08 Jun #87 The Ocean: From Exploration to Conservation | Philippe and Ashlan Cousteau
The ocean should be at the center of every conversation involving saving our planet. The sad reality is that most of us aren’t literate in the inner workings of the sea. It doesn’t help that our government spends billions of dollars exploring space, but only a fraction of that time and money focusing on the ocean. It’s time to change that.
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Phillipe and Ashlan are carrying on the Cousteau legacy by bringing ocean education to the children.
Husband and wife environmentalists and conservationists Philippe and Ashlan Cousteau travel the world searching for stories that continue the Cousteau legacy and help us understand more about our oceans. The couple has hosted multiple television shows on the subject and recently co-authored Oceans for Dummies, which was released in February of 2021. Their non-profit EarthEco inspires kids to get involved with saving the planet with adventure, storytelling and STEM education.
These two are doing amazing work and I was so excited to have them on my show. I can’t even tell you how inspiring Jacques Cousteau was to me growing up, so this was an extra special episode for me. I can safely say his grandson Phillipe is doing him proud with the vital work he and his wife are doing for our oceans. We chat about the importance of ocean education for all and why it’s severely lacking. We also talk about the incredible resilience of nature and what we all can learn from it. Even if you’ve never heard of the Cousteau name before (doubtful, but possible, I suppose), this episode will open your eyes to the importance of our planet’s oceans.
ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:
- The Cousteau legacy
- What Ashlan brings to the table
- The importance of ocean literacy through education
- Nature’s resilience
- How you can get involved
Instagram: @pcousteau @ashlancousteau
Facebook: @philippecousteau @ashlangorsecousteau
Twitter: @pcousteau @ashlancousteau
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Darin: You are listening to the Darin Olien Show. I’m Darin. I spent the last 15 years exploring the planet looking for healthy foods, superfoods, environmental solutions, and I’ve had my mind blown along the way by the people, the far off places I have been, and the life-altering events that have changed my life forever. My goal is to help you dive deep into some of the issues of our modern-day life, society’s fatal conveniences. The things that we do that we’re indoctrinated into thinking we have to, even though those things are negatively affecting us, and in some cases, slowly destroying us and even killing us. Every week, I have honest conversations with people that inspire me. My hope is through their knowledge and unique perspectives they’ll inspire you too. Together, we’ll explore how you can make small tweaks in your life that amount to big changes for you, the people around you and the planet, so let’s do this. This is my show, the Darin Olien Show.
Darin: Hey, everybody, welcome to the show. This is Darin Olien. This is The Darin Olien Show. I’m stoked to have you here. I’m grateful for the time that you’re spending listening to the podcast, to download and apply information, inspiration from my guests, and this one will not disappoint. This is Phillipe and Ashlan Cousteau. For all of you that were inspired as youth for Jacques Cousteau’s incredible work of bringing the ocean into our lives and developed and invented the scuba system, this is the grandson, Philippe Cousteau and Ashlan Cousteau are stewards themselves in a powerful way of the ocean. And they’ve been in and around it all of their lives. And they have multiple television shows Nuclear Sharks for Discovery Channel’s the Shark Week. This one’s really cool, Caribbean Pirate Treasure on the Travel Channel. Come on, who doesn’t want to be with them discovering pirates of the Caribbean treasures. And also Ashlan took on a big task of writing a book, obviously, they co-authored but Philippe will be the first one to tell you that she mostly took it on herself. And they just released a book called Oceans for Dummies, an incredible book diving into literally information and inspiration about the ocean and the power that it is and the incredible ecosystem that it’s contributing to the entire planet. So check that out. They have an incredible nonprofit called Earth Echo, where they’re really reaching out to a lot of youth in many countries providing content, immersive experiences, how great is that? Trusted resources that are free of charge for the youth. We all need that. I was inspired by his grandfather when I grew up. I had a frickin blast talking with these two powerhouses. I definitely want to do things with them in the future. So really enjoy this heartwarming powerful conversation about the oceans, about the earth, about us all being stewards. So hook in and hold on and enjoy this great conversation with Philippe and Ashlan Cousteau.
Darin: I’m so stoked. I mean, I’m another person that you’ve heard this a billion times, probably a billion in one time now that I grew up watching your grandfather, for sure. You know, being 50 now, I definitely was in that pocket when I was a kid. So I’m stoked to talk with you. And it’s not necessary as a child and as a grandkid and as a legacy that you do what it is that you do. So, you’ve made that choice and clearly, now you and Ashlan are, this is in you, you’re all about it. You’re involved in all of your own little docu-series and documentaries and pirate hunting, hell, that’s going to challenge, I think I have a good job. That’s challenging me a little bit. That sounds pretty good. But also the shark awareness and all of this stuff that you’re doing, it’s such a pleasure to connect with people that clearly have their trajectory in their life aligned with their heart and their passion towards something that is in our face that needs support. And, dare I say, one of the most important things in the world for us to do, the health of ourselves and the health of the planet. So, all that being said, stoked to talk to you both, and thank you for everything you’re doing.
Philippe: Well, thank you. We always love spending time with kindred spirits and people as committed as we are and doing extraordinary work around the world.
Ashlan: Yeah, and it’s funny Darin that you mentioned that our work is full of purpose because this is technically my second career. My first career, I was an entertainment journalist and I covered the Oscars and the Golden Globes, and I’ve interviewed every single celebrity from Meryl Streep to Brad Pitt to Clooney, and I loved it. It was my dream job. I mean, it was absolutely my dream job. But about seven years in, it was the same time that I met Philippe, about seven years in, and I got the 7-year itch. I loved my job, but it was missing purpose. And it was just a perfect timing for me, and thank goodness Philippe came into my life at that time because you can love what you do, but if you don’t find purpose in it, it’s empty. So I thank you for saying that because it’s true. I feel like there are so many people out there that are in jobs, that are good jobs, and that they can pay their bills, that they’re lucky enough to be able to do that, but if they don’t have a purpose, there’s that part of you that’s always missing.
Darin: And it’s not so easy. Meaning that, on the one hand of sacrifice from the normalcy, and you can put that in air quotes, whatever that means to people, because in quintessential, I mean, hell, you didn’t come from that family but for many people, they’re in the box. And with every intention the parents want their kids to have a successful life but no one really, very few exceptions, teaches you how to kind of lead from the heart and then through the brain and through the the kind of the assistant of the brain and the mental side of things to assist yourself in the kind of a fulfilling life and call what you want, that’s kind of learning from life slapping the hell out of you because that’s gonna happen. And then what do you want to do with that information?
Philippe: Right on. We live in this really strange and destructive cycle where on one hand, society teaches us that how big your house is, how fast your car is, those are the things that will bring you happiness. And yet, they are so clearly not. And yet, that’s our economy, our whole system is built on we got to make stuff and buy stuff. And unfortunately, the linear economic model we have where you do, you extract, you build, you buy, and then you throw out is devastating our planet, devastating our health, devastating us. And yet, what brings us the contradiction is that what brings us joy and happiness is doing for others is having purpose as Ashlan said in life. And so reconciling those two is difficult. And it’s that journey, Darin, that you just referred to I think that so many people struggle with is going well, societies teach me one thing, school and the economy, and how we live is teach me one thing, and those aren’t making me happy. There’s no secret that a lot of celebrities reach fame, and you find the ones, many of them, then go off and look for some purpose. George Clooney is a great example. His extraordinary work in Darfur and funding satellites, doing work in human rights. These are people that recognize that fame and fortune aren’t the path to happiness, but in fact, it’s helping others and again, finding purpose that achieves that. And so for us, it’s trying to reconcile those two things that help people connect those dots and make the world a better place because that’s the journey we can all join in on and be a part of. And that’s the good news, is that we all have within us the power no matter who we are, no matter what we do to achieve greatness by helping others.
Darin: Yeah. So I mean, let’s get into the fun of some of this stuff that you guys are doing. It’s so cool to see. All of these things are active for you. I mean, I’m not gonna say how you got into this, but how about we do that because there’s a lot of younger kids listening to this, listening to me. I got the opportunity to be able to see your grandfather get exposed to your father and now, thank you for coming on board here. Talk to me through like a little bit of that legacy and the seeds that got planted and now the sprouting that you’re doing in the world.
Philippe: Listen, Darin, context is always a good thing. So you remind people because my grandfather hasn’t been— his shows have been on TV for a while. And there’s a younger generation that doesn’t necessarily understand or remember what he did, but it was 77 years ago. So think about that, like one lifetime ago, that my grandfather was a co-inventor of what they called at the time, the Aqua-Lung or what we call scuba diving now. And I want to put that into context into how remarkable that was because for millennia, human beings have been exploring the land, of course, and the surface of the ocean. But prior to that invention, the only way that human beings could explore the ocean was through freediving. So the breath hold diving, essentially, which you’re limited to a few minutes at best. And diving with those big copper-hard helmets, right? You have big lead boots and a hose connecting you to the surface, you were limited how deep you could go and you’d be clomping around to the bottom. You couldn’t swim so much weight on you. And that was really limited to military at the time, salvage diving and things like that.
Ashlan: And Cuba Gooding Jr.
Darin: Great movie, love that movie.
Philippe: Great movie. And so when my grandfather invented scuba diving, it was the first time people could swim freely in the ocean. And he’s subsequently invented underwater cameras and underwater documentaries and films like The Silent World and World Without Sun and all these stuff. And then his documentary series, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, they came out around 1968 was a revelation because for most people, again, hard to imagine, our great grandparents and grandparents didn’t grow up with images of Nemo and sharks and coral reefs. Nobody knew what any of this stuff looked like. All we knew about the ocean was what we pulled out in food and what we dumped it in trash. And so this was, as opposed to humanity’s millennia long exploration of the land, we’ve really only been exploring the ocean for not even 8 decades, not even 80 years. So it’s pretty incredible when you think about how far we’ve come, and yet how far we still have to go. His documentaries around the world to the 1970s, ’80s, and even the ’90s was the first time that for most people to see a walrus, a coral reef, a shark, dolphin swimming underwater, any of that, and it was a revelation. So that’s kind of where I came from. My grandfather, when he started out, it was really about exploration. It was really about understanding what existed out there, but pretty quickly, within a relatively short timeframe, say 20 years from the 1940s to the 1960s, at which point my father, Philippe Senior got involved. It shifted from being about exploration because in that time period, they already were witnessing this post-war economic boom that caused massive degradation and destruction of the environment, huge population growth, and resource extraction, and explosion of oil and gas and fossil fuels. And my father went to my grandfather sometime in the late 1960s, and said, you know, this can’t just be about exploration, this has to be about conservation. So every step of the way, they were at the forefront of this movement. And Ted Turner calls, he refers to my grandfather, the father of the modern environmental movement. And I think about my generation now, my grandfather’s generation was about exploration, my father’s was about conservation, I think about my generation now as a generation of participation. This idea that we all now understand that the serious consequences that we’re facing with ocean collapse and half the biodiversity on earth disappearing in 40 years with climate change, all these crises that are existential threats threatening our very existence on this planet, realize that we all have to come together. We’re all in this together. And when we talk about protecting coral reefs, and forests, and all these things, we’re talking about protecting ourselves, we’re talking about the future of our children. And so that’s what’s exciting to me is that we see with young people, we talked about young people earlier, and we’re seeing new generations recognize that health of the planet and the health of people are inextricably linked. And that was the message and the work of my family for three generations now.
Ashlan: But Darin, I also want to say something that I think is so interesting. It wasn’t just that Jacques Cousteau was an incredible inventor, or that he had these amazing ideas and he had Calypso the ship and he had flying saucers, he was like a James Bond of his day, right? He also was an incredible– so he was an incredible inventor, he was an incredible showman, and he was also an incredible marketer. Because when you go back and you watch the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, I mean, it was translated, I think, into 12 different languages. It was shown into almost every country of the world, some of them, they still show it today. Like Zimbabwe, you can still go and the show is still on. But to put it into context for people that didn’t grow up with Jacques, in the late ’60s, early ’70s, and this is where my background comes in. Jacques Cousteau tied as the most famous person on the planet with the sitting Pope and Philippe Senior was number four or five. So it just comes to show like this– and back then there were only a few networks on television. So, I mean, every Sunday night, as a kid, which you probably remember, I mean, people would go to their television and watch. And I mean, they would get ratings that the Superbowl would be happy to get today. So it’s one thing. And you didn’t just tune into the shows to to go learn about walrus or octopus or sharks, you also went on because it was a fun story about the crew. And it was a story about Jacques and his son, Philippe, and these cute crew of Frenchmen with tans and little bathing suits going around the world and running out of water and running out of wine and smoking cigarettes on the submarine. I mean, it truly was one of the first reality shows in television, but it was a reality show for good. And I always like to put that into context to people because I think if you didn’t grow up knowing what a phenomenon it was, I mean, truly today, there really is nothing that would be as famous because there’s so much content out there. And honestly, that’s why Philippe and I do so many projects because we realize that in Jacques’ day, your audience came to you. But in today’s world, we have to find the audience, we have to go to the audience. And so I think that’s a big difference is how do you make saving the world fun and exciting and full of adventure so you get people excited? And as you mentioned before, we always have this mission of hope because if you focus on the doom and gloom, everybody is just going to be frozen into being inactive. So I always have to commend Jacques for being really truly like an amazing showman, and really embracing that you have to entertain people while you teach them because if you just teach, they might tune out.
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Darin: Thank you because as you were talking, I was literally recapitulating running to the tube and watching. It was just like a world that your grandfather brought to the world that was so utterly incredible. And any child of any kind has empathy for every animal and understands nature. And you’re right, I never put it together. You’re absolutely right. They were an open book in terms of what was going on. It was literally the first great docu-series reality show that was so inviting because they brought it was like, okay, let’s go to the moon and show you our way, our trip, our crew, and that’s how profound it was. And probably we know more about the frickin moon than we do the ocean. You would know more about that than me.
Ashlan: Hundred percent. One hundred percent, we do.
Philippe: I was just actually writing an article about this, Darin. So NASA’s budget for space exploration, manned space exploration, as they call it, is about $20 billion. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is like our NASA for the ocean and the atmosphere here on Earth, the budget for ocean exploration, NOAA’s budget is around 500 million. It’s so cool. We’ve got a little helicopter that can fly on Mars, I’m sorry, but who gives a crap? We’re spending billions and billions of dollars to go fart around on the red planet and send you know– I’m not against science but at a certain point, we are watching ecosystems collapse on this planet. We know very little still about our entire ocean system’s work. The education is still, in my opinion, paltry in with respect to natural systems. And we’re spending all this money. I mean, it’s like Mary Antoinette being, let them eat cake. What are people going to eat? What are people going to drink? How are we dealing with mass migrations of folks from issues like climate change? Oh, it’s so wonderful, there is a microbe on Mars. Isn’t that fantastic? But people can’t eat that, people can’t drink that, people can’t breathe that. And it’s really outrageous, in my opinion. And should outrage everybody when we think about you know, we have limited resources on this planet, limited financial resources, and we’re spending way too much money looking up, and not nearly enough looking down and protecting what we have here. And people are like, well, shouldn’t we be able to do both? And I’m like, that’d be great. So can we have $10 billion for ocean exploration and you take 10 billion for space exploration, I’ll take that deal any day. But half a billion for oceans and 20 for space seems a little outrageous to me.
Darin: It’s so true. And it’s like, as you’re saying that I can’t help but to think that that’s a systemic human problem. It’s like recycling. We want to put it in the nice blue bin and just take it away and take it out of my house, and I feel good about myself when the recycling program is largely just a disaster. The delusion is that there’s recycling going on very little. So it’s the systemic thing that we don’t want to actually turn in and acknowledge. We don’t want to do that with ourselves to be better humans when pain and suffering happen like, okay what is my contribution? What can I do to be better? What can I do to learn? What can I do to explore myself so that I can be a better human? And you do have to do it, and listen, humbly, our show, Down to Earth, I wanted to go infinitely deeper in every frickin subject and hammer the shit. I had a lineup of doctors and colleagues and all that stuff. I almost quit the show because I was like, it’s gonna be watered down and I got all these people. And I ended up compromising, not out of integrity, but out of the intensity of the information. I’m glad I did because we came to a clear understanding between sharing that information to be inviting and you said it exactly. Entertainment, education, and hope is absolutely essential. 99% of the information out there in this area fails miserably because it’s just talking to the same– That’s why I laugh and I love the fact that you have an exploration of finding treasures in the Caribbean. It’s like, who doesn’t want to watch that? But you’re also weaving in the entertainment and the education, and that’s what we’ve been able to do on our side. But if it would have been up to me and my ego, it wouldn’t have been that way. So I had to learn and kind of be aware that there’s another way to tell that story. And I think it’s so important now than ever because the last thing we all need to do is be righteous about the challenges. We need be invitational through education and entertainment and inspirational, and that’s exactly what your grandfather did.
Philippe: You’re so right on the money, it’s like you and I went through the same existential crisis I think in storytelling because you’re and coming from a more of an earnest background to a certain degree. In my work is when I met Ashlan, and we started working together and she really started to challenge that earnestness, challenged my willingness to take risks and be more fun. And when we had the opportunity–
Ashlan: I mean, he’s super fun, but in your career, you were very serious.
Philippe: So I’ve been able to– Yeah, it’s true. Having her, it was really her influence and her background in pop culture and journalism, etc. that challenged me and why we did a show like Caribbean Pirate Treasure, which I was like, originally, Caribbean Pirate Treasure, I don’t know if that’s quite on brand. And Ashley was like, no, we have an opportunity to reach a whole new audience that wouldn’t necessarily seek out–
Ashlan: Serious ocean stuff.
Philippe: Serious documentary. And we’ll find ways to sneak in climate change. And as you said, Darin, we did, and ocean pollution, plastics and also other stuff so [00:26:06] Ashlan with that. And the new book, we just wrote, Oceans for Dummies, Ashlan wrote 90% of it with her sense of humor and accessible writing. But again, people like Ocean for Dummies like, is that on brand? And we were like, well, actually, yeah because it’s making this accessible to people that aren’t experts in the ocean. I was like, you’re absolutely right. So yeah, being willing to be comfortable about how can we have fun and be more accessible is so important.
Ashlan: Well, when I think of me in the environmental space and also in the ocean space, for lack of a better term, we really need to cast a wider net because now there is definitely still a need and a want for serious documentaries about these serious issues that our world and our ocean is facing and that humanity is facing. But let’s say you’re someone that maybe doesn’t already know about or maybe even agree with some of the things that’s happening on the nature side or happening in the ocean. You wouldn’t sit down and just randomly pop on a very serious, depressing documentary on Netflix about the ocean. Like you’re just not going to sit down on a Friday night and do that. But you would possibly sit down and watch something like My Octopus Teacher and learn how freaking amazing octopus or octopuses or octupi, by the way, both are right, to figure out just how freaking cool they are. And if they live for longer than a year, they would figure out a way to kill us all, or at least make them better place.
Philippe: They’re aliens sent to take over the planet. They’re amazing.
Ashlan: While there still is a place to be earnest and we need those documentaries and we need those things that are going to uncover corruption in the world, we also need to just be more open to talking to more people about something as simple as how the ocean works, or how the ocean can help us combat climate change, how fishing less will actually provide more fish for people? Like I said, we cast a bigger net, and that’s why we wrote Oceans for Dummies just because when I met Philippe, and, look, I took AP biology in high school, but I don’t think we learned much about the ocean. So when I was dating Philippe and my journalist hat on and I’m like, I gotta learn about this stuff because this guy, that’s what he wants to talk about over dinner. So I have to really up my game on this, and there really wasn’t anything out there besides like children’s books and serious marine biology textbooks. So anyways, increasing ocean literacy is one of our number one goals because there’s a famous quote from Philippe’s grandfather, Jacques, but of course, I’m gonna butcher but more or less, people care about what they know. And we have to get the education out there first, then people will hopefully fall in love with it, then people will hopefully want to care for it.
Philippe: But that’s what Down to Earth is all about, right?
Ashlan: Yeah, exactly.
Philippe: It’s such a great show and this idea of a fun way of exploring the world. It’s an amazing place. It doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom.
Darin: And there are some incredible people in corners of the globe who’ve got the trajectory correct, they’re dedicated, and they’re doing some incredible things. It’s not a knock. People only know what they know, and it is so important. Listen, I’ve seen clear-cut things from the Cerrado in Brazil and the Amazon and it’s so horrific to see because it’s like in our bones and in ourselves, we know death and we know life and we know instinct and we know common sense and that’s what I like– I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t say this often, but I don’t like even to use the word climate change because it turns into this religious term. I just like, common sense. This is being destroyed by these things, this isn’t, and this is thriving, and this is life. Um, hello?
Philippe: Why wouldn’t we want to embrace the life?
Ashlan: Embrace life.
Philippe: And recognize fundamentally that it’s a really as has always been throughout history, it’s actually a really small percentage of the population that benefits from the destructive piece. We all are thrown the scraps. But you look at the concentration of wealth in many of these countries, and it’s a handful of people that really benefit from the destruction of forests that benefit.
Ashlan: Or large industrial fishing vessels. I mean, there are only a few people, the very tip-top, that are making money off of that, and the rest of the people, a huge population of those people are actually slaves.
Philippe: Exactly and I think that it’s ultimately, when you look at the systems that build life benefit many, and the systems that destroy life benefit the few, but we live in a system, the inertia of it continues. And that’s what we have to tear down and change. I mean, we talked about capitalism earlier. I mean, true capitalism is not a system where very few benefit and control the cost of goods. It’s a system where we all benefit and it builds opportunity for all, which is what America is supposed to be founded on, but there’s great opportunity. I mean, that’s the end of the day, too. I don’t want to get down the track, which we do sometimes with the doom and gloom because there’s so much opportunity. And there are so many good things. And as you pointed out, we know the tools. There are great people doing amazing things around the world to restore these ecosystems, to be hopeful, and to renew them. And if we give nature a chance, it has an extraordinary ability to renew itself. And so that’s the good news. And whenever we walk into a classroom anywhere in the world, that’s what gives both Ashlan and myself hope is this idea, and we work with young people as well, the determination and the optimism, and the focus that they have to make the world a better place. That’s really what keeps me going.
Ashlan: Well, still my favorite shitballs moment underwater was we went out to the Marshall Islands, which is where the United States did all of our nuclear testing during the Cold War. And around Bikini Atoll, we detonated 23 nuclear bombs. The largest one was a hydrogen bomb called Castle Bravo. When that thing went off, it burned so hot and so bright and so fast, that actually turned the sand around the Atoll into glass. Everything was destroyed for miles. And we went out there because we had heard that there were huge schools of gray reef sharks. And they’re not migratory. So everybody was wondering how did they get there, if they were destroyed, how’d they come back? So I just remember, we didn’t know what to expect. We went down on our first dive.
Philippe: Well, and I would just add that not only that, but if there are sharks there, it means that the entire ecosystem has to have come back, right? Because we have to be able to fish and all the reefs to support them. And so if that was all destroyed in the nuclear bomb, in general, we’re just like how’s this possible?
Ashlan: So we went there almost 60 years to the date later, 60 years, again, of a short lifetime. And on that first dive when I went down, I always knew kind of in my mind that nature could renew itself. Scientifically, I knew that that was a possibility like it could. But we went down there, I swear to you, I thought my mask was leaking because it filled up so quickly with salt water because I was crying at the beauty that was around me because we have actually gone diving in the crater that was still leftover from the actual bomb itself. And there was nothing there. I mean, nothing. There was a sea cucumber.
Philippe: Just sand and some sea cucumber.
Ashlan: And so I was kind of expecting that and to go in and we’re surrounded by 70 sharks groupers that were the size of our Siberian Husky that’s passed out over here. There were giant clams that were probably three or four feet across. I mean, the coral was healthy and beautiful and thriving. And it was at that moment that I knew that with my own eyes and my brain was like, okay, click-click, nature can renew. We just need to give it a break because the Marshall Islands, especially Bikini Atoll, it’s still radioactive. The land is. There’s still cesium in the land. We went on land for maybe like 45 minutes, but the water is clear. And so to be able to know that, when given a break, it only took nature 60 years to come back from literally the worst hell fire and brimstone that we can throw at nature, which is a nuclear bomb, 60 years later, it was flourishing. When we have those nights where you are just you read a new science journal or you see a new report coming out about rumors, anything, you get really depressed. I have to always remember that, we always go back to that. And we have seen the tools that Philippe was talking about. In the ocean, really one of the best things we can do are marine protected areas. We just give these places biological hotspots and break, they’ll come back. And honestly, that is why we’re having a second child is because we know that there is hope for the future. Because if there was no hope, we probably wouldn’t have even had kids.
Darin: Many of you who follow me know I’ve spent most of my life searching for the healthiest foods on the planet from the Amazon jungle to the Andes of Peru, to the Himalayas and Bhutan, to the deserts of Africa, and everything in between discovering hundreds of plants and herbs and superfoods like this is my passion. Things like sacha inch, an Incan treasure, wild [unintelligible 00:31:41] mushrooms, things like Maya nuts, another Aztec superfood, wild cocoa moringa, many adaptogenic herbs and on and on and on. If you look hard enough, there are a few unknown extraordinary foods around the world that people still don’t know about. And a few years ago, I came across my favorite superfood discovery of all time, barukas nuts. Why is that my favorite? Well, when I first tasted them, my eyes lit up. I was blown away. They’re so delicious with notes of popcorn and cocoa and chocolate with peanut butter, and with this amazing crunch, so the taste alone just absolutely blew me away. But after sending them to the lab, which I do, and getting all the tests, I realized they’re the healthiest nuts on the planet. No other nut even compares. They have an unusually high amount of fiber, which is critical for healthy digestion. We’re all getting way too low of fiber in our diet and it’s good for the healthy bacteria and microbiome. And they’re off the charts in super high antioxidants, and have few calories than any other nut. It’s jam-packed with micronutrients. And what they don’t have is just as important as what they do have because they’re found in the forest in the savanna what’s called the Cerrado biome of Brazil, not grown on a plantation or a farm. They’re untouched by industrial pesticides, larvicides, fertilizers. They’re truly a wild food. But they’re not just good for you, they’re really good for the planet. Most other nuts require millions of gallons of irrigated water, not to mention, using bees and shipping them across the United States and just horrible sustainable practices just to grow certain nuts annually, but Baruka trees require no artificial irrigation. At one time, the Cerrado’s forest were made up of millions of these trees. These trees are incredible. They’re nitrogen fixers. They give back to the other plants in the forest. Their grandfather of sacred trees, but most of them were chopped down to make way for cattle, soy, and corn production. When you’re down in Brazil, it can be absolutely shocking. And actually, I’ve cried several times with miles and miles of deforested land filled with soy farms. This beautiful Savanna filled with soy farms and cattle grazing. Our mission is to reverse that. And the long term goal is to plant 20 million new baruzeiro trees throughout the Cerrado. And if that wasn’t enough, we are also providing highly beneficial and fair jobs for thousands of indigenous people so they can stay on their land and they can thrive with this consistent income every year forging and working with Barukas. Barukas are truly good for you, good for the planet, and good for the world community. It’s a win all the way around. I really think you’ll love them, so I’m giving all of my listeners 15% off by going to barukas.com/darin. That’s B-A-R-U-K-A-S dot com backslash Darin, D-A-R-I-N and using the code “Darin” at the checkout. I know you will enjoy.
Darin: Well, that’s such a beautiful freakin story because the things that ring true to me is its systems. So systems either allow things to thrive or they destroy? It’s very clear, right? You know, Seaspiracy revealed so much crazy shit that’s going on. Thank you for that. And it’s just that system and you’re right, that system just keeps playing. And until we rise up as the community, as the consumers, as the customers, as the voters because listen, whether you agree with whatever the politics situations are going, I believe that the dollar that we carry is probably infinitely greater than any voting cast of any vote that can ever be putting on election. So we can shape things by what we do, and what we put our attention on. And that’s a very, very powerful thing that I want to stoke the fire of that young group and young youth more than ever, but yeah, man, it’s just resiliency of nature. It’s just phenomenal.
Philippe: And tapping into that. I think that’s the key, and remembering that things like the fact, as Ashlan said, we’re always trying to help people remember, climate change is an ocean problem. Our ocean is the regulator of our climate. But half the biodiversity on this earth we’ve lost in the last 40 years, almost 70% of wildlife in nature we’ve lost in 40 years. These are very real things, but when we come together and enact solutions and embrace innovation and embrace opportunity, and recognize work hand in hand with with nature and allow it to recover, great and amazing things can happen and do happen. It’s not clickbait and doom scrolling stuff because as you said earlier, the hopeful and positive stuff isn’t– fear as a short-term motivator, right? Fear is a very good short-term motivator from a behavioral perspective that will get you to scroll and click on stuff and, oh, we’re all at war with each other, we hate each other, the world’s falling apart, blah, blah, blah. But it’s the hope and opportunity that inspires long-term action and inspires people in the long run. And I think we need it as much of that as possible right now. So I guess our message is recognize that the ocean needs to be the center of the conversation around climate change and center of a conversation about conservation.
Ashlan: The center of the conversation about our planet.
Philippe: About our planet, exactly. And that there are good things happening and good people making good things happen as you profile so effectively in the show and inspirationally. And that’s the message. There are good things. We need to come together and protect the planet because then we’re protecting ourselves. Listen, the oceans going to survive. There’s gonna be nature left if we if we destroy ourselves. It’s really about human survival.
Darin: I want to dig into that. We need to talk about the children’s programs that you’re doing. What would you say, I mean, it’s so cliche but we’re talking about it, what would you say is a thing as a way that children from 9 to 29, like there are some emerging opportunity here. I just met a third-star general, and he just told me, he goes, I think my daughter wants to talk to you. I said, really? And I think she needs to talk to you more than to talk to me because she is now getting her Ph.D. in environmentalism directly about the ocean. And it’s like just to know that that is a thing, that’s huge. That is a system that’s largely, I’ll be so bold, not teaching us that much. My major taught me a little bit, physiology, nutrition. It got me enough to get a little curious, but really, my education was life. And the fact that that young person is now on a Ph.D. directly related to the ocean, let’s celebrate that shit, come on.
Philippe: There’s so much opportunity. As Ashlan mentioned earlier, if that’s kind of what you were talking about, when we think about young people, I think that kids 9 to 29, EarthEcho is an organization where we’re building a global youth movement to restore and protect the earth or planet and the idea that environmental movement as a whole has neglected education [00:42:36] and youth for decades far too long, and recognizing that the best way that we grow the constituency of people that care about these issues, that we build a foundation in society for a conservation ethic is by focusing on young people on education. It’s hard to change adult behavior, but focusing on young people is the best way to do that and build the cultural economic, and political will in the society to build a new world. So that’s been our focus from the beginning. My grandfather said before we can talk about conservation, we have to talk about education, and that’s what we do to that very point because those are the generations that make change in society ever. And it’s everything from school programs all the way up to looking at social entrepreneurship. A great example is the blue economy where we look at, okay, how can we leverage this theme of restoration. There’s a lot of work and effort being invested in sustainable aquaculture for say for like kelp forest and seaweed as a carbon sink and natural habitat restoration, can they become de facto and re-preserved, but also income for some amazing source of nutrition and feed for people. They can become forests and farms in the ocean that are restorative. And restorative farming in the ocean, it’s a tremendous economic opportunity for communities around the world. And so we’re doing increasing a lot of work in that space and recognizing that that’s just one example of opportunities. People are using the algae-based materials to fit new plastics that are truly biodegradable in the ocean. There are so much innovation and opportunity out there that focuses on how we restore and renew, creating energy from the ocean that is again renewable and restorative. And so that’s really when we think about the higher end of that 9 to 29-year old, what we always talk about is there are tremendous opportunities out there. It’s not just about cleaning beaches or doing recycling campaigns. It’s about recognizing all the traces of consequences in the things that buy and the things that we do and the businesses that we start. It’s the old model of like, I’m gonna create a business, I’m gonna make a $100 billion destroying the planet, then I’m gonna maybe like I don’t know, start a foundation and try and donate some money to fix the mess I made.
Ashlan: That doesn’t work.
Philippe: That doesn’t work. That didn’t work so well in the last 150 years. Instead, it’s like how do I start a business that is both making money and providing jobs and opportunity and restoring the environment at the same time, imagine that.
Ashlan: And also, I feel like when growing up, we were always told because I know it feels like it goes the same way, we were always told like, oh, you’re the leaders of tomorrow. At some point in your life, you’ll be able to lead. And I was wondering, well, when is that magical time gonna happen? And what we like to tell young people is that’s so not right, you are the leaders of today. You at 6 years old, this little girl we met, she went out and there was a water balloon in her hometown which was estuary, a fishing town, and their estuary, they would do a water balloon fight every year. And she would go paddle boarding and she thought it wasn’t right. So she went around–
Philippe: Because of all these balloons, rubber balloons, choking the entire estuary. The irony being as a fishing community, what is the nursery for all the fish they catch? The estuary. So it’s just not connecting dots.
Ashlan: So this little 6-year-old went out and helped everyone in the community and the city council connect the dots, she got the water balloon fight cancelled and then she went on at 8 years old, she was probably 9 or 10 now, she went out and she got over 50% of the businesses to become a single-use plastic-free. At 8 years old, she’s done all this. So you don’t have to wait until you’re 18 and you can vote. You can do it today. And also, no matter what you study, every single young person is a story teller. I mean, you have influence over your siblings, your parents, your friends, your teachers, your classmates. I mean, the businesses that you frequent, even a little kid, so go out there and talk about what your passionate about because really, I would say for most adults, if another adult tells me to do something, they’re usually like pfft. But if a little kid comes up and talks to them about not using a straw or the kind of a light things, don’t use a straw or plastic bag. Or if they really start talking about policy and fishing policies, those adults will listen.
Philippe: What we eat, who we vote for, like kids have huge influence. 13-year-olds drafting legislation around renewable energy in their communities. I mean, amazing stuff that’s really inspiring.
Darin: And that’s the thing that’s so cool is that everyone can relate almost to like the spirit of your grandfather, the discoverer, the innovator. So if we just turned everything into just like the example that you gave, the uses of algae, it’s like the bamboo of the ocean, it just grows and grows and there’s renewable opporunity all over. Hell, I know a guy who could create fuel and put in your car without any chemicals. There are all kinds of things. There’s asparagus that you can grow in Tazmania, feed 0.2% of it, give it to cows and the methane goes away by 99%. Think about how little we know about the ocean, about the environment, and then just apply the discovery, the innovation, the fun, the opportunity, the purpose, and we have infinite jobs, infinite entrepreneurialship, infinite inspiration because that proliferates to other people. It’s like we have the solutions, we just have to ignite these kids, and listen, ourselves too to go, look at these systems differently. It’s just I’m stoked. I get excited about it.
Ashlan: It’s exciting.
Philippe: That’s always the message. It’s like a tremendous opportunity when we get pass the doom and gloom. And listen, there’s a lot of shit out there. We’re in trouble [00:49:08] but just recognize that we’re not helpless. We have agency, we have opportunity that we can do something about.
Darin: So how can anyone, kids included, get involved with the Earth Echo program.
Philippe: Well, earthecho.org is the best place to go for all our programs and join our youth action networks and for young people. Our target audience is abou 13 to 23. That’s a terrific resource and tool.
Ashlan: Well, you don’t have to be a kid too because of the water challenge ambassadors all over the world. It’s getting people out to their local water shed and testing their local water source because sometimes when you ask people where does their water come from, they say “my tap.” And you say, no, where does it come from? So it’s really just that one program is getting people out to connect the dots, their local water shed and really figure out where to touch it, to feel it, to test it. And if it is unhealthy, how you can work to get it better for you and your community. So it’s just when you get people, kids, and adult kids like us, when you get them out into nature and really get them to touch it and to be able to connect with it, it’s all about connection. And that’s really what we try to do is we try to remind people that we’re always connected to our natural world. And even if you live in the middle of the desert, you are always connected to our ocean, through the air that you breathe, the rain that’s falling on your head, or the water that’s feeding your crops. So at the end of the day, it’s just go out and get connected.
Darin: Amen to that, mic drop, for sure. I love that. And also, your book again, where can people find that?
Ashlan: Oceans for Dummies, check any local bookstore or Amazon also carries it. And I think it’s now available on almost every–
Philippe: It’s like 2 or 3 different languages.
Ashlan: Yes, I just got a text from somebody who saw it in Australia in their local bookstore. So it’s all over the planet, Oceans for Dummies.
Darin: They converted it to Australian, amazing. That’s good.
Philippe: Exactly. So we got in the Auzzie, we got it in English, we got it in American, we got it in Irelandish, Scottish, but also I think German, French, Spanish, maybe Japanese, and a couple of different language. I forgot exactly which ones. But it’s a great foundation to anybody who’s curious about the ocean and it’s fun and some easy read. It’s very thourough and it’s a great resource. I still pick it up because we wrote it and I’m like, what was that thing about the marine, the dolphine, I don’t remember, and I pick it and look at it, and oh, yeah, I got it. So it’s a lot of fun. Ocean for Dummies, it’s a great book, just a few months ago. That was Ashlan, again, her genius and putting together 21 and 24 chapters. I did 3. I curated the photos.
Ashlan: You did a great job, honey.
Philippe: But Ashlan did the heavy lifting and that was an amzing quarantine project.
Darin: Hey, we got to know where our skills are.
Philippe: That’s just right.
Darin: It’s such a pleasure to talk with you guys, tip of the iceberg, I can imagine.
Philippe: Darin, it was our pleasure. Thank you, man. Thanks for having us.
Darin: Thank you.
Darin: That was a fantastic episode. What was the one thing that you got out of today’s conversation? If today’s episode struck a chord with you, and you want to dive a little deeper on a variety of topics, check out my live deep dives on darinolien.com/deepdive. More episodes are available on darinolien.com as well. Keep diving my friends, keep diving.
Darin: This episode is produced by my team at Must Amplify, an audio marketing company that specializes in giving a voice to a brand and making sure the right people hear it. If you would like or are thinking about doing a podcast or even would like a strategy session to add your voice to your brand in a powerful way, go to www.mustamplify.com/darin. That’s www.mustamplify.com/darin.