In 1981, Studs spoke with Captain Jacques Cousteau who had recently published The Cousteau Almanac: An Inventory of Life on Our Water Planet.  Cousteau gives examples of how humans have been destroying our environment for thousands of years, which leads to a conversation about how to bring first-world industry to developing countries without creating first-world pollution.  Cousteau also talks about his concerns regarding nuclear energy (the Chernobyl disaster was still five years away), and makes suggestions for alternative energy sources.

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Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau, 1972

He sums up his point of view by saying, “We are here to stay, we have one planet.  We have to take care of it.”

The conversation then turns to the relationship between environmentalism and politics, something we’re very familiar with today.  Cousteau tells Studs that he’s recently read an article in Newsweek about a Newsweek journalist who had testified in front of a Senate committee, saying “that the environmental movement were paid by Moscow.”  The underlying sentiment is that “by being anti-nuclear, they [environmentalists] were weakening the West.”

Does this help to explain the gulf we find today between environmental scientists and conservative politicians?

Although our presumptive nominees are not talking about the environment as much as some voters would like, we are all aware that legislation on climate change, fracking, and use of National Park land is very divisive in Washington and among voters.  There will be voters in this 2016 election who were born nearly a decade after the Berlin Wall fell, and yet, this Cold War era idea that environmentalists are anti-American (according to some) certainly seems to live in our current political landscape, and this interview provides some historical context for that belief.

For a very contemporary take on climate science in our political environment, check out this Guardian article from June 20, 2016.

Photo credit: By Peters, Hans / Anefo. – http://proxy.handle.net/10648/abe56934-d0b4-102d-bcf8-003048976d84, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33519331

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