Jane Goodall sure knows how to draw a crowd.

On Saturday, the famed primatologist packed hundreds in of adoring fans into a large ballroom at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu for the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, the largest environmental symposium in the world.

Jane Goodall holds stuffed monkey IUCN. 3 sept 2016
Jane Goodall might be the biggest star of the IUCN World Conservation Congress. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

She talked with several other panelists, including National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and actress Alison Sudol, about the importance of empowering a new generation of up-and-coming conservationists to take charge of protecting the planet.

Goodall, however, was greeted with a standing ovation that no other panelist received during the event, a telling tribute to her stature in the environmental community. In fact, it will be hard to find another speaker during the 10-day event who can bring the same level of star-power to their presentations.

But Goodall also pulled in the largest contingent of domestic and international press to the convention’s media center for a post-talk session with journalists that ranged from flat-out praise for her prior work with chimpanzees in Africa to questions about genetically modified foods.

(Hint: Goodall doesn’t like GMOs. She even called them “dangerous.”)

Goodall told the press that the “world is a very bad state right now” and that the window to reverse course is shrinking. She said there are many factors to blame for Earth’s plight, including government corruption, selfish business interests and poverty.

She said it’s contingent on individuals to push back by making personal decisions that help the global environment, such as by refusing to eat meat based on farming practices that are cruel to animals, rely on vast tracts of land to grow feed and pump dangerous greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

“Conservation has to become an absolute priority,” Goodall said. “Because if we lose nature that’s the end of us. We can’t live without it.”

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