Did Jane Goodall advocate reducing the world’s population by 95%?

By May 30, 2024 Environment, Society

We came across a post on X claiming that Jane Goodall, a prominent Primatologist renowned for her long-term research on chimpanzees and efforts to conserve primate habitat through the Jane Goodall Institute, is advocating reducing the world’s population to 450 million people, allegedly a 95% reduction from today’s population.

In the video posted on X, Goodall states that we cannot ignore human population growth as it underlies other problems that might not exist if the world had the same population size as it did 500 years ago.

Goodall’s message

In order to understand the full context of Goodall’s comments, we ran reverse image searches of screenshots taken from the video shared on X to identify its source. The video was from a panel discussion at the 2020 World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, where Goodall participated as a panellist.

In the full video of the panel session, which can be found on WEF’s YouTube channel, the panellists discussed developing sustainable markets that maintain livelihoods while securing the future of the Amazon forest.

Speaking about sustainable lifestyles and efforts to protect forests, Goodall raised human population growth as a factor that must be mitigated to combat deforestation. This aligns with similar sentiments that she has expressed in the past, highlighting that the world has finite resources and that in some areas, these resources are being depleted faster than they can be restored due to population growth. She has stated that her work also focuses on empowering women, such as striving to keep girls in school for longer and encouraging higher education to help slow population growth.

Hence, upon reviewing the full video from the WEF panel, it becomes apparent that the claim that Goodall is advocating for reducing the world’s population to 450 million people, or by 95%, is false.

Same video, different claims

We also found that the same video of Goodall has been repeatedly used over the past few years to promote similar false claims. These claims include allegations that Goodall advocates for forcibly reducing the world’s population to address the world’s environmental problems, to even more extreme claims alleging that she played a role in convincing world leaders to intentionally create the COVID-19 pandemic as a means of population control.

These instances demonstrate how the prominence of individuals such as Goodall could be exploited to propagate misinformation and disinformation across various narratives. It illustrates the ease with which social media could distort reality, sowing confusion and discord in the process. This is exemplified by the reactions observed in the comments under such social media posts, where many seemingly accept these false narratives without questioning them and respond with anger at Goodall’s alleged stance of forceful depopulation.

Hence, such social media posts underscore the importance of critical thinking and media literacy in navigating today’s complex information landscape to prevent the spreading of false claims.

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