June 11 – Happy Birthday, Jacques Cousteau

Posted on June 11, 2014

 Once in a while, someone comes along who manages to get people to care about something that they had been taking for granted.

Jacques Cousteau was one of those people. He talked about, wrote about, made movies and TV shows about the ocean. 

The ocean – huge basins of sloshing, undrinkable water, which totally dominate the Earth – is way too large to be affected by us puny humans, right? 

We don't have to worry about polluting it, because it's way too big to be bothered by anything we could do, right? 

And the creatures in the ocean—they're just a bunch of fish, right?

Cousteau made people care about how trash and other pollution affect the ocean, and how important those effects are. He made us realize how dependent we really are on the ocean, and how magnificent and beautiful the sea and its creatures are.

He did this partly by making the sciences of the ocean—oceanography and marine biology—simple enough for those of us without advanced degrees in science to understand. The simplification and popularization of science—sometimes called “divulgationism”—was criticized by some scientists, back then. But it caught on, and other scientists went on to do the same thing on behalf of their favorite fields of science as well...Carl Sagan and David Attenborough, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku, Bill Nye and Isaac Asimov and Stephen Hawking and many, many more scientists have spread the word about their passion for the incredible universe we share.

Here is a list of the “occupations” of Jacques Cousteau, who was born on this date in 1910 in France:

  • French naval officer
  • explorer
  • conservationist and founder of an environmental protection foundation
  • award-winning filmmaker (more than 120 TV documentaries)
  • innovator and co-developer of the Aqua-Lung (the first scuba, or Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus)
  • scientist
  • photographer
  • author (more than 50 books)
  • researcher
  • member of the French Academy

Check out some videos of Cousteau's work here and here and here.

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the death of philosopher / teacher / writer Roger Bacon

Anniversary of the premiere of the movie E.T.

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