Episode 5 of Bughouse Square is out! Read the Story

Jacques Cousteau discusses his book "The Cousteau Almanac: An Inventory of Life on Our Water Planet"

BROADCAST: Sep. 16, 1981 | DURATION: 00:55:25

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Captain Cousteau talks about his book and the environmental movement in the United States and elsewhere.


Studs Terkel When we were young in school we were taught in history books about explorers. The name Magellan, Balboa, Admiral Perry, Amundson. Well there's a new kind of an explorer today. One who explores this organism called our environment! One who explores deep down into the seas and sees the possibilities as well as peril or so much being abused and I'm thinking of course of Captain Jacques Yves Cousteau, the most celebrated of our explorers of course. All of us are acquainted with him through his quite marvelous television series. And he and his young colleagues have put together a book, it's called the Cousteau Almanac. And the subtitle, "An Inventory of Life on Our Water Planet." And it's it's beautiful it's thrilling but it's also, it's full of advice about how to save this environment from those who would the predators. And it's about ordinary people who seem to know what it's about though that I've given that credit for that. And so this is the book published by Doubleday. Dolphin, we'll talk about the dolphin in a moment. So Captain Cousteau, my guest. His thoughts about the Almanac and about us and where we live and how we live and how we can live.


Studs Terkel Just hearing those two verses of the Pete Seeger song about the Hudson River where he lives and the boat the Clearwater. Your thoughts, Captain Cousteau.

Jacques Cousteau Pete recorded for us his song "Along the Hudson River" for one of our films and I was very grateful for him. We did this with my son Philippe, and it's Philippe who had the idea of the song in there. So there's a connection, that connection between, ah, Pete Seeger's and this almanac, finally. The Hudson River.

Studs Terkel And I was thinking about your book, the almanac, and he's in it, this, he and his colleagues. Ordinary people who live along the Hudson, trying to save it, to keep it clear once more. Your book is about people like him, millions in the world you call the wave makers.

Jacques Cousteau Yes. You know that I have steered my life and thought it differently, as soon as I understood that there was a problem. I understood this in nineteen fifty-eight, fifty-nine. Before that I was just a mere explorer and since then I'm, what? I think I am a witness of the destructions and I am trying to attract attention and, and yell and say, "Help! This cannot go on!" And, ah, this is the first sign. After that you have to you have to say OK, attracting attention is a good thing but you also have to find ways.

Studs Terkel And so this book is about ways.

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel About what has happened to the rivers, to the lakes, to the skies, to the forests the things you [unintelligible] for and those who are trying to --

Jacques Cousteau To change things, yes.

Studs Terkel So where do we begin? You say no where else to go. You know in the old days, nomad, people could travel when things got bad and went one to another. Now there is no longer that that frontier.

Jacques Cousteau But I have a good example here with, ah, several examples if you have time. The first when I was there working on Greek archaeology in the Mediterranean. The thing that strikes us now is that most of these beautiful Greek islands are bare of vegetation, almost, and it's very easy to understand. Four, five centuries B.C. or even 10 centuries B.C., the world population was counted in a few million people all together. And these people had no reason to care for the environment. But even so they went to an island, settled down, exploited the trees, built boats with the trees, cooked their food, and after a number of years, or maybe a few centuries, there were no trees left so they moved to the next islands and did the same thing. When the Asians crossed the Bering Strait 17000 years ago or 10000 years ago when both times the Bering Strait was where [unintelligible], and they began to invade North America. There are traces in circles almost circles but curves that are almost circles, from, with the center in the Bering Strait, and wider and wider waves reaching into United States, into America, and there across across this line you find the, you can date the destruction of the saber tiger, of and such and such animals. And people moving only when they had exhausted their resources and went somewhere else. And the earth was big and entire places were uninhabited. Another story. When the first islanders landed in Easter Island, that's 600 A.D., that's more recent, that history, almost, landed there in an uninhabited desert island, but not so desert. There were trees that we have identified from the seeds in the mud of a volcano, and many other plants. It was a rich island: not tropical, sub-tropical. They landed there probably 200 people. Two boats. Men, wives, children. Poultry, chicken, pigs, seeds, whatever. Arrive there very pleased to have found an island because I thought they were lost and they began to settle, to explore [exploit?] the island, and they multiplied, and from two hundred in seventeen hundred, no, in sixteen hundred seventy. They had reached a number of about 30000 on this small island. They had eliminated older trees, they were short of food. They were short of food. They, all of the land had been washed out by rains. They had erected all these beautiful statues because they were all governed by a [tough?] ruling class, the class of the priests. We know all these things from testimonies. And finally, and they had invented a language and the writing, an alphabet that we don't, still don't understand. [Pasteurization?] had developed, with its culture and because they had exhausted the resources they began to kill each other, destroy everything, fight themselves with big fires with murders, with rapes, with whatever, eating themselves. And when the Dutch discovered the island in the seventeen hundreds were only one thousand five hundred islanders left. So this havoc had --

Studs Terkel Out of thirty thousand, only fifteen hundred left?

Jacques Cousteau Yeah. So ah, in sixteen hundred. So in a hundred years, the population had been down from 30000 to 1500. And this is, all these things are lessons for us if we put them all together, these three different things: the Greeks in the Aegean Sea, the Asians in the Bering Strait --

Studs Terkel Easter Island.

Jacques Cousteau Easter Island. Put these three lessons together what does that mean? It means, A, that the fate of an over-populated area is chaos and social disaster, leading to destruction of the culture. B, that they now that you have occupied all this island, they have nowhere else to go. And those who say, "Oh don't worry." Some of them say, "We always can escape in to the sea." Nonsense. The others say, "We can build artificial planets and we will have a perfect environment over there." Now is it really a good thing when we still have a beautiful planet to say, "Well [alright?] this beautiful planet, let's sacrifice it and try to build another one." Like if we were God, if we were God. All these things don't make any sense. We are here to stay. We have one planet we have to take care of it [unintelligible] [society?]

Studs Terkel Course, you raise several questions here and need these different societies have been destroyed? Overpopulation or not, had their been another way of living of treating nature and themselves. [Somewhere? some way?] in this book, we'll ask you about the almanac itself--

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel What's in it. You speak of all sorts of references to the decline of Rome and one reason [gives? this is?] interesting the small farmer who is the [base? way?] society went because the big boys took over. Well today we have something called agribusiness and the small farmer is having a rough time and is less of him and her. So as though, as though there is an analogy here too.

Jacques Cousteau There is an analogy. And the small farmer of Easter Island was also the one who had all the burden. He had to feed the priests and there and the statue sculptors and the statue transporters and the statue erectors and all this [cult?] of [unintelligible]. And the ones that were, that were feeding them were the small farms.

Studs Terkel So we're talking aren't we, because this book at the beginning has almost what I call dedication. In the very beginning you are saying that ordinary people who so long have accepted the word of experts who represent few people to begin with have the capacity if they have the facts to make the right decision. Ordinary people, this is what, and the book's directed toward them.

Jacques Cousteau Yes you see today experts are automatically specialists and specialists by definition are specialized. And if they're specialized, they get away from most for most aspects of the daily life of everybody else. So they are not the people to make the right decision for the rest of humanity. Today governments like the former government of France, I don't know about the new one, it was a technocracy. It was not a political authority it was a technical, technological authority. The magnates of Electricite de France, French electricity company, nationalized, were deciding what's good for the public, not the public. And they were using of course all the possible media to explain their decision [their own way? the wrong way?]. But never was a people consulted and that is the reason why France is now stuffed with almost 50 nuclear plants that we don't know what to do with and that are going to disrupt and outrage our landscapes for thousands of year.

Studs Terkel At the same time, we'll come to nuclear plants in a moment here and all over the world in certain, in developed countries so-called developed countries. In France something happened though, and you took part in the, people called Green candidates.

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel What was that? Explain. Something was happening at the grassroots level--

Jacques Cousteau There is a political environmental movement in France in Germany also and in Italy. There were attempts here in this country to make such a movement but it completely failed. In England also it failed. But in France the political party has been pretty strong getting about four and a half percent of the votes in general. And that's just the beginning. And if we make opinion polls in France we see that 30 to 35 percent of of the population are environmentally-minded, but only four, five percent want to vote for the Greens because they don't have yet faith in the future of the political movement. But there is such a political movement. I'm not sure it's a good thing because I think the environmental movement could also and probably better so remain outside of politics and put pressure on anybody and everybody else.

Studs Terkel Aaah.

Jacques Cousteau Huh?

Studs Terkel This is a big question isn't it?

Jacques Cousteau It's a big question.

Studs Terkel That is the environmental movement--

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel Not forming a party as such--

Jacques Cousteau That's right.

Studs Terkel In France, but having influence--

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel On [others?].

Jacques Cousteau That's what I am trying to do and I'm, the reason why I'm doing this is that my, because of my past life. The role of the Cousteau Society is more international than national. We have, we are dealing with the water system, the water system by essence international. And we think that we have to remain neutral politically so as to be able to have the same influence I'd say in United States or France as in Russia, if we can. For the moment we can't but maybe we can someday. And we want also to be listened to in the developing counties where the problems are even more acute.

Studs Terkel So there's a problem isn't it, in developing countries the need for industrialization--

Jacques Cousteau Mmhmm.

Studs Terkel Is important. The same time with industrialization as practiced today in all societies comes environmental pollution, come [unintelligible].

Jacques Cousteau Mmm?

Studs Terkel Need it be? That's the-- Now we come to alternatives.

Jacques Cousteau It does not need to be. And you know I have followed very carefully this thing. Nine years ago at Stockholm Conference, a representative of Pakistan made a very popular remark at the moment that was reproduced everywhere especially by the industrial tycoons. It was, the Pakistan man said, Ha! Pollution, pollution. We would love to have pollution! Meaning that it would mean that we are industrially developed. Bon. So that's where where we started from nine years ago. Today not so. When you go to the developing counties, when you discuss [unintelligible] at the United Nations Environmental Program with representatives of the nation, every year on they meet. You're finding people who are now aware that they must out avoid making the same mistakes as we industrialized county have done in the past, and that it is possible, and it is economical for them, for the community if not for all the planet, to build an industry that is clean to start with, and that they are beginning to understand. And next year we are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Stockholm Conference and we will be able to measure--

Studs Terkel The Stockholm Conference was the conference dealing with the world environment.

Jacques Cousteau Yes and the conference that ended up with the creation by the United Nations of a new agency about the environment called the UNEP: United Nations Environmental Program. So next year is very important date, year for environmentalists. It's the 10th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference. In 10 years, what did we do? What is the state of affairs? I would say generally speaking that things are worse than there were 10 years ago, but the awareness of the people is growing. So there is hope.

Studs Terkel Two things are happening aren't there? Two things as you've described the Pakistani--

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel Spokesman's statement about give us pollution means jobs. We know for a long time industry was telling people to work. If these environmentalists--

Jacques Cousteau Mmhmm.

Studs Terkel They split up the middle class environmentalists, blue collar working people as if they win we have to close our factories you're out of a job.

Jacques Cousteau Which is nonsense.

Studs Terkel No and then the Atomic, Oil Chemical Workers Union challenge them, and they proved they can still have a non-polluted and jobs.

Jacques Cousteau Sure.

Studs Terkel So there's less of that blackmail succeeding.

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel And the other thing that you describe as things happening, there are many anti-nuclear movements throughout the world and as things are getting worse the awareness is getting more on the part of people. So there's a kind of an interesting, two things happening at the same time aren't they?

Jacques Cousteau Yes you know the, the nuclear industry the nuclear problem is sacrosanct in many counties. In France during the last government you are not allowed to speak about it on television. In this country, if you do you're in trouble. I will not name the large manufacturer who was going, who had promised to sponsor a series of [our?] television shows and has withdrawn at the last minute because of anti-nuclear opinions.

Studs Terkel Oh really?

Jacques Cousteau Oh yes. So this is the kind of economic--

Studs Terkel Club?

Jacques Cousteau Well club no, I mean blackmail.

Studs Terkel Yes.

Jacques Cousteau That is organized. Well, things may be a little different now, but the thing that we fear most is that in this developing world where if we go on with the development of nuclear power we may end up with a police state. Now I w-- Some signs are already showing. Recently "Newsweek." I read the following thing: a noted well-known journalist of "Newsweek" testified at the Senate committee that the environmental movements were paid by Moscow. That's the beginning of the end, eh? Which means that we are almost as with McCarthy, eh? Well as soon as you are going to say I'm an environmentalist, you're good for jail, eh?

Studs Terkel That stops conversation

Jacques Cousteau This-- Stops conversation. If you're suspected of being paid by the Russians, where can you go, eh? And we intellectuals we feel this is the supreme insult. So this is something we have to be careful of.

Studs Terkel Because there are the Russians themselves and their nuclear plants--

Jacques Cousteau Sure.

Studs Terkel Which is ironic of course.

Jacques Cousteau [You?] but what was said by them is that by being anti-nuclear they were weakening the West. Oh! Nonsense, what a nonsense!

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Jacques Cousteau Huh.

Studs Terkel Isn't it-- We're talking about how nuclear the "Almanac" is so good. It's full of all sorts of facts and anecdotes and incidents and these wave makers and in all the fields and nuclear energy and the awareness on the part of a great many of its dangers. Aside from Three Mile Island--

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel And Brown's Ferry.

Jacques Cousteau But you must admit that this almanac is not an anti-nuclear book, eh?

Studs Terkel No! I'm going to ask you about--

Jacques Cousteau It cites this is as one of the problems, yeah.

Studs Terkel Other adventures, ask about other adventures. But you also point out how if anything, nuclear energy weakens.

Jacques Cousteau Exactly.

Studs Terkel Like it does not strengthen it. Because of the need for--

Jacques Cousteau The economy, yes.

Studs Terkel The tremendous expense itself involved in everything else.

Jacques Cousteau Yes, to create one job in the nuclear business, nuclear energy, not nuclear research, nuclear energy, needs about more than $300000 investment. To create one job in any other field is 10 or 20 or 30 times less.

Studs Terkel You know we talk about unemployment and here again the "Almanac" deals with all this with the nature of livestock, the grains they eat, the waste, the food we eat, and as well as the trip on the Calypso, the ship, various parts of the world what is happening to them. Your own experiences and adventures. The book is "The Cousteau Almanac" and it's published by Doubleday Dolphin. I got to ask about the dolphin, lessons of the dolphin, what we have to learn from them. And it deals with the events in different parts of the countries, renewable energy of course, alternative sources, and roots, and the food we eat, and the rivers we'd like to bathe in and fish in and swim in.

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel And the water we'd like to drink. So, well you've been of course right smack in the middle of this. You call environment an organism.

Jacques Cousteau Yes. Exactly. It's a nature, [I sure] want to call it that way. On earth, is a very intricate organism. And when we are talking about the pyramid of life, for example, saying that human beings are at the tip of that pyramid, this pyramid is more than just a heap of stones. It's an intricate organism with every species playing its role. Now this pyramid has changed over the millions of years but very slowly, and by no way is nature ready to cope with the speed at which we are modifying the environment by suppressing species. Species that have disappeared have been replaced by others that [written off?] maybe a one or two every million years. And we are destroying them at the pace of five hundred thousand in 20 years. So that's absolutely incredible. And the damage is irreversible. It is irreparable and we have to stop it. If you don't want to pass over a desert to our grandchildren.

Studs Terkel My guest is Captain Jacques Yves Cousteau and the, "Cousteau Almanac" is the book and I'm going to ask about the people active the world over. How there's a direct analogy in what happened in Chicago and in India. A specific case we'll talk about that. The tree huggers at Uttar Pradesh among other wave-makers. [pause in recording] Here is something rema- throughout the book as the perils are delineated, you know, and specify when the comes to the rivers, to the skies, to the cities, to the communities, there is always somebody active trying to maintain a civility or sanity and save nature in its best form. And so you have a chapter here, it's the sequence about the tree huggers of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. The contractors came in, the people sat by and they saw the whole environment destroyed and they said, We're not gonna let it be. So they said we're going to hug these trees. You're gonna to chop it down? Chop us down to stop. In Chicago about 10 years ago some housewives save some trees along the boulevard that the mayor at the time wanted to cut down to expand the expressway, and they saved the trees. I think in India, Chicago the same kinds of people.

Jacques Cousteau You know in 1959, the French government had decided to dump a few hundred drums with radioactive waste in the Mediterranean. I raised hell it with the help of municipalities, with unions, with fishermen's organization, with tourist organization, et cetera. And the train was stopped by mothers and kids lying down on the track, and the train had to go back and the drums were never dumped in the Mediterranean. So the people can stop things, they can have an influence when they're sure of their right.

Studs Terkel It's they, it's- I'm looking at the various wave-makers here in chi- here is someone saving one of the Great Lakes along Lake Erie.

Jacques Cousteau Mmmhmm.

Studs Terkel There was a businessman [now?] who decided to start a movement.

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel And it got 500,000 signatures, and to some extent it was cleared up. And throughout you have throughout the book as you described the dangers to the environment--

Jacques Cousteau We also show that there are remedies, yes.

Studs Terkel Yeah, you're showing-

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel And you speak of alternative energies and naturally you speak of the sun.

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel And there's a marvelous cartoon in there. How's that go again? "You want some oil? I own the oil. You want some coal?

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel "I own the coal." This picture, "You want some sun? I own the- Well let's talk about something else." [laughing]

Jacques Cousteau Exactly.

Studs Terkel It's not practical, it's not practical.

Jacques Cousteau Never, not practical.

Studs Terkel But it's funny about renewable, the phrase renewable energy sources.

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel A good deal is devoted to that. And [so?] renewable energy sources.

Jacques Cousteau Yes well the renewable energy sources are of two kinds. Three kinds. Two of them are pretty safe and the third one may be dangerous. One is the solar energy under all its forms, and there are many many many forms of solar energy that can be exploited for ever and ever and ever; for four billion years. The second source is geo- geothermal.

Studs Terkel Thermal.

Jacques Cousteau Geothermal, the origin of geothermal energy is nuclear. But it happens in the bottom of the earth and the way the way we get the heat from the core of the earth by injecting water in wells is safe; it does not increase radioactivity of the water. The third way is to use gravitational force between the moon and the earth. The tides. That we have made a pilot plant in France at the Rance River. It works fine because it's a small plant, but it has been calculated that if we were using all the gravitational energy from the moon on the surface of the earth, [unintelligible] in the ocean, we could probably slow down the rotation of the earth by half a second every century. Well that seems very small but I don't think it would be very wise to do that. I consider this as potentially dangerous. But although the are two other sources of energy are very safe, and endless. So when we are blackmailed with the idea that we have to go nuclear because there is no alternative, this is really nonsense. To start with we have fossil fuels for several centuries, if we count the coral and the [shale?] oil and the tar sands and the peat and whatever. There are several centuries of fossil fuels. We have to be very careful in using fossil fuels but we can. So this will give us time if we want to to develop renewable and safe sources of energy like solar energy or maybe, we are not quite sure yet, fusion. But the, which is nuclear. But the fission way--

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Jacques Cousteau So the uranium channel is, we made a bad choice.

Studs Terkel Isn't fusion dangerous too?

Jacques Cousteau We don't know.

Studs Terkel Because the nuclear aspect of it is there.

Jacques Cousteau Well we don't know really because what, what do we call dangerous? If it is only radiation in the vicinity of the heart of fusion and only during the fusion I don't see anything wrong about that; it's something that can be easily overcome. There will probably be, I'm not sure of that, nobody is sure, there would probably be very little waste nuclear waste radioactive waste from fusion. If the calculations are right, if the thing [posed?] to be economical, it may be an acceptable avenue for almost inexhaustible energy.

Studs Terkel You've spoken about the unexplored aspects. Still [they're?] still unexplored. You explore under the water. The ocean floor is still unexplored. You've got about as deep as--

Jacques Cousteau Oh I don't say unexplored. It's, I would say little explored.

Studs Terkel Little explored.

Studs Terkel Yes because there are already many many people who have made--

Studs Terkel Well you have of course--

Jacques Cousteau Yes but--

Studs Terkel And your colleagues.

Jacques Cousteau But many other people, take for example--

Studs Terkel But there's still--

Jacques Cousteau But there's still a lot to learn. Yes.

Studs Terkel I mean is, are there, I mean , source, something about the sources, the sources of energy--

Jacques Cousteau Of energy.

Studs Terkel And of food.

Jacques Cousteau From the bottom of the ocean we have little to wait for as far as food is concerned. And as far as minerals is concerned we know what that there are great reserves of specific materials that are very expensive to get and to purify. As far as energy is concerned yes. But if we are talking about offshore oil, this is exhaustible. It's not going to last very long. But we can talk about all the sources of energy in the sea and then we are talking about renewable almost inexhaustible sources of energy in the ocean. There are many forms you know probably of them,[unintelligible], wind, currents, waves, [circle?] [unintelligible] gradients, etc. All these forms of energy come from the sea. They are of [solo?] origin and they are inexhaustible.

Studs Terkel At the same time you're speaking of a trip of the ship Calypso.

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel And the various bodies of water. Most of our planet. The Caribbean, the Amazon.

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel And what have you found? [I mean he?]. And the book is startling in your findings.

Jacques Cousteau Ah, the, well, what are you really--

Studs Terkel As to what is being done to these remarkable you know parts of our planet--

Jacques Cousteau Well [unintelligible]--

Studs Terkel The Amazon, say the Caribbean.

Jacques Cousteau Well the Caribbean is in question. At the moment we are collaborating and trying to increase our collaboration with the United Nations to organize, they are organizing and we want to help, a vast enterprise of environmental studies in the Caribbean. [Which?] the Caribbean is one of the most endangered areas of the planet. UNEP has already done its job in Mediterranean and after three or four years of hard work, United Nations Environmental Program together with the Mediterranean Commission and the Cousteau Society, we have ended up with a better understanding of the pollution problems and United Nation has succeeded in sitting together 18 Mediterranean nations, they have signed a Mediterranean action plan by which all the nations commit themselves to action and to spending such amount of money as [they?] [unintelligible].

Studs Terkel Funny you mention Mediterranean, you have a sequence on the Mediterranean.

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel I was in a French restaurant a nice restaurant about and week ago and a young waiter from southern France from Marseille. And he says, Don't eat that fish , he says, Don't. He says, I'm from that region. He says, It is so bad. I mean you were talking about this was happening so.

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel But talking now about the perils and the battle tearing things up.

Jacques Cousteau Yes and the first step, the first major step ever taken, you know to have an international action in a regional [sea?] was an [unintelligible]. The second, we want to do the same thing in the Caribbean. And that's why next year there will be a big effort of the United Nations in the Caribbean. About the Amazon I have not yet been there. We are preparing a plan for next year to spend a full year in the Amazon basin with a score of specialists.

Studs Terkel But the Amazon [we find?], is so tremendous.

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel There's a possibility--And we know there are certain developments taking place--

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel By the big multinational guys notably Ludwig--

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel This great tanker owner and builder. Now what effect would that have [you see?]?

Jacques Cousteau Well there are news from that enterprise, [that big?] enterprise, that are at the same time very catastrophic and at the same time encouraging. You know he has acquired a vast amount of land. And I think in good faith he thought that he could replace, without deforestation, that he could replace the original trees that are slowing in growing by fast growing trees to make paper industry. And he had a spent really a big portion of his fortune and made enormous efforts to have environmental studies made et cetera, et cetera. Well at the latest news showed that it is a complete failure. That the new trees refused to grow. And so the future of this experiment is unfortunately doomed. At the same time it is a lesson that we must not play apprentice sorcerer.

Studs Terkel You know [I expect?] as you talk about the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" coming back to home , fooling around with nature. We know that man--We're not putting down inventions that make life more livable of course, but we question sometimes living is better through chemistry. You have a sentence there called "living better through chemistry," [what?] the chemicals do,but you point out some early homes of those we call primitive people who were not. Early American Indian home, hogans and others, were built to fit in with nature--

Jacques Cousteau Absolutely.

Studs Terkel And not against it. And as a result it was livable and in the real sense.

Jacques Cousteau Absolutely. It's striking to see for example in Italy how artistically the old villages were blended in with nature. It's absolutely amazing. When you see in France, some parts of France also, but Italy is maybe more striking. People had time to think. They started to erect the wall and say, Well this is too high. Stop it there. And here on the contrary, [on the?] church I can a make such and such roof. And this was now decide by people coming out of the university and knowing nothing about the place and being also under pressure of time and money. So there's an entirely, a divorce of attitudes though on nature.

Studs Terkel Yeah. I know that you and your colleagues are not putting down technology.

Jacques Cousteau No no no no! On the contrary.

Studs Terkel [Unintelligible] the misuse of it.

Jacques Cousteau Misuse.

Studs Terkel Now here for example, I just point as we're talking, I turned to the "Almanac," page 249. GNP gross national product, you know, how we build. Not counting what counts. From the opening paragraph I underlined before, "The gross national product, GNP, measures money. It doesn't measure how clean water is--

Jacques Cousteau No.

Studs Terkel "How literate a population is, where the children have shoes to wear, where the infants die before their first birthday, whether workers are satisfied with their jobs and homes, where they receive more than a week's vacation a year. In fact the GNP leaves out a lot."

Jacques Cousteau It leaves out life [laughs] completely. Well you know another thing, I don't know if we say it in the "Almanac" or not, but you know what is included in the GNP gross national product?

Studs Terkel Hmm?

Jacques Cousteau The medical expenses. It means that the more you seek--The worse your health is, the greater the GNP. So there is [nothing?] [laughs]--

Studs Terkel So anti-human.

Jacques Cousteau Absolutely.

Studs Terkel Something anti-human is included.

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel As though it were something good.

Jacques Cousteau That's right. Which is absolute nonsense.

Studs Terkel So we come back to what if there is a subtext for this book it is that. It is the fact that here is the world of so many possibilities and as a result so many cumulative dangers,--

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel And you are saying the emphasis has been on the ledger rather than the flesh and blood person.

Jacques Cousteau That's right.

Studs Terkel That's what we're talking about.

Jacques Cousteau That's what we're talking about. And we want to be you know those damned humanists [laughs].

Studs Terkel All those damned, by the way this [is one of the?], the first time in years that the word humanist has in some quarters become pejorative.

Jacques Cousteau Yes [still laughing].

Studs Terkel You speak of secular humanists, a humanist, I thought a humanist was some ne who wants to--

Studs Terkel I thought this was a compliment. Until until this year, I thought this was the greatest compliment to make to someone. When we said that Leonardo da Vinci was a big humanist, we thought we were making a compliment. Not so [laughs].

Studs Terkel So we were talking about a perversion of our own interests aren't we?

Jacques Cousteau Yes.

Studs Terkel By--The "Almanac" deals with all aspects. Deals with the food, the food we're eating, and how it can be must be better. The, of the wave makers who are certainly finding certain corporate interests or the Army engineers who are doing something, or just fighting just predators generally. And you also have what happened as a result of certain oil spills--

Jacques Cousteau Mmmhmm.

Studs Terkel like the Torrey Canyon and the res--But throughout you've got the positive negative. I mean, throughout you have, underneath, you've got somebody, could be a housewife, it could be a young guy, an old retired man who leads a movement--

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel To improve a community.

Jacques Cousteau That's right.

Studs Terkel To save a river [unintelligible] tree.

Jacques Cousteau We have to spread the seed so that many of these people get active and help us.

Studs Terkel And the question is who owns--Here since who knows the sea better than you? One of the questions, who owns the sea?

Jacques Cousteau Well now some crazy diplomats sitting around the table at the [unintelligible] [Sea?] Conference have decided to cut up the sea as they would the meat of a pig and saying you know, This piece is yours, okay, and this is yours. Without thinking that instead of being a meat or ground, it's a fluid and that it flows from one place to another and nobody owns it. I tell you a story that recently happened to me. I went to Canada on this expedition on St. Lawrence River and the [name of river] River I was invited alongside the river for dinner by an Indian chief. And we set down with a few friends of mine and a few Indians around the fire on the river's edge in the evening and I across the river we could see a beautiful villa hidden in the trees. And I knew of the difficulties that the Indians had to get permission to fish in the rivers as they always had in the past. Most of the time it's because of the tourists, and tourist organization, the Canadian Tourist Organization who wants to attract fishermen from, tourist fishermen from America as tourists. And they know that to do so they want to keep as many salmon as possible and forbid the Indians to fish their salmon. In other cases the rivers have been acquired by owners who claim that they own it. So around that fire we talk about these problems and then finally he suddenly raised his voice and he said, See that house over there? There's an American living there. He claims he owns the river and I told him, If you own the river, take it back with you to the United States you know [laughter], and, because the Indians do not understand how one person can claim to own a piece of land because throughout the years they have never owned anything. They have. they were taking advantage of the land on which they were but this land did not, it was their mother, it was not their property. And you know that famous word, how can you plow the land, how can you do this [once? wounds?] in your mother's flesh? And this respect for the earth that was in--

Studs Terkel Mother Earth.

Jacques Cousteau Mother Earth.

Studs Terkel Mother Earth.

Jacques Cousteau And if you hurt your mother she will not accept you in her womb when you die. And there are beautiful traditions--

Studs Terkel You know, and since, that story is very moving. But also it's very filled with insights. Mother, how can you do this to your mother?

Jacques Cousteau That's right.

Studs Terkel You know there's a slang phrase used by kids today. That's precisely what we're doing to our mother, the earth. These guys who are doing it.

Jacques Cousteau That's right.

Studs Terkel The MFs, [you see? excuse me?]. That's precisely what they're doing to the earth [laughing]--

Jacques Cousteau Precisely what they are doing.

Studs Terkel This marvelous insight that this old Indian and you have. And the "Almanac" is, of Cousteau, the "Cousteau Almanac" is filled with them. As you were talking about that I just flipped to a page, 578, and the courageous judge of Otranto. These are the wave makers again.

Jacques Cousteau Ah yes. [Mara Tati?].

Studs Terkel [The city?]--

Jacques Cousteau That's my friend [Mara Tati?].

Studs Terkel [Mara Tati?], now what's remarkable about this judge is this he was the hero--

Jacques Cousteau Yeah.

Studs Terkel Of Henrik Ibsen's play "Enemy of the People," written a century ago; I mean the same kind of man. It's about a town he lives in and he says the water's polluted. Now the people of the town make their money from tourists [to be?] angry but he won the battle.

Jacques Cousteau That's right.

Studs Terkel Now in "Enemy of the People" in a small town in Norway there's a distinguished doctor like this judge, Dr. Stockmann. The town is known for it's spa--

Jacques Cousteau Dr. Stockmann?

Studs Terkel That's, I know. It's an unfortunate choice of name at the moment.

Jacques Cousteau [laughs]

Studs Terkel He is no relation to young David who has more than a [unintelligible]. But anyway, Dr. Stockmann is respected in the community. The community makes its money as a spa for the tourists. He uses the spa, he makes a discovery one day. The spa is poisoned.

Jacques Cousteau The spa is poisoned?

Studs Terkel Yeah so he said, We must close it. The doctor made this discovery that there's poison in the waters and they didn't know it. Polluted. And so he says--This is in the play, enemy, and so, he says Let's close it. You know until it's clear. People are furious cause their profits will be taken away. So they stone him. So he makes a speech at the end. He, just because you are the majority at this moment doesn't mean you're right, you see. But he was the, he was sticking to his guns even though he lost respect and security [unintelligible]. So here is in real life, Judge [Mara Tati?].

Jacques Cousteau In doing exactly that.

Studs Terkel And who won so there's hope.

Jacques Cousteau He won. There is hope. There is hope.

Studs Terkel This is what were--So the--

Jacques Cousteau You know you know--

Studs Terkel Yes?

Jacques Cousteau The end of that story is not in the "Almanac" because it's recent. After [Mara Tati?] had won the battle, with our help to a certain extent, we helped [unintelligible], another ship sank off Sardinia loaded with terrible poisons. It was less than three months before the Italian government decided to spend millions of dollars recovering the poison from the bottom of the sea. So it has created a precedent. At least in Italy, and I am tying to get the Italian precedents to the rest of the world so that if something like this happens elsewhere the governments will feel obliged to do at least as well as the Italians.

Studs Terkel You know this book is a hopeful book. It is a book of warning--

Jacques Cousteau Warning and hope, yes.

Studs Terkel Because you speak of Donora, Pennsylvania and the smog, and the deaths in London, and Love Canal, and the oil spills of the ships and the food and--At the same time it is dotted throughout with Judge [Mara Tati?]s and Petes and others and. So I was thinking at the very end, we're just touching very lightly on the "Almanac," you speak of the dolphins. We touched on them, the strategy the dolphins. If you would read that perhaps. All we've done is touch on this book, "The Cousteau Almanac," and it's a Doubleday Dolphin the publishers and my guest is Captain Jacques Yves Cousteau. Suppose you were to read "The Strategy of Dolphins," from that into Pete's song and we have a combination of the two. That ordinary people can by working together and learning what it's about, it's easy to learn and to can perhaps save our environment. Before that anything you feel like saying we haven't talked about?

Jacques Cousteau You want me to read this?

Studs Terkel Yes but before that anything, any, we've just--

Jacques Cousteau Well we are we are betting, we are making an enormous bet at the Cousteau Society. We are betting on the wiseness of [everybody?], of the intelligence, of the sensitivity and the courage of people. We're not betting on any other thing. We're not lobbying anybody else than the man in the street. So if they agree I would love them to become apostles to preach [around them?] and to spread the ideas. To spread some of the information and this almanac and others wherever they can get right information, spread it throughout the world. Well, here we have ended with "The Strategy of the Dolphin." "It is an unavoidable fact of international life that the decision makers in governments everywhere are most influenced by vested interests with extravagant lobbying budgets and by organizations with enormous memberships. Those of us who love the sea, who recognize the blood relationship before of all Earth's being, who see on this water planet a growing threat to our most fundamental biological machinery, to not command the money and power of even a single major multinational corporation. But we can wield the formidable power of our numbers, the strength of a great unified crowd of citizens of the planet. How sad and how alarming is the rate of environmental devastation. We ourselves are increasingly threatened by toxic debris and lethal miscalculation. It is unbelievable. It is unacceptable. We must stop this stupidity and the most effective weapon we have as citizens, as parents is the sheer force of our numbers. That is the strategy of the dolphin. When threatened by an animal armed with greater strength and size, pursued by a large shark a pack of dolphins will suddenly turn en masse, dive below the shark and [drive?] their blunt noses into its belly one after another. It is the perfect strategy. With no ribs or diaphragm to protect his vital organs, the shark is vulnerable. For all of its power the shark is defeated by intelligence and the force of numbers. It is the weaponry of the peacemakers and the common people throughout history. Let me offer a final thought for all the darkness that presently confront to us and our descendants. There is no reasons to give up. There is every reason to take up the fight because we have within our grasp the power of the people to force the right decisions. The more people, the more power, the more hope. [Music]