The msnbc original series ”Generation to Generation” takes a side-by-side look at the work of dynamic leaders and their modern-day counterparts. This week, the series features Jean-Michel and Fabien Cousteau, the son and grandson of Academy Award-winner and legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.
Both men have kept alive Jacques’ legacy of adventure and love for underwater life. Jean-Michel is the president of the Ocean Futures Society, an organization that honors his father with the mission “If you protect the ocean, you protect yourself.” Not only an environmentalist, he is also a successful film producer, with more than 70 films to his credit.
Fabien is a third-generation ocean explorer with a passion for understanding and protecting sharks. He took his first dive at the age of 4 and wants to spend 31 consecutive days underwater in order to break a 50-year-old record set by his grandfather.
Take a look at the Q&A with Jean-Michel. More of the conversation will be published throughout the day:
Paula Lambert Quinn: How much damage will be done to our environment and ocean/marine life , if we don’t act now on climate change issues?
This is a great question with no easy answer I am afraid. But what we do know is, as humans burn more fossil fuels (an non-renewable energy source), we are releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This not only causes climate change, but it is also changing the chemistry of the ocean because the oceans are a natural sink of CO2. With this increase of CO2 in the oceans, we are seeing the waters become more “acidic” by decreasing the pH. This process is known as ocean acidification. This has major consequences for animals that build shells out of calcium carbonate — animals like shellfish, krill, and sea urchins, as well as corals that create the foundation for the most diverse systems in the world, coral reef ecosystems. As we’ve seen so many times before, societal perceptions change when people begin to see the tangible consequences of our expanding environmental degradation. In the last decade, fishermen along the Pacific Northwest coast have witnessed massive declines in their once highly abundant and productive oyster fisheries. The growing acidic waters off the Northwest coast in the Pacific shed light on the true severity of the effects of our acidifying ocean. While we continue to learn how the Earth works, how nature runs on renewable energy and recycles its waste, and how the biota of the planet keeps the planet habitable for all living things, we need to pay attention to these lessons from nature and adapt our ways of living to promote the health of the environment rather than undermine it. We certainly have the capacity to adapt, innovate and create sustainable lifestyles. The question is whether we have the will to change.
Bree Wells: What’s your favorite part of the ocean?
My favorite part of the ocean is where I have not yet explored, the deep sea. Now that I have had the opportunity to test dive the new EXOSUIT, a new hard-metal suit that allows divers to operate safely down to a depth of 1,000 feet and yet still have exceptional dexterity and flexibility to perform delicate work. I am like a kid, excited and anxious to dive this suit in the open ocean and discover for myself the mysteries of the deep sea. Less than 5% of the ocean has been explored. This new technology developed and built in North Vancouver by Nuytco Research Ltd. gives us the access to explore the depths of ocean realm and reinforce the idea that the ocean is our life-support system. The more we understand, the more we’ll strive to protect.
Stay tuned for more updates to the Q&A!