Climate Change Warnings in the 1970s – Documentary for Contenders – Deadline

become a Cousteau director Liz Garbus said her documentary on ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau shows that he recognized the dangers of climate change decades ago. Garbus spoke with Deadline’s Matthew Carey at Contenders Documentary.

“We saw him talk about it as early as 1971,” Garbus said. “When he started talking about coral reefs, he started talking about fish species that were no longer the areas he was diving in. And so, through first-hand experience, he started to worry about the undersea world.”

Cousteau attended the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro as one of the few non-state heads invited to speak. By then, he had a lot more to warn polluters about.

“He [was] really gave that global audience a chance to sound the alarm for the protection of the oceans, which he rightly saw as fully tied to the survival of humanity,” Garbus said.

Early in his career, Cousteau helped oil companies map offshore drilling sites. But the Frenchman expressed regret for helping with the environmental pollution that resulted from the practice.

“He said he was told he was responsible for Abu Dhabi’s great wealth,” Garbus said. “I’m sure that’s an exaggeration. I’m sure that wealth had many facets, but yes, he was part of it and he regretted it and rejected oil companies and their disregard for regulation.”

become a Cousteau also includes underwater footage captured by Cousteau, now restored to 4K quality. Garbus said she hopes new viewers hear his message.

“He is important because for the past 50 years he has raised the alarm about the undersea world and our need to protect it,” Garbus said. “Of course that has only become more urgent. And also as a beloved voice that could unite people of all factions to find out about this love for our planet and want to protect it. That voice is very absent and needed today.”

Garbus, who screened the film at festivals such as Telluride and Toronto, said many viewers are frustrated to learn that Cousteau, who died in 1997 at age 87, was already aware of environmental issues that have yet to be addressed.

“There’s been a sense of outrage like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe he’s been saying this since the ’70s — how is it taking so long?'” Garbus said.

become a Cousteau now playing in limited release. It will premiere on Disney+ on November 24.

Come back Tuesday for the panel video.

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