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Q&A with Jean-Michel Cousteau: "The Future of Water - The Challenges and Solutions"

Founder of the Ocean Futures Society and Advisory Board Member of Ecosphere Technologies, Inc. (ESPH) Shares a Legacy of Insight

NEW YORK, Aug. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Investorideas.com, a global news source covering leading sectors including water and environment, issues an exclusive Q&A interview with Mr. Jean-Michel Cousteau, a leading environmentalist and film producer, as well as Advisory Board member of Ecosphere Technologies, Inc (OTCQB: ESPH). Jean-Michel's name carries a legacy of love of the oceans and a passion to conserve and protect them. He is the founder of the Ocean Futures Society, a non-profit marine conservation organization.

Jean-Michel Cousteau discusses the current global state of our oceans and water sources and what we can all do to help protect them. He also shares insight on how technology can play a key role.

Q: Investorideas.com

Jean-Michel, as an explorer and environmentalist, what are you seeing as the greatest challenges for marine conservation and the health of our oceans?

A: Mr. Jean-Michel Cousteau

I think the general public doesn't completely understand that we are totally connected to the water system whether you live near the ocean or live far away from the ocean - there is one water system.  And symbolically anytime you drink a glass of water you're drinking the ocean. So the quality of the water system is likely linked to the quality of our lives. There are 7 billion people on the planet and we add another 100 million people every year, increasing the pressure on the environment. And we need to come up with solutions to be able to solve the problems that we have created, not purposefully but by our mistakes or lack of understanding.

There are millions of species that disappear. We, the human species, are the only species that I know of that have the opportunity to either disappear or not disappear, because of the tools that we have, our hands and our brain. And, I am a very, very strong believer that we are going to do the right thing. We are going to do the right thing in order to make sure that, as a species, we will continue to be around for a very long time. 

Q: Investorideas.com

What are the biggest contributing factors impacting the current state of the oceans?  

A: Mr. Jean-Michel Cousteau

Well, the biggest contribution is mismanagement of our resources; the lack of understanding on how much we affect the quality of water, and the quality of the ocean in particular, by allowing untreated sewage. And it's not just what you see because our primary sense is vision, but it's what you don't see; chemicals and heavy metals which are affecting the entire coastlines of the planet. We also have an issue with fishing because we're taking more than nature can produce. So just like what we did on land when we were taking more than nature was producing, we became farmers. We need to do what we've done on land. We need to farm herbivores, not carnivores. Farming carnivores takes too much from nature to make the food and that becomes very expensive. I am encouraging fishermen to become farmers, and if not them, then their children.

In addition, because of climate change and our emission of CO2, we have a huge issue which is relatively new in the minds of the scientific community and ourselves, and that is acidification.  Acidification has major impact. We are finding significant impacts on different creatures, whether it's coral reefs or plants or shells, whether it's sea shells or shellfish. Crabs, lobsters, shrimps may have their shells softened and ultimately they will not be able to replace them. So we have major issues and that is directly linked to our emission of CO2, which affects the ocean.

Q: Investorideas.com

Where are you seeing any positives? And in that context, what role do you see technology playing? Are we making any dents in these overwhelming problems?

A: Mr. Jean-Michel Cousteau

Well, education for me is number one. Diplomacy is number two. We need to go and sit down with decision makers whether they are in industry or government. Let's not forget that people in industries have to show a profit at the end of the year, otherwise they lose their job. But they also have families that they care about. And government, if they haven't done what the public is expecting, or what they promised to do, will not be re-elected in November. So we need to sit down with these people, never pointing a finger, and literally have a dialogue, whereby they understand that we need to treat nature like you treat a business. We can only live off of the interest that is produced by nature without depleting the capital.

Today we are taking more than what nature can produce and we are heading towards bankruptcy. We don't want to go there. We didn't know that before, but now we do. And there are people coming up with some amazing solutions and I have to say that Ecosphere Technologies, Inc. for many years has been focusing on developing solutions to take care of some of the problems that we are facing today. 

Q: Investorideas.com

Can you give us some insight as to your role as an Advisory Board member at Ecosphere Technologies, Inc. and what attracted you to the company and its technologies originally?

A: Mr. Jean-Michel Cousteau

Well I have been involved since the Company's very beginning. I remember being in New York City in 2001 pumping the water out of the Hudson River which was loaded with - possibly dead dogs and cats, but more likely a lot of pollution from chemicals or heavy metals. We were pumping that water through an Ecosphere water filtration system. As it came out of the system, I was drinking it. And I'm still alive and pretty healthy. Although this is only one example I think that the technologies that Ecosphere has created need to be expanded worldwide. And we can help a lot of people to make sure that they keep their health at the highest possible level with clean water. 

Q: Investorideas.com

When it comes to treatment technologies and solutions in marine areas that have been subjected to oil spills or other contamination, what you are seeing first–hand in terms of corporate preference and results? Are companies opting for clean, environmentally sensitive technologies or resorting to more traditional chemical solutions? And in that light, based on the technology of choice, how are you seeing that directly impact the marine wildlife and aquatic eco-system?

A: Mr. Jean-Michel Cousteau

Well, all these technologies are impacting the environment. We, as individuals, impact the environment, including the air we release out of our mouth, our nose. So, we have to understand  that we have to face up to a lot of issues. And there is very good news thanks to companies like Ecosphere which are addressing some of these issues. And I believe that, as we identify what the problems are, we find solutions. But, as I said earlier, we have to sit down with the big corporations, big industries, and deal with the economic aspects of it. Help them understand that they can change, for example, from their traditional way of creating energy to being able to find new ways, and economically save a lot of money with new approaches. And ultimately, our health will be less impacted, and on and on and on. So I think we are in a very exciting time in our history. 

And I'm looking at being able to sit down with any industrial leader and I never point a finger. If we reach people's brains and hearts and we try to come up with ideas, we can help them go in a direction which will solve a lot of the problems we've created. And you know, then again, whether it's in government or industries, these people have families and they care. They want to do the right thing, but we need to help. And thanks to science and new technologies, we can make that happen. 

There are ways of capturing the energy from the sun, from the wind, from the wave's action, from the rivers, from the difference of temperature between the deep ocean and the shallow ocean. And all of these are available and renewable, and we can solve a lot of the problems. That's what we are up against today. And I think we are heading in that direction. There are a lot of people who are willing to listen, provided that you don't attack them and force them to be on the defensive. Provided that you have a dialogue, a conversation.

I am happy to say that I have had the privilege of sitting down with different decision makers. Whether it's representatives of governments, whether it's left, right, or center, to convince them to make a difference. And I've also had the privilege of sitting down with leaders of big corporations to help them improve the way they do things and help them understand that they have opportunities to ultimately continue to make money successfully, and take care of the environment, and thus protect the quality of life for their future children. 

In the mid-80s, my father and our colleagues developed a concept called Ecotechnie: the intersection of economics with the environment and technology. We need to realize that if you manage resources with new technology, we can still be economically successful. We can face the environmental issues that we have with technology and still have profitable businesses. The whole idea is to enable these companies to make money and to take care of the environment in a much better way.

Q: Investorideas.com

How can consumers and investors play a more proactive role in terms of day-to-day responsibility and also impacting the governments' roles globally in protecting our water sources? And what countries are leading the way in terms of proactive legislation and change?

A: Mr. Jean-Michel Cousteau

Well, there are a lot of countries that are making progress and education is a critical part of it.  And that's what we do at Oceans Futures Society, our not-for-profit organization which I created when my father passed away to honor his philosophy. My father used to say that people protect what they love and I say all the time, how can you protect what you don't understand. 

Today we understand more and more and more, especially with companies like Ecosphere. Their Ozonix® technology offers oil and gas companies economic and environmental solutions to eliminating liquid chemicals and recycling their produced water. They use a lot of water. They create a lot of produced water. We need to use less water in these processes.  We need to clean it up. And we can. That technology exists today. It's a matter of, one, making sure that decision makers know of the technology and, two, know that they're going to make more money with these solutions. There are solutions and they will stay in business. And that's what it's all about. 

Q: Investorideas.com

Jean-Michel, your family is probably one of the most well-known names attached to marine conservation, passing down a vast knowledge and a deep passion for the subject. If we don't take these matters seriously and take action, what legacy are we leaving to our next generation? 

A: Mr. Jean-Michel Cousteau

I will say that children are the future and they are the ones we need to meet, we need to reach. And I have the privilege of meeting young people all the time and young adults throughout the world in many different parts of the world. They are interested. They are excited. They want to do the right thing. And I see them do the right thing all the time. And they expect us to act responsibly and we cannot let them down. What's interesting is that now some of these kids who have acquired the knowledge or the understanding teach and educate their parents. And it's funny to see that happen. And it's wonderful in many ways. 

Recently, I was on the sidewalk of State Street in Santa Barbara and two things happened to me at different times. There was a little kid who was with his mother in front of us, and, in front of me, and way down there was a gentleman who pulled out his pack of cigarettes and put a cigarette in his mouth. The pack was empty and he threw it on the side. And the kid ran, and said sir, sir, you dropped something.  And the gentleman was so embarrassed that he went and picked up his pack of cigarettes. That's a little thing that everybody can do. 

And, the other example, at a different time, there was a truck driving by and the driver stopped and the gentleman said, Jean- Michel you don't remember me. I said no, I'm sorry. He said well I want you to know that I attended one of your educational program 27 years ago. And, I want you to know that all of the decisions I make today are being impacted by the experience that I had on your program then.  And, you know, we know that all of us, every one of us, can make a difference.

In this great fortunate, privileged nation of the United States, let's not forget that we represent approximately 5% of the world's population. And we consume 25% of the energy of the world.  So we can easily criticize others, but we have to take care of ourselves first. Remember I told you I never point a finger, but if we do, there are three fingers pointing back at ourselves. So, I think we have the chance, the advantage and the privilege of being a leading nation, finding solutions, decreasing our consumption, and at the same time taking care of the environment and keeping our businesses profitable.  And I note that's happening already, but we need to do that in a more massive way. 

About Jean-Michel Cousteau

An explorer, environmentalist, educator and film producer for more than 40 years, Jean-Michel Cousteau is founder and president of the Ocean Futures Society, a non-profit marine conservation organization. The eldest son of undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel travels the globe as the "voice of the ocean," meeting with world leaders and policymakers, educating young people, documenting stories of change and hope, and lending his reputation and support to help energize alliances for positive change. At the 2001 Winter and 2004 Summer Olympic Games, he was chosen to represent the environment, literally carrying the flag for the Earth into the Opening Ceremonies. Mr. Cousteau has been honored as a Director Emeritus for his many years of service to Ecosphere Technologies, Inc. as a Director. He has played a leading role in helping Ecosphere form eco-alliances with corporations to protect the ocean environment from industrial pollution.

For more information, please visit http://www.oceanfutures.org

About Ecosphere Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: ESPH)

Ecosphere Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: ESPH) is a U.S. technology licensing and innovative manufacturing company that develops environmental solutions for global markets. We help industry increase production, reduce costs, and protect the environment through a portfolio of more than 35 patented clean water and clean energy technologies: Technologies like Ozonix® and our Ecos PowerCube®, which are licensable across a wide range of industries and applications throughout the world.

For more information, please visit www.ecospheretech.com

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