely have to join, too. In the highly anticipated September issue of British Vogue guest-edited by his wife, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry interviews the world’s most famous conservationist on issues ranging from climate change to social justice. And—deep breath—it’s as adorable and inspiring as you would think.
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Earlier this summer HRH The Duke of Sussex met with world renowned ethologist Dr. Jane Goodall for an intimate conversation on environment, activism, and the world as they see it. This special sit-down was requested by The Duchess of Sussex, who has long admired Dr. Goodall and wanted to feature her in the September issue of @BritishVogue, which HRH has guest edited. HRH and Dr. Goodall spoke candidly about many topics including the effects of unconscious bias, and the need for people to acknowledge that your upbringing and environment can cause you to be prejudiced without realising it. The Duke described that “[when] you start to peel away all the layers, all the taught behaviour, the learned behaviour, the experienced behaviour, you start to peel all that away – and at the end of the day, we’re all humans.” • Through @RootsandShoots the global youth service program @JaneGoodallInst founded in 1991, she has created and encouraged a global youth community to recognise the power of their individual strength – that each day you live, you can make a difference. Photos: ©️SussexRoyal / Chris Allerton #ForcesForChange
Dr. Jane Goodall thinks the key to conservation is a sustainable society
Dr. Goodall transitioned from a scientist to a conservationist when she discovered that lush Gombe, Tanzania was stripped of all its trees by 90s. People in the developed have an individual responsibility to choose ethically at every possible moment. “Every single person makes some impact on the planet every day. And you get to choose what you buy, where it comes from,” Dr. Goodall says. “But the thing you have to do first to make this work is to alleviate poverty. Because if you’re really poor, you’re going to cut down the last tree because you’ve got to live. You’re going to take money to kill an elephant because you have to survive.”
Capitalism is driving the world toward the brink
“It’s crazy to think we can have unlimited economic development on a planet with finite natural resources,” Dr. Goodall says. “And we are now making decisions, not based on ‘How will this affect future generations?’ but ‘How will this affect me, now?’ ‘How will this affect my next election campaign?’ ‘How will this affect the next shareholders’ meeting?’ We’ve become materialistic, greedy, and that’s spread through the world.”
Her statement couldn’t be more relevant at a time when political candidates are still shying away from putting environment first. Economic growth is no longer relevant in a world that’s passed the breaking point. Which leads us to…
Prince Harry breaks royal protocol and speaks plainly about the climate crisis
The British Royal Family is one of the most conservative institutions in the world, and its members are expected to refrain from what can be construed as political or controversial remarks. But Prince Harry breaks from the mould in speaking clearly about his personal fears about our ecological crisis. “What we need to remind everybody is: these are things that are happening now. We are already living in it. We are the frog in the water and it’s already been brought to the boil. Which is terrifying,” he said to Dr. Goodall. “It is terrifying. Especially as you’ve just had a baby,” she responded.
Prince Harry’s family planning is also affected by the state of the world
“I think, weirdly, because of the people that I’ve met and the places that I’ve been fortunate enough to go to, I’ve always had a connection and a love for nature. I view it differently [after having a baby], without question. But I’ve always wanted to try and ensure that, even before having a child and hoping to have children…” Prince Harry said, and Dr. Goodall joked, “Not too many!” Prince Harry then revealed that he and Meghan will be having “two, maximum!” children—another reveal about how the state of the world is affecting their personal decisions.
And this is truly a breath of fresh air. According to an Oregon State University study, having a single child makes an American woman’s CO2 output equal to her living until the age of 470 years. Having multiple children literally brings up that number to more than a thousand years. And yet, family planning is hardly discussed as a strategy against climate crisis. At the same time, the cost of raising a child has skyrocketed in recent decades while wages have stagnated. In the past 30 years, university tuition has increased by up to 183% while entry-level salary has only increased by 3%. So only the wealthy can truly afford to have a large family, and having many children has become a kind of status symbol. On the other hand, large families in developing countries are often criticized by people in developed countries as drivers of climate change, despite the fact that they consume far less resources per person.
In this context, having many children while rich is considered aspirational and adorable, and having many children while poor is considered foolish, irresponsible, and repugnant. Despite his extraordinarily privileged position, Prince Harry has chosen to be mindful of the environment in his family planning.
Prince Harry struggles with feelings of hopelessness and honestly, saaaame
“I always think to myself, whenever there’s another natural disaster […] how many clues does nature have to give us before we actually learn, or wake ourselves up to the damage and the destruction that we’re causing?” Prince Harry asked Dr. Goodall. Again, Prince Harry can—and does—surround himself with pretty top-of-the-line experiences. Just the other day he met Beyonce and Jay-Z at the Lion King premiere! But it doesn’t matter how rich or princely you are—climate crisis depression can get anyone.
“I think some of these people at the top know. But for them, the immediate profit, the immediate gain… it’s just greed,” Dr. Goodall replied. “And then, there are the people who feel there’s nothing you can do about it anyway, so ‘eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.’ That’s why it’s so important to get this new fighting atmosphere. That’s why my great hope is in the youth.”
See the full interview here at British Vogue.
Photo: Sussex Royal via Instagram