The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus: Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World
by Jacques Cousteau and Susan Schiefelbein
In this magnificent last book, finally available for the first time in the United States, Cousteau describes his deeply informed philosophy about protecting our world for future generations. Weaving gripping stories of his adventures throughout, he and coauthor Susan Schiefelbein address the risks we take with human health, the overfishing and sacking of the world’s oceans, the hazards of nuclear proliferation, and the environmental responsibility of scientists, politicians, and people of faith.
Cousteau’s lyrical, passionate call for action to protect our earth and seas and their myriad life forms is even more relevant today than when this book was completed in 1996. Written over the last ten years of his life with frequent collaborator Schiefelbein, who also introduces the text and provides an update on environmental developments in the decade since Cousteau’s death, this prescient, clear-sighted book is a remarkable testament to the life and work of one of our greatest modern adventurers.
Review By Kay Cumbow
There is a remarkable hardcover book on sale at the bookstores just in time for Christmas written by Jacques Cousteau and Susan Schiefelbein titled: "The Human, the Orchid and the Octopus - Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World." Bill McKibben has written a superb foreward. On the inside jacket cover: " The legendary Ocean Explorer's Passionate Plea for Sustaining Life on Earth." "...In this magnificent last book, available for the first time in the United States, Cousteau describes his deeply informed philosophy about protecting our world for future generations."
There is one whole chapter devoted to nukes titled: "The Hot Peace: Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Energy" that is 58 pages long, and well worth your time to read. He had written about nukes in earlier books, but many libraries no longer carry those tomes. It was while reading one of his books in a Michigan library years ago, that I first learned that plutonium crosses the placenta. Snap this up, it is worth every penny! (All of the chapters, not just the one on nuclear) It was 20% off at Barnes and Noble.
Snip: " Then suddenly I was an innocent no longer. Crackling over the headphones came the voices of a few technicians who urged that irradiated waste be cast into the sea. Their nations, they boasted, had even sunk some loads of radioactive waste already....I resolved not ...to be swept along in the uproar. After all, I thought, one of the world's preeminent marine scientists was scheduled to appear the next day; certainly he would put an end to all discussion of ocean dumping. When the illustrious expert arrived, I brought him to my home for lunch, where several of the distinguished international specialists, including officers of the IAEA, joined us....Someone mentioned ocean dumping. Our celebrated guest expert settle back comfortably in his chair. 'The sea, ' he began, 'being obviously the natural receptacle for atomic wastes...' Now my heart raced. I'd spent years diving among the ocean's astonishing life, fragile life, improbable life....How, I asked, could he even imagine allowing seas to steep in radioactive poisons?....Before that day, my career had been governed by my love for the sea. After that day, I devoted myself to defending the sea....Nearly forty years have passed. Nations passed the 1994 amendment to the London Convention, banning all ocean dumping of nuclear wastes."
There is, of course, much more. He ends by saying: "We cannot merely ban the production of fissionable materials; we must ban their existence, ban plutonium and highly enriched uranium on Earth. A world without atomic bombs, atomic terrorism, and atomic contamination can be achieved only by a world without atomic energy. Si vis pacem, para bellum declared the Romans; if you want peace, prepare for war. Throughout history , humans have obeyed the dictum and have failed. If we want peace in the twenty-first century, we should prepare for peace.The leader who uses the bomb will destroy the world. But the one who finds a way to ban the bomb will rule it."
Good words to quote for the rest of our lives.
Citizens for a Healthy Planet, and
Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination
8735 Maple Grove Road
Lake, MI 48632