Oceanographic explorer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau visited Penn State Monday night to appeal to the “decision-makers of tomorrow,” to stop treating the ocean as a “universal sewer.”
“Wherever you live in the planet you are connected to water. We have one water system, which we all — every plant, every animal — depend on,” Cousteau said to the roughly 250-person audience at Alumni Hall in the HUB-Robeson Center.
Cousteau, son of famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, spent time as an explorer, educator and filmmaker, investigating the world’s oceans and expressing his concern for the planet.
He wrote as a syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and over the years has produced more than 80 films.
Cousteau also founded, and is currently chairman and president of, the Ocean Futures Society, a nonprofit marine conversation and education organization that works to communicate the affect people have on the sea and the importance of environmental policy.
Through this organization, Cousteau reaches millions of people globally. He produces environmentally oriented television specials, multimedia programs for schools, public lectures and more to spread awareness and call to action the protection of the ocean.
Cousteau recalled counting objects during a trip that had washed onto the shore of the uninhabited Laysan Islands. Lighters, mascara and toothbrushes from 52 different countries littered the beaches.
He discussed the efforts of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to protect the ocean, but said that’s not enough.
“We’ve only protected about 10 percent (of the ocean), but we must protect a lot more,” he said.
He said that now that the problems facing the world’s water system are known, something can be done about them.
“I believe with all of us on the planet, we can make that (a difference) happen,” said Cousteau. “Every one of us can help.”
Caralyn Reese is a Penn State journalism student.