Alexandra Cousteau — Expedition Blue Planet 2010

Alexandra Cousteau

Alexandra Cousteau onstage at the Bagdad Theatre for Expedition Blue Planet 2010

July 21, 2010, Bagdad Theatre, Portland Oregon

Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau, continues her family legacy with another journey, a 138-day interactive tour of the US, Canada and Mexico, to explore critical water issues. Accompanied by a production crew who film, broadcast, blog, and edit on a biodiesel bus, Ms. Cousteau will travel more than 14,500 miles to film water problems and host community watershed programs. The tour includes coverage of the dwindling Colorado River, the Gulf Coast plagued by the BP Oil Spill, the Great Lakes that are experiencing hot temperatures and low levels, Chesapeake Bay suffering from stormwater pollution and sewage, and the Tennessee Valley where coal ash and mountaintop removal mining poison the water.

On Day 20 of the tour that started in Washington DC, the crew appeared at the Bagdad Theatre in Portland after traveling from Vancouver BC. The Portland stop was sponsored by Willamette Riverkeeper, where Ms. Cousteau discussed the project, showed film footage, and fielded questions from the audience. The Blue Legacy project was started in 2008 by Ms. Cousteau as a dedication to her grandfather’s famous call, “You have to go and see.”

Biodiesel bus used by the tour, parked outside the Bagdad theatre. The bus was formerly owned by Sir Paul McCartney

Biodiesel bus used by the tour, parked outside the Bagdad theatre. The bus was formerly owned by Sir Paul McCartney

Last year, Blue Legacy traveled 100 days across five continents to study global water problems, discovering similar themes among various cultures: water is a source of spirituality, conflict, and the basis of agribusiness. From the Ganges in India, the plains of Botswana, the Jordan River in Israel and Palestine, and the Cajun lands of the lower Mississippi River, a universal statement recorded from people of all these cultures shows how humanity has common ties, regardless of age, status, or religion: “Water is life.”

The Blue Legacy project teaches the lesson that “We are all downstream from one another.” Meaning, when anyone pollutes the water, it adversely affects everyone else along the stream.

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is the one of the largest oxygen deprived ocean locations on the planet — it is the size of the state of New Jersey, and is caused by agricultural runoff along the Mississippi River. The great Colorado River, drained by thirsty regions such as Las Vegas, has not reached its delta and has not flowed to the ocean for 12 years.

Members of the Rosemere Neighborhood Association attending Ms. Cousteau’s presentation asked her about the increased occurrences of toxic algal blooms in surface water across the country, as has been experienced at Vancouver Lake and Lacamas Lake in Vancouver. Ms. Cousteau mentioned that red tides kill manatees, fish and sicken people in Florida, and that algal blooms are increasing due to stormwater pollution across the country. She urged everyone to contact their congressmen and elected officials to demand that municipalities increase programs to alleviate pollutant discharges to waterways.

Expedition Blue Planet 2010 will end in Washington DC on November 12.

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