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Grandson of explorer Jacques Cousteau slams ‘bullshit’ claim that oceans absorb pollution

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, May 29, 2010 11:43 EDT
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Phillippe Cousteau, Jr., grandson of famed ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau (pictured), has a unique position in today’s media when it comes to discussing British Petroleum’s massive Gulf of Mexico oil gusher. Unlike many others who’ve tried, he is capable of framing the massive and yet-unchecked disaster for the masses, placing the true scale in terms most humans can grasp.

That’s why, appearing on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday, he called “bullshit” the “perfect” term to describe the right-wing media’s repeated claim that the oceans can simply absorb all of mankind’s pollution.

After noting that public officials in at least one Louisiana parish he’d visited have actually taken over BP’s equipment to jump-start the cleanup effort, Cousteau paused, wearing a pained expression.

“It’s a little too late, though,” he said.

“I hear this on the right wing media outlets,” began Maher. “The ocean is so vast, I’ve heard the phrase, ‘It will take care of itself.’ That’s bullshit, right?”

“Yeah,” Cousteau immediately replied. “Absolutely. Of course. I mean, listen — it’s the perfect word. It’s, it’s uh … It’s bullshit.”

He continued: “[The oceans are] the life support system of this planet and we’ve been dumping in it, we’ve been destroying it for decades and we’re essentially maiming ourselves.”

Cousteau recently dove into the Gulf oil slick, swimming with a camera crew through a toxic soup of oil globs and chemical dispersant. He called it “disgusting” and “one of the most horrible things I’ve ever seen underwater.”

He and Maher also discussed the massive Pacific garbage patch, which by some estimates is larger than the state of Texas and largely comprised of disposable plastic products, which is made from petroleum.

Cousteau and a team of explorers were the creative vision behind the BBC high definition documentary series “Oceans,” which led the team in 2007 to capture over 400 hours of film exploring the world’s most important bodies of water. In the series credits, fellow explorer Paul Rose explains their goal with the project was to put the world’s oceans into a “human scale.” Cousteau has effectively done just that with the Gulf oil gusher by diving a shallow water oil-dispersant plume.

In the first weeks of the disaster, BP was heavily criticized for delaying release of video showing the deep water Gulf oil gusher. When video was finally released, the company lied about what took so long, then perpetuated it’s estimate that 5,000 barrels of oil were venting per day. CEO Tony Hayward would later claim there is no way of knowing how much oil is gushing into the Gulf, contradicting his company’s earlier claim.

Independent scientific analysis of the gusher indicated that figure was really 70,000 barrels or more, per day, spewing into the fragile ecosystem. At that rate, BP’s disaster topped the infamous Exxon-Valdez spill in just four days.

Government scientists now estimate up to 19,000 barrels of crude a day have been gushing into the Gulf since the drilling rig sank on April 22, two days after a blast killed 11. US officials have suggested the Gulf oil gusher will go down as the worst ecological catastrophe in U.S. history. Every effort to cut off the flow has since failed and it may be months before the oil giant can finish drilling relief wells and ultimately cap the gusher.

BP’s chief operating officer Doug Suttles has stressed “patience” in the matter.

President Obama has promised to do everything possible to help Gulf Coast residents whose livelihoods have been affected by the disaster.

This video is from HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, broadcast Friday, May 28, as snipped by Mediaite.

This video is from ABC’s Good Morning America.

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Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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