By: Ankita Kulkarni
January 3 2023
Jane Goodall spoke about the consequences of disproportionate population growth on the environment. A misleading quote has been attributed to her.
Primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall participated in the World Economic Forum's (WEF) One Trillion Trees project that was launched in Davos in 2020. Speaking at a WEF panel discussion in 2020, she addressed the effects of unchecked population growth on the environment.
In a recent Twitter post on December 22, 2022, the account Wall Street Silver shared a video clip of Goodall speaking in 2020 and claimed it was part of a "depopulation agenda" by the WEF. In a 16-second video shared in the Twitter post, we hear Goodall saying, "We cannot hide away from human population growth. Because it underlies so many other problems. All these things we talk about would not be a problem if there was a size of population that there was 500 hundred years ago."
However, an edited version of the speech has been circulated out of context with a misleading quote, which led commenters to link the WEF and Goodall’s comments to the New World Order conspiracy theory. The caption misquotes Goodall and reads, "We can solve all the world's problems if we reduce the population to where it was 500 years ago."
A reverse image search of the video showed that the 16-second video is a clip from Goodall's speech from her talk at a panel discussion called "Securing a Sustainable Future for the Amazon." A full video of her speech is available on the WEF YouTube channel.
Speaking to the panel, Goodall discussed the One Trillion Trees Project aimed at conserving trees and forest cover. During the course of the panel discussion, Goodall was asked what can be done to ensure that trees planted under the Trillion Trees Project do not end up being cut down by local communities or large corporations. Responding to the panel moderator, BBC journalist Mishal Husain, Goodall said that there are five factors that need to be mitigated — addressing poverty, eating less meat, reducing forest land used for cattle grazing, eliminating political corruption, and finally, human population growth.
Goodall spoke about her forest conservation program that was implemented at Gombe National Park in Tanzania, which helped improve the lives of people living around the forest and, in turn, contributed to the sustainable development of the forest. She said, "It’s been shown all around the world as women's education improves, family size drops, and it was the growing human population that was the worst problem destroying the forests in this area." She also added that family planning programs were introduced, which she says were well received as the health of the babies improved.
She spoke about how natural resources are fewer or are decreasing as compared to the world population, which would lead to the exploitation of the environment. She noted that women's education and family planning are key points to check on the human population and protect the environment.
Goodall has previously voiced concerns of disproportionate human population growth. She was quoted in a study published in 2003, titled "Environmental change and security project report," where she spoke about the overpopulation in Gombe, and how "there were more people living on the land around Gombe than the land could possibly support." She also addressed the issue at a Population Matters conference in 2019.
It is to be noted that the depopulation agenda that has been attributed to the WEF is a common part of the New World Order conspiracy theory, which falsely claims that "elites" are planning to decrease the population, arrest and enslave people to enforce a totalitarian dystopia. Logically has previously debunked claims linking COVID-19 vaccines and census data to such theories.
Additionally, the United Nations World Population Prospects for 2022 states that population growth has already begun to slow down and predicts that the global population will reach 10.4 billion by approximately 2100.
A video from 2020 has been misrepresented and taken out of context. Additionally, the text on the video has been falsely attributed to Goodall. Goodall spoke about sustainable development while considering the population. The claim that she advocated for the WEF's depopulation agenda is also false, and there is no evidence for the existence of such plans. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.