AUSTIN -- Philippe Cousteau Jr. delivered a message of warning and hope in Thursday's keynote address to the inaugural SXSW Eco Conference, a gathering devoted to environmental and sustainability issues.
The social entrepreneur and environmental advocate cautioned that our addiction to fossil fuel is about more than what we pay at the gas pump. Cousteau believes it is "killing our children," pointing to increasing rates of allergies and asthma due to air pollution.
"Every human being, whether they know it or not, whether they care are not, their lives are being impacted by what happens in the Arctic."
The grandson of legendary explorer and ecologist Jacques Cousteau, Philippe Cousteau says the issue of climate change is not just environmental conservation but human conservation. One billion people live without an adequate supply of clean water. With dwindling natural resources and an expanding population, "water and energy are the two greatest challenges we face today...Our demand for energy is growing at a horrifying rate...We live in a world facing challenges we never, ever had to face before."
Cousteau said the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico isn't going away and Prince William Sound is still devastated by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. However, he believes oil companies can be part of the solution, along with stronger and stricter regulations regarding industrial pollution.
Cousteau's EarthEcho International is about empowering youth to take action to protect the planet's water. He encouraged the audience at SXSW Eco to be vigilant in their communities, vote for candidates who care about the environment and conservation, and make small changes in the food,energy and products they consume.
"All of your choices have consequences...The environment, if we take care of it, will give back to us forever."
By the end of the year Cousteau expects to launch an exchange traded fund, AdvisorShares Global Echo (ticker GIVE on the NYSE), designed to be a core holding in an investment portfolio. A portion of its management fee will fund The Global Echo Foundation. Its mission is to help fund solutions to global social issues impacting women and children to environmental conservation, as well as supporting social entrepreneurship.