Guest Blog: Philippe Cousteau – Climate Dialogue Must Include Food Waste and the Oceans

Posted on July 31, 2015

Philippe Cousteau

Today’s guest blogger, Philippe Cousteau.

Today, I’m pleased to turn my blog over to Philippe Cousteau, the son of Philippe Cousteau Sr. and grandson of Jacques Cousteau and author, speaker and founder of Earth Echo International.

We face a future where water will be the new oil. By 2025, the United Nations says that two thirds of the world will live in a water-distressed area. Eliminating food waste is one way to preserve this precious natural resource, from the freshwater we use to grow crops to the oceans where we find our food. Below, Cousteau explains why food waste and the protection of our oceans must both be a part of the climate dialogue.

Many in the world take food for granted, while at the same time more than 800 million people go hungry every day. While avoiding food waste will go a long way toward fighting hunger the environmental benefits are equally important. Consider water scarcity, widely considered one of the largest environmental challenges facing us in the 21st century. More water is used to grow food we throw away than is wasted in any other way by any country on Earth.

But waste is not confined to land, it is rampant in the ocean as well. Simply by fixing unsustainable fisheries we could feed up to an additional 1 billion people and save nearly 100 billion dollars. Food is just one example of the myriad of resources and functions the oceans provide us, from oxygen to weather regulation. In many ways the oceans are a proxy for the problems we are trying to solve. They are a complex system and thus a powerful example of how we MUST connect the dots and recognize that all of these issues are related, from climate change, to energy, to fisheries to feeding the hungry.

Indeed, food waste would rank third in the world for greenhouse gas emissions if it was measured as a country. Yet, much like oceans, it is largely missing in the climate dialogue…that needs to change. Scientists estimate up to one-third of the carbon we emit is absorbed by oceans causing them to become more acidic. This acidification of the ocean is having catastrophic effects on the food chain by limiting and in some cases preventing shell-based organisms such as plankton, oysters, crabs and coral from growing their shells. Today, in the Pacific Northwest alone, acidification is killing billions of sea creatures and costing hundreds of millions of dollars to local economies.

It is imperative that we raise awareness of the social, environmental and economic impact of food waste. It is a critical action that – as individuals, countries and the world community – we can take to improve the lives of people, combat climate change and help protect and restore our oceans.

-Philippe Cousteau

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