Environmentalist Cousteau speaks about natural world

Marina Boyle, Staff writer

Environmentalist Céline Cousteau gave an inspiring talk at the Performing Arts Center on Feb. 26, rounding off the MSG Speaker Series.

Cousteau, a social activist and documentary director, producer and presenter, shared her love of the Earth with the passionate MU crowd.

Cousteau’s message was clear: “What we put out in the world is what we get back. Find solutions, because we can always find problems.”

Cousteau was here to discuss her environmental work and to mobilize another group of young people to join her cause.

She stressed the importance of protecting our environment for our fellow species and future generations.

Originally from Los Angeles, Cousteau is a world traveler and adventurer who has worked and advocated everywhere from the Brazilian Amazon to the Himalayas.

Her most recent multimedia project and campaign centers around the challenges facing the indigenous tribes of the Vale do Javari.

The “Tribes on the Edge” documentary is an example of her cause-focused content and work.

Cousteau reminded the crowd, “Do not assume what you see in front of you is the whole story. Think of split level, so you can see what is above and below. You need to look at all perspectives, understand the full system and see all parts of the picture.”

She discussed further the issues of human behavior, asking everyone to constantly make a change in how they see the world.

As the granddaughter of legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, Céline Cousteau has also explored much of the depths of our seas.

She spoke about her recent work in the Gulf of Mexico, and issues such as traceability, bycatch and overfishing there.

Speaking on the influence of her grandfather on her work and life, she said, “He had a great curiosity. He taught me teamwork.”

Cousteau also discussed her exposure to environmentalism at a very young age, and the role of the women in her family who shaped her view.

Her work has involved filming people from around the globe who live and connect with the environment in an authentic way.

Céline Cousteau showed a clip of “Tribes on the Edge” to the audience and discussed the plight of the Amazonians massacred for trying to prevent the destruction of the rainforest they love.

The project has taken almost a decade to complete and will be shown at a United Nations forum in April and other film festivals in June.

“This film is a beacon. We are incredibly privileged, so we are the ones who have to keep getting up when we get knocked down. They are fighting for their lives every single day. I want to tell their story, not sell their story. When you stand up and realize ‘I did this,’ it’s incredible,” Céline Cousteau said.

Finally, she spoke of how nature is integral to our existence, saying, “My existence is acknowledged by nature, and I feel so small because of it. That’s an amazing perspective. You are not apart from nature — you are a part of nature.”

The talk concluded with a Q&A session in which Céline Cousteau discussed her future plans, including a 10 part series for the Discovery Channel with her father and brother.

She left the audience with a simple message: “Understand that there is a much bigger world out there. We need to do better and put systems in place. Life is about finding alliances and allies.”