From Thu Apr 25 16:30:06 2002
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 97 23:10:01 CDT
From: (Jonathan Prince)
Subject: Cousteau Memoirs Predict End of Earth
Organization: Ohio University C.S. Dept, Athens
Article: 13703
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Cousteau delivers posthumous attack on human greed

By Ben MacIntyre, The Times (London), 30 June 1997

JACQUES COUSTEAU, the celebrated French underwater explorer who died last week, has issued an apocalyptic message from the grave, warning that the natural world he worked to reveal is being devasted by man's greed and stupidity.

M Cousteau spent 20 years writing his memoirs and completed his “last testament” days before his death last Wednesday at the age of 87.

The 400-page autobiography, to be published tomorrow on the day of a grand memorial service for M Cousteau in Notre Dame Cathedral, is an impassioned plea in defence of the environment coupled with a dire prediction of the globe's future.

“Our survival is only a question of 25, 50 or perhaps 100 years,” the oceanographer warns in The Man, the Octopus and the Orchid. “It is absurd and dangerous for those who live in prosperity to think that the world economy is a cycle and that its riches will circulate for ever. Unrenewable resources are being squandered. Waste is building up. Valuable goods are vanishing while rubbish thrives.”

M Cousteau, who won multiple honours for his scientific films and books from governments around the globe, attacks politicians, scientists and world leaders with particular venom. “They pocket the cash without looking ahead, writing cheques our descendants will pay for in the centuries to come. With their pesticides and their pollution, their toxic discharges and the certainty of mutual destruction …the scientific experts have hidden the harsh reality: they will decide whether we live or die.”

But his doom-laden prophecies also contain flashes of optimism, as the veteran explorer lays out his personal recipe for self-fulfilment: “Bring a child into the world, write a book, assemble a machine, build a chair. Those who create have the sensation of playing a role larger than themselves. Those who make no effort to create … will be nothing.”

Comparing M Cousteau to the 17th-century poet Jean de La Fontaine, Francis Puyalte wrote in Le Figaro: “He has revealed himself with his last breath as one of the great moralists of the end of the millennium.” But Jean-Michel Cousteau, the oceanographer's son and fellow conservationist who fell out with his father in 1995 over the use of the family name, said he was “profoundly shocked the book will be published so few days after his death. It is intolerable that the public might see this as a bit of editorial publicity.”