Alexandra Cousteau has a story to tell about our world’s waterways. The granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau has been telling this story as her Expedition: Blue Planet team has traveled the world. In places like Cambodia, the Middle East, Botswana and India, the group has chronicled the changing waterways of our world and the water problems that are of global concern.
After returning from these expeditions, Alexandra heard people in the United States say things like, “OK, I get water’s a big deal, but we don’t have those problems here in America,” or “I get water’s a big deal, so what can I do.”
In response to this, her Blue Planet team will embark on a North American expedition this summer to tell the stories of this continent’s waterways.
“We’ll be telling five stories as we travel around. Along the way, we will be stopping in communities and engaging those communities in river cleanup, beach cleanup, water quality testing and watershed exploration. We’ll be raising money for local initiatives and really raising awareness and getting people the tools to take action in their communities on these issues,” Alexandra says. (The famous explorer’s granddaughter, who serves as an adviser to MNN, prefers to be referred to by her first name, out of respect for Cousteau’s work.)
The expedition will take the team to the Colorado River, where water shortages are possible as soon as 2012. They’ll be engaging in conversations about how to conserve water to ensure that people get the water they need to grow their food and fuel their lives.
Next, they’ll go to Florida to see how the third-largest barrier reef in the world is facing major coral die-off and conditions that most people think happen only in the Third World.
They’ll also go to the Tennessee Valley to look at clean coal and ask the question, “What is clean energy today?” One of the topics that will be addressed during the expedition will be redefining how we fuel our society and our economy as we invest in cleaner, more sustainable, renewable forms of energy.
Another stop will be the Great Lakes to better understand the condition of 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. Despite cleanups of pollution that occurred during the 1960s and '70s, there are new challenges facing the Great Lakes that need to be addressed.
Finally, the Blue Planet team will end the trip at the Chesapeake Bay, exploring the issues that surround the use of the rivers, such as runoff and dead zones.
Alexandra is unsure if the April oil spill off the coast of Louisiana will change any of the team’s plans, but she hopes that this tragedy will be a wake-up call.
“I think this is an opportunity to have a very frank discussion about how we’re going to power our lives. I think we need to depoliticize climate change. We need to depoliticize energy. We need to depoliticize oil and gas. We need to make it a conversation about what’s best for America and the world and less about what’s best for blue or red,” she says with conviction.
“Once we start making decisions based on science, based on the precautionary principle, based on generating jobs through innovations through technology and really pushing the envelope on our potential as a leader on these issues, then I think we will have learned something from this terrible tragedy.”
Throughout the expedition, the team will be partnering with more than 30,000 websites including Mother Nature Network, National Geographic, CNN International and Treehugger. The sites will feature videos, blogs and other media that will be produced along the way.
That media will be created in the back of the same bus that John McCain used for his presidential campaign. Alexandra believes that although there has been plenty of focus on this detail, it’s not an issue. She says it’s simply recycling a bus that was previously outfitted for media purposes, a bus that has the right equipment for her team’s needs. The team will be able to Skype with school groups, conduct interviews, produce media and share ideas safely from the bus that is being converted to biodiesel.
Alexandra hopes that those who follow the North American expedition will help shape the conversation about waterways by sharing the videos and blogs that are produced along the way. Following the expedition that begins on June 30 will be easy. In addition to the 30,000 partner websites, the stories will be told on Alexandra’s own website, Blue Legacy, through Blue Legacy’s Twitter account and on their Facebook page. She invites everyone to join in the conversation and keep an eye out for the Blue Planet bus which will be stopping in more than a dozen communities to tell the story of our waterways and to get people to participate in the solutions to our planet’s water problems.
Related on MNN: Watch Alexandra's Blue Legacy videos