The Largest Climate Catastrophe That No One Knows About

Oct 19, 2023 8:00 AM ET

by Ashlan Cousteau and Philippe Cousteau Jr.

For three generations, our family has pioneered the protection and restoration of our ocean. Usually, that meant working in education, producing documentaries, or writing books. But over the past decade, we have come to realize that unless society builds financial systems that incentivize positive social and environmental outcomes and the corresponding economic opportunities for people, we will never solve the mounting environmental crisis facing our planet.

With that in mind, we have expanded our work into entrepreneurship by founding a company called SeaVoir Wellness that is designed to actively restore the ocean and help solve the biggest climate catastrophe that no one knows about.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s start at the beginning. Two years ago, on an unseasonably warm day in Antarctica we jumped into our zodiacs to head out and conduct water quality testing near a glacier. It was the first day of our expedition and though we were warned about the changes we would encounter but we were shocked to see the impacts of climate change all around us. Not only the obvious changes, like retreating glaciers, but also the less obvious ones, like reduced salinity and warm water temperatures. Changes that are wreaking havoc on the Antarctic ecosystem.

Our trip was part of a multi-year campaign to establish three new marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean. As members of Antarctica 2020, a global group that is tasked with advocating for these MPA’s we were excited to witness the beauty of the white continent with our own eyes and gather media to support the campaign. Covering a total of 7 million square kilometers in the Weddell Sea, the East Antarctic and the Antarctic Peninsula, these three MPAs are some of the richest and most important ocean areas in the world and would result in the single largest act of conservation in human history.

Specifically, these three areas would focus on protecting key habitats for krill. And while most people have no idea what krill are, from their impact on global climate systems to ocean biodiversity, it is no understatement to say that krill are the superheroes of the ocean.

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