Water is the mother of all environmental issues, Philippe Cousteau Jr. stresses as he spreads the conservationist legacy of his famed oceangoing family.
Philippe, the grandson of famous French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau and son of the similarly noted of Philippe Sr., has carried the water for that legacy from the depths of the ocean, into the halls of Congress, and most recently to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York City.
"It's a great honor to be part of that legacy," he told Newsmax.TV's Kathleen Walter.
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Cousteau was at CGI to announce a new ocean-saving program for America's youths. The Water Planet Challenge is a partnership among several businesses and organizations, including EarthEcho International, the nonprofit he co-founded with his sister, Alexandra, and mother, Jan, in honor of his late father, Philippe, Sr.
The effort aims to foster tomorrow's conservation leaders through education about freshwater systems and service projects for middle- and high-school students. Discovery Education and Planet Green as partners also are partners in the effort.
EarthEcho's overall mission is to inspire youths to protect and preserve the planet, much as he says the work of his father and grandfather inspired him.
"Why we focus on what we call our 'water planet' is because of them," he said. "Truly, we do live on a 'water planet'."
"For us, water is that critical issue that we need. It's the most precious substance on the planet, and it links us to pretty much every environmental issue, including climate change, that we're facing."
During the interview with Newsmax.TV, Cousteau said everyone should put partisan politics aside when making decisions that could affect the ocean, including whether to support climate change legislation in Congress.
"(I'm) very concerned about the fact the environment has become so polarized," Cousteau said. "When you talk to a Republican, many of them just outright say, 'Yeah. Climate change isn't real,' without assessing the facts, and it's a big problem."
"It's not a red or blue issue," he said. "It's a green issue . . . Not because of facts or science but because of emotion."
Cousteau often visits Capitol Hill, where he recently testified to push for more environmental education funding. He applauds President Obama's new national ocean policy, which aims to set ocean conservation as a top national priority.
"Fifty percent of our gross domestic product comes from coastal counties in this country," Cousteau said. "We're totally destroying our fisheries. We're ignoring the power and potential of offshore energy, so the administration and the president (are) doing something about it," he said. "We're very excited."
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