When it comes to addressing climate change, the Earth's oceans need to have a larger role in our efforts to combat the crisis, according to Phillippe and Ashlan Cousteau, co-authors of Oceans for Dummies, and the sea is in fact "central" to the discussion.
"When you think about our planet, 71 percent is ocean, so right there we have a lot of space to cover. And really, our ocean has done us a huge service by actually absorbing about a third of the carbon emissions that we have put into our atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels," Ashlan Cousteau said.
She explained that while the ocean acts as one of our first lines of defense, it has become overwhelmed, the waters have become acidic, and as a result, crucial resources at the bottom of the food chain have been significantly impacted.
The couple also agreed that one of the biggest misconceptions about the ocean is that it's "too big to fail" but in reality, it is already failing. One of the biggest indicators that the oceans are in dire need of restoration is the fact that they are warming.
"In some cases, we talk about climate 'weirding' or certainly climate change, it's because of the function of the ocean and how it moves heat around the planet. As it's warming, that is being impeded and thus our entire planet is changing with disastrous consequences," noted Phillippe, the grandson of legendary undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau.
Furthermore, not only are humans distorting the physical makeup of the ocean, we are also depleting food resources through excessive fishing, said the duo.
The couple heads up the nonprofit organization EarthEcho International where the mission is to empower global youth populations and educate them so they can set out to "restore and protect the ocean and planet."
"Fundamentally, what it's about is recognizing the next generation is optimistic and determined, and we can't build an effective global environmental movement and grow that movement without targeting education and youth empowerment," Phillippe said.
As President Joe Biden hosts world leaders in a virtual climate summit to establish goals to keep warming at bay, the Cousteaus are hoping the role oceans play in the fight against climate change gets prioritized.
"I think that a lot of times the ocean has been left out of our planet conversation, out of our save the planet, and out of the climate crisis," Ashlan said. "So, we really do hope that people are coming around, and we think that they are. Literally, there is a wave of people that see the ocean now as one of our best ways to save us."