Cousteau: Good people can work together for environment
But it wasn’t until a year later, when she spent 150 days traveling around North America, especially the United States, that she came to grips with the real problems.
“This is the country that taught me about the crisis and where the solutions are,” Cousteau told an audience Wednesday evening in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center Theater at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Cousteau, granddaughter of famed explorer and filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau, spoke at the campus as keynote speaker kicking off Earth Week. She talked about her own experiences making films about the environment, as well as how she has incorporated social media to engage viewers.
But much of her focus was on efforts to resurrect the Colorado River, which once traveled south from the Rockies, through the Grand Canyon, and emptied into a delta in Mexico along the Gulf of California. That delta used to be the size of Rhode Island, she said.
Since the construction of Hoover Dam, cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix have thrived on water from the Colorado. Demand from Las Vegas has grown so much, Cousteau said, that they’re putting in a second intake valve.
Meanwhile, the Mexican delta ran dry, turning into a mix of desert and mud flats.
Just last month, after lobbying by environmentalists, the International Boundary Water Commission released water from Lake Mead in Nevada to flow toward the Colorado River delta. The river’s expected to meet the sea again on May 7 or 8, Cousteau said.
“It’s an incredible thing to see water start flowing back,” she said. She spoke of Mexican children letting the water rush over their feet and ankles. “This is a moment they will never forget.”
More releases are planned in the next five years as part of the effort to revitalize the delta. After that, she said, “we’ll see what happens.”
“When good people come together … you can actually accomplish something incredible, important and life-changing,” Cousteau said.