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Bringing the youth on board

April 24 - 30, 2019

Gulf Weekly Bringing the youth on board

The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain welcomed world-renowned oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau for a two-day interactive session, taking young audiences and adults alike on a ‘land to sea’ journey, unveiling his life-long expeditions and explorations of unique ocean environments and the natural wonders of the world.

As reported in GulfWeekly, the campaigner arrived in the kingdom straight from high level talks to ‘Save the Russian Whales’ captured illegally to be sold to theme parks in China.

He was on his first visit to Bahrain as part of a global Ritz Kids environmental programme.

In an emotional address to the audience of young people and their families, he clutched a copy of this newspaper in his hand, and said he was deeply moved by the coverage as he was keen to spread the message around the globe.

Amongst the audience was British expat schoolgirl Charlie Axtell. The 15-year-old from Saar gave up precious time from her studies as she revises for her GCSE examinations to attend one of the insightful Cousteau sessions.

Charlie, who is torn between a career in marine biology and architectural design, was delighted to note that the star guest was qualified in both subjects. Whatever her future path she remains determined to passionately campaign on behalf of the planet.

This is her report:

 Oceans are one of the earth’s most valuable resources. They cover more than 70 per cent of our planet and govern the weather, clean the air and provide a living for millions while helping feed the world.

They house most of the life on earth ranging from microscopic algae through to the largest animal on the planet, the blue whale.

Yet we are bombarding them with pollution. Choking plastic, discarded nets and leaking oil are amongst the countless ways humans find to destroy the beautiful blue planet. 

Micro-plastics and even finer degraded particles have been traced in the darkest depths while whales and dolphins are being washed ashore suffering from new diseases. Species have become extinct while ecosystems are destroyed.

After generations of neglect at least we now have a voice.

In some countries tougher protection for waterways is the Number One concern of the electorate, ranking above child poverty, rising costs or housing shortages. 

The ability to fish and swim in rivers is a birthright.

Greta Thunberg may be the modern face of environmentalism (the Swedish schoolgirl climate activist has been described as a role model for worldwide student activism and is famous for having initiated a school strike for climate movement last year that surged globally) yet the Cousteau family name has legendary status.

Jean-Michel, 81, the son of the late legendary pioneering sea adventurer Jacques, visited the Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain last week.

Despite spending only a brief time in the kingdom, he had the opportunity to educate hundreds of people, including more than 300 schoolchildren.

Starting by highlighting one of his campaigns featured on the cover of GulfWeekly, he spoke passionately about the need to make a bridge between the main issues facing us today and the impact current decisions will have on the future – hence the need to heavily involve students.

He pointed out that 12 of the last 20 years have been the hottest on record and the effect of this on the diminishing life in the oceans.

Cousteau also established a link to the audience by showing the connection between all water sources, stressing the importance of our ‘one water system’ by referring to the fact that more than 55 per cent of the human body consists of water.

His mantra is ‘we cannot protect what we cannot understand’. He appeared particularly impressed by the development of a new Exosuit that will allow exploration to new depths of the ocean.

There is so much that needs to be done it can all seem daunting. You may be asking: ‘what difference can I make?’

Governments and industry need to take action. It is not acceptable to place the burden of responsibility on someone-else, pointing the finger at each other. Yet they are often motivated by the will of the people.

I challenge you to take a decision today that will have a positive impact on saving our planet.

Inspired by Cousteau, I have already written to a charity to encourage them to help educate and collect data to support his work. What will you do?

The oceans may roar, but they cannot speak for themselves – they need our help.

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