Alexandra Cousteau joins an Earth Conservation Core patrol on the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Blue Legacy, LLC
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FL: Tell me about your book This Blue Planet.

AC: It will talk about the different human faces of our global water crisis and how our lives are touched in all these different ways by water—not just the water you drink or grow food with, but also the water we use for our religious rites and the water we use for recreation and all the different ways that we depend on water that we forget. And really looking at the idea that water is our most important life support system and the vehicle through which we'll feel the effects of climate change.

We are connected to water in three primary ways. The first is the watershed that we live in. The second is through the community that we are part of. And thirdly, at a global level, through the interconnectedness of the hydrasphere and the water cycle, and the idea that we live in a world where water is constantly flowing and in flux. Toxic polluting emissions in China, through the water cycle, end up as acid rain in Texas. There is a very global aspect to water that we can't neglect.

People here in the United States have this vague idea that the water crisis affects "poor people" "over there." And yet it's very, very much impacting us here. Our water supplies in the future are going to be severely compromised if we don't start managing water in a way that protects the water that we have and prevents waste.

That's actually the expedition that we are embarking on in July—we'll be on the road from July through November—a 1,450-mile journey around North America looking at global issues that are happening in our own backyard. We'll be doing that from a tour bus outfitted with a mobile work stations and editing suite. And we'll actually be producing videos and blogs and photo galleries on a daily basis, talking to people who have community action days. We'll stop in communities and help them clean up a river or go to a university or get engaged and help raise funds for initiatives. That's going to be a 135-day project that will be an official National Geographic expedition.

We'll be distributing our media through a whole network of media partners that includes over 30,000 websites and blogs. That's our way of bringing water issues home to people and helping them understand that the water crisis is happening here as well, and it's up to all of us to take action on it.

FL: Are there any trends that give you hope for the rejuvenation of oceans and rivers?

AC: I told you about the huge growth of Mother Nature Network. Who would have thought that would be possible five years ago? It's a great website, but I think that success also speaks to a real thirst for people to have access to information. They really see it as a lifestyle issue and not a political issue, and that gives me great hope because we need people on both sides of the aisle to be really meaningfully engaged in the debate and the dialogue and the conversation. We need more conversations happening. The more people we have talking about these issues, the better chance we'll have of actually getting people to participate in the solutions and get involved.

Environmentalists all by themselves are not going to solve these issues; these are issues that we have to work on together. And I think young people are really engaged and find great meaning in taking care of the environment. They intuitively understand that as our environment degrades, so does our quality of life. I talk with kids all the time who are just so excited, not just about our expeditions and the adventures that we have, but also about being part of it and getting involved and doing things in their own communities. That's really exciting.

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