Alexandra Cousteau makes waves in modern ocean conservation

If we proceed at our present manufacturing fee, the World Financial Discussion board predicts that by 2050 there will likely be extra plastic than fish within the ocean. And right now, there’s a rubbish island thrice the dimensions of France floating within the Pacific Ocean, in addition to over 400 useless zones exist in our seas.

Many people have heard these statistics earlier than on social media posts or by word-of-mouth. They drive us to marvel with nearly debilitating dread if there may be any hope for humanity in any respect. In her presentation this previous week, Alexandra Cousteau, a world-renowned environmental advocate, provided a glimmer of hope in an age of overwhelming nihilism.

Coming from an extended line of environmentalists, Alexandra Cousteau is the granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau, a French naval officer who pioneered each SCUBA diving and the marine conservation motion. She is the Senior Advisor to Oceana and founding father of the Oceans 2050 Initiative, which seeks to revive ocean abundance by 2050. Cousteau spoke as a part of the School in Arts, Sciences, & Engineering Speaker Sequence: Troublesome Conversations as a Catalyst for Change. This semi-annual occasion started in 2018 and has continued to deliver considerate, provocative audio system to our campus. 


Cousteau’s speak, titled “Telling the Story of Our Water Planet: Innovation in Filmmaking and Social Media to Affect Environmental Change,” targeted on the significance of utilizing innovation and know-how to create environmental options with a give attention to restoration somewhat than preservation.

She described our present strategy to conservation as a “zero-sum game” between environmental advocates and financial actors. An endangered species habitat can both be protected or developed; a polluted stream can both be cleaned or left to deteriorate. With this strategy, we’re merely reacting our means into the longer term. Each groups, the environmentalists and the economists, are on the defensive, but they’re all taking part in a dropping sport.

When it was based within the Sixties and ’70s, the environmentalist motion targeted closely on bolstering conservation efforts. It was an efficient software within the age of Cousteau’s grandfather, when plastics have been younger and political gridlock was unborn. However the horrible actuality is that we’ve got misplaced 50% of our oceanic ecosystems since 1950. Conservation is not sufficient. As a substitute, Cousteau urges us to put our vitality into rebuilding abundance. Although we can not totally regain what we’ve got misplaced, we are able to create a brand new age of organic richness for the creatures nonetheless residing within the sea.


All through her opening speech, Cousteau mentioned the challenges dealing with our oceans and the “toolkit of solutions” that lies at our fingertips. She defined the facility of seaweed farming and its phenomenal capability to sequester carbon. She talked of 3D printing coral reefs somewhat than painstakingly rising, gardening, and out-planting tiny coral samples. She mentioned the Blue Carbon Initiative and its purpose to revive coastal marine environments long-term by means of coverage change and neighborhood engagement. Most of all, she targeted on the youth and our superb energy for driving political change. Activists like Greta Thunberg, Isra Hirsi, and Xiye Bastida are all passionate younger voices pushing lawmakers to motion, and their efforts are indispensable in our mission to rebuild the oceans.

Nonetheless, there are little question challenges in Cousteau’s mission. Although the oceans are important to our international ecosystems, ocean conservation was not even talked about within the 2021 United Nations Atmosphere Meeting and is essentially the most poorly funded of its 17 Sustainable Improvement Objectives. Our oceans span totally disparate communities, that means ocean conservation is commonly ripe with inequalities in its strategy and implementation. Although the science exists, lawmakers have to make use of these options effectively and equitably, which is much simpler stated than executed.


Regardless of these obstacles, Cousteau’s message was finally certainly one of extraordinary hope within the face of adversity. She stated her grandfather usually credited his success in marine conservation to residing in his “lucky moment” in historical past. However proper now, it could usually really feel like we’re caught in a very unfortunate second in time.

When her grandfather started to make documentaries in regards to the ocean, he was certainly one of just a few voices talking up about environmental degradation. Now, with the appearance of social media, we’re consistently inundated with information about pandemics and political upheaval. How does one individual encourage change when it’s so laborious to be heard? 


Cousteau believes that within the twenty first century, environmentalism not is determined by the messenger. As a substitute, it depends on a standard message. The attractive factor about social media is that it provides 1000’s of various ecological ambassadors the power to attach with thousands and thousands of area of interest viewers members. Greta, Isra, and Xiye all have their very own followers, whereas older environmentalists like David Attenborough and Jane Goodall have others. 

Trendy environmentalism is not the work of some — it’s the work of many separate, devoted people with a standard imaginative and prescient for change. Collectively, we are able to reinvigorate hope and rebuild our oceans. Collectively, we are able to create our personal “lucky moment” in historical past.




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